Next to a smile, adding a candle to the table might be the easiest and least expensive way to positively impact customer mood.
There is a scientific explanation as to why candlelight improves your state of mind. There is also a spiritual validation.
First let’s explore the science…
The “quality” of candlelight at the dinner table has a significant impact on the ambiance or visual sensory experience. In fact the impact of two distinct light properties, Color & Position, create a romantic atmosphere that is only replicated in nature at sunset and dawn.
Candlelight color is the warmest naturally occurring light source; it is akin to the light color of sunrise and sunset. The golden-amber glow of a live flame has a flattering effect on human skin. When seated at the dinner table, faces will appear slightly flushed and healthier when lit by candlelight.
The position of restaurant table lighting is most often face-level. This is another similarity to the setting sun.
Overhead lighting can result in harsh face shadows and can be very unflattering. A table lamp at the dinner table provides ideal illumination to the patrons’ faces. This light position will soften features, minimize wrinkles and mask blemishes. Your dining partner will appear younger and more attractive.
Cinematographers refer to sunset and sunrise as the “Golden Hour” and the absolute best time for filming. The position and hue of the sunlight is simply more flattering for their subjects. A candle on a table creates this golden hour all night long.
So, let’s circle back to mood improvement. If you are dining at a restaurant with candlelit tables, gazing at your healthier, younger, prettier looking date, there is no doubt your mood will be improved. By changing the light quality, the smart restaurant owner can scientifically manufacture romance.
Second, let us consider the spiritual influence…
There is an innate connection between man and fire. Fire is inviting and soothing. This spiritual bond to fire dates back to the Stone Age and it is a part of our essence.
Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev, an Indian yogi, poet and New York Times bestselling author, wrote this about the spiritual influence of fire…
“…the moment you light a lamp, not the flame itself, but around the flame a certain etheric sphere will naturally happen. Where there is an etheric sphere, communication will be better.
Did you ever sit around a camp fire? Stories told around a camp fire have the maximum impact on people. Receptivity is at its best."
“Fire itself is a source of light, and a source of life in many ways.… The sun is just a big fireball…you cook with (fire)...It is symbolism; (lighting a lamp) is a way of invoking your own inner nature.”
So, according to Vasudev the energy field around a flame, or in our case the candlelit dining table, creates a realm of spiritual relaxation to which humans are drawn. The subconscious comfort and security we feel encourages freer socialization and acceptance.
So, let’s bring the science and the spirit together…
Scientifically, our moods are improved because the light quality of candlelight affects the way we see our dining partners and the way that they see us: i.e. healthier and younger versions of ourselves.
Spiritually, we are comforted by the energy field (ambiance) around candlelight. Our deeply-rooted connection to the aura of fire creates a sense of security, comfort and receptivity.
This is good news for the restauranteur employing table lighting. Guests are happier and they are more likely to enjoy their dinner guests. They are relaxed and more receptive so they are more likely to agree to stay for coffee and dessert. Finally, because their dining experience was made more enjoyable, they will be more likely to tell their friends and return for another meal.