Tips for effective bar and restaurant LED lighting

Lighting serves an ever-important purpose in the function and ambiance of a space, and this is perhaps truer nowhere than within the restaurant industry. Whether you’re outfitting a Michelin star-caliber dining establish or a fast-casual eatery, the lighting needs to achieve the right look and feel while also meeting the needs of your budget.

Here are some tips for restaurant LED lighting to help you easily and affordably illuminate the setting of any cuisine.

Nova Flex LED Tape Strip Ribbon Light Pro 120-4100K, Westin Bar Counter Far awayDelivering the right aesthetic

Restaurant lighting is generally concerned with four key areas, the first of which is the mood and aesthetic. In fine dining environments especially, the lighting plays a critical role in welcoming patrons and ensuring an experience that falls in line with the restaurant’s intended brand.

Bar areas, coves, and spaces behind mirrors or around artwork must be outfitted with the right kind of lighting and color temperature to help properly set the mood. This typically comes with a higher budget and LED systems of 90-95 CRI or higher. A high IP rating must also be utilized, as the lighting needs to be tough and reliable while also having the ability to be cleaned regularly.

Task areas

All restaurant settings feature tasks areas that must be outfitted with proper lighting. Track lighting above the counter, around wine racks, and in shelves is utilized to draw the eye and provide adequate output for servers and kitchen staff to effectively do their jobs. These lights typically call for a high CRI and high output to best serve their purpose.

Exterior lighting

In all settings – and in fast casual eateries, especially – exterior lighting on storefronts and awnings needs to be both easy to see and needs to create a long-distance visual impact. Customers should be able to see and read your signage from a fair distance before being drawn toward your location.

Outdoor lighting can achieve more output from less product due to the natural contrast provided by the sky. These applications use IP 68 almost exclusively, as it is the toughest and most weatherproof, capable of withstanding solvents and saltwater in coastal settings. These highly rated systems won’t yellow or fade from the sun and are almost always neon or a ribbon plus a channel.

Nova Flex LED Ribbon/Tape Lighting at Radisson Red MinneapolisSpecialty lighting

Many fine dining establishments make use of specialty restaurant lighting to achieve a unique and more creative ambiance for their patrons. Features like in-wall art backdrops, color-changing coves, and dynamic walkways call for custom-designed systems and a layout that will truly stand apart.

Nova Flex’s work on the Radisson Red in Downtown Minneapolis is a perfect example of using specialty lighting to deliver a one-of-a-kind feel within a bar or dining room area, while also achieving energy savings with our efficient LEDs.

Nova Flex Design Series

The Design Series from Nova Flex, while having long been popular and heavily utilized in fine dining settings, is an effective choice for lighting a complete range of restaurants. Fast casual restaurants with repeating orders across multiple locations have often favored our Pro Series, but the Design Series provides several advantages, including:

  • Improved ability to achieve the exact aesthetic and look intended
  • Higher output
  • Greater color clarity
  • Affordability

H2 Series

Our H2 series shines its brightest in exterior lighting applications, where we can essentially wall wash to convey an even and highly visible appearance. These high-output lights throw the light further than their interior counterparts, delivering a higher impact for passersby outside your location.

Nova Flex 120 Series in Warm White (3225K) below the bar and in the cove above the bar.The beauty of custom LED solutions

Nova Flex’s fully custom LED solutions provide streamlined ease of installation for our customers, achieving longer runs and less connections to significantly shave time off the process. Our layout and planning is tailored specifically to your application to equal less work for installers.

We provide details highlighting where every piece goes, how it will be powered, how it will emit light, and more. Our products and capabilities are versatile, allowing us to effectively tackle projects from static lights to color-changing ribbons and beyond. We can do it all.

This versatility is showcased via our projects in spaces like Dave & Buster’s, where a restaurant setting is combined with a separate aspect (like an arcade) without requiring multiple lighting partners to get the job done. 


Nova Flex is a one-stop shop for industry-leading LED solutions. Contact us today to take control of the lighting process within your restaurant setting, all at an affordable price.