The Sail Inn
Unofficial website

Sail Inn

Sail Inn was a highly successful bar and grill in Tempe, Arizona, US, which concluded its operations in June 2014 after having served the community for over 20 years. With two different stages (outside and inside), it used to be one of the best places in Arizona where you could enjoy top music acts, along with some amazing food and drinks. The place also used to host several corporate events and private parties too. It enjoyed a long, unusual and colorful history over two decades. Back in 90s, when it was opened for the very first time along the Farmer Avenue, a few blocks west of downtown Tempe, it was known by the name Last Chance Lounge. Many local bands like The Noodles, Black Carl, Japhy’s Descent, Dry River Yacht Club, Future Loves Past, The Sugar Thieves and Banana Gun became a mainstay at the restaurant over the years.

Talking about music acts in restaurants, let’s discuss why music is considered so important for the success of restaurants these days.

Music is an extremely powerful form of artistic element. It has an impact on people’s mood, whether in both positive and negative ways. It can both excite and soothe someone. It’s a sort of element which can either be placed by itself as the whole sole focal point of a premises, or simply function as a background element for creation of a conducive atmosphere. When we talk about the word atmosphere, we generally think of our surroundings. However, in the context of restaurants, atmosphere can be best described as the spatial aesthetics employed for impacting the design of a restaurant and for creating a certain effect on its customers.

The moment you step into a restaurant, sound, smell and sight – 3 out of 5 of your body’s senses get engaged immediately. The touch and taste come much later. Restaurants spend plenty of time, money and thought into making their facilities appealing to the sense of sight of people. This is achieved via good visuals in the form of lighting, signage and decor. People’s sense of smell comes much later when they’re served good aromatic food.

However, what about their ears? Does their hearing or sound sense also get stimulated in a similar manner, just like their senses of smell and sight? A large number of restaurants are now understanding the importance of music for enhancing their customers’ experience and for differentiating themselves from the competition.

Nowadays, people consider eating out as a type of entertainment. Although they may not be visiting a restaurant solely for music purposes, but good music can definitely enhance their enjoyment level while they are in a restaurant. Hence, the kind of soundtracks or bands that are played in a restaurant can have a major impact on its perceived food and service level.

There was a certain Mehrabian and Russel model that attempted to explain the impact of atmosphere on the customer behavior when it came to restaurants. As per this model, the people in the atmosphere can respond to it either in an avoidable or an approachable manner.

An approachable behavior would mean physical movement of a person towards something and associating with others present in that atmosphere via eye contact and/or verbal communication, apart from performing certain other tasks inside that atmosphere.

On the other hand, an avoidable behavior would mean making attempts to get out of that atmosphere and staying indiscernible within it. It would also involve conscious attempts of avoiding communication with anyone else in that atmosphere.

It’s imperative for restaurant owners to comprehend why people react in a particular manner in certain environments. People usually respond to different atmospheres in different ways owing to all sorts of reasons, which in turn makes them avoid or approach that atmosphere.

A major catalyst for bringing about such reactions in people is music. The music played or performed in restaurants can have a very significant impact on whether the people would avoid or approach that place.

A survey was carried out in four different dining places, on a certain fixed number of customers, to find out the impact of music played there, on them. 80% of the surveyed people responded by saying that they enjoyed the background music while they were eating in restaurants. Following were the reasons given by them for enjoying such background music:
- 78% stated that good background music in a restaurant helps them relax.
- 74% stated that good background music in a restaurant is more likely to help them enjoy their meals.
- 71% stated that they felt more romantic whenever there was good background music playing in a restaurant.

Another survey was carried out to understand the reasons why music has such a major impact on either the approach or avoidance of a food establishment. People who loved hearing music in restaurants provided the following responses:
- 67% stated that good background music may make them revisit the restaurant.
- 64% stated that good background music in a restaurant makes them stay there for longer.
- 56% stated that they’re highly likely to recommend a particular restaurant which plays good background music, as opposed to a restaurant that doesn’t.
- 41% stated that they might consider leaving a restaurant if it stopped playing good background music.
- 39% stated that they may not visit a restaurant very frequently if it stopped playing good background music.

Hence, it was concluded that not only does music have a very big impact on the behavior of customers in a food establishment, but the kind of music that is played also becomes crucial in majority of restaurants.

Another study involved tracking customer behavior in restaurants which used decibel levels of music as an independent variable. The music loudness was varied from soft to very loud in eight different experiments. This survey revealed that customers would spend more time in a restaurant if the music’s volume was kept low. The tempo of the music also impacted the money spent by customers on both drinks and food.

The music of a restaurant should actually complement its atmosphere, depending on the kind of target audience that a restaurant caters to. So, your customers are less likely to enjoy heavy metal music over a candlelight dinner if you position yourself as a fine dining restaurant.

Hence, it is pretty evident that music played in restaurants can significantly affect the attitude and mood of customers and the amount of time they spend buying food and drinks in the restaurant. Apart from that, the music being played in the restaurant would have the same effect on the people’s impression of that brand as anything that they can taste, smell, feel and see. Many people term this as the vibe of a particular restaurant. So, music is that one aspect which you can easily use for enhancing the vibe of your restaurant!