Canadian Pizza Magazine

Making Dough with Diane: Six quick reno ideas on a tight budget

Diane Chiasson   


Before new customers visit your pizzeria, they will observe your restaurant’s exterior. Aim to make a great first impression with a clean and inviting storefront. PHOTO: Canadian Pizza

It’s time to think of making changes to your pizzeria’s look and feel to attract more tourists. To most people, a restaurant is like a second home. Each customer expects to find a cozy, friendly environment, and they will be craving something new, such as a makeover, an overhaul or fresh renovations. 

A restaurant is like a second home where each customer expects to find a clean, cozy and friendly environment. Do you think your clients can relax and enjoy great pizza and other treats if your pizzeria hasn’t made any changes for the past 20 years? If your place is starting to look worn, it’s the perfect time of year to get your paintbrushes out and start your restaurant renovation.

Your pizzeria may need a quick restyling or makeover if you encounter these situations: 

• Other pizzeria stores and restaurant operations in your neighbourhood are getting facelifts.


• Your customers regularly comment about your dated look.

• There are consistently lower sales and cheque average.

• You are not receiving media attention.

• Your competitors are taking away your customers.

• You are constantly losing members of your team (chef, manager, server).

• The newest generation are not replacing your senior guests. 

You can bring a brand new look to your customers by renovating your pizza operation in simple, smart and inexpensive ways. There is no need for demolition or spending a big budget. Instead, you will need only to freshen up your space with a new layout, revitalize furniture and use creativity. Your building and interior should reflect the service and quality of your food and drinks. Here are six quick reno ideas for a tight budget. 

1. Have a plan in place
You certainly don’t want to go over your budget, so the first step to getting your pizzeria a fresh look without breaking the bank is to make a comprehensive list of your renovation ideas. Spend some time in every area of your pizzeria. Get a good grasp of simple ways to optimize flow and space. A well-designed pizzeria floor plan can increase your profit margins by enabling your staff members to move between the front and back of the house faster, serve your customers more efficiently and turn tables more quickly. Have a tour of your outside and inside space and get feedback from your team. Write a checklist of what’s working and what isn’t. Do you wish to make your pizzeria an attractive business to sell in the future? Will you be preserving the family business to pass on to the next generation? What are the most important things that you want to tackle first? What is your total budget?

2. Make a great first impression
People feast with their eyes before they feast on your food. Before new customers visit your pizzeria, they will observe your restaurant’s exterior. The first impression can help customers decide to go to your restaurant or your competitor’s pizzeria down the road. Your restaurant’s exterior greets guests as soon as they drive up. If you have a parking lot, make sure it is well organized, attractive, clean and has landscaped walkways. Get rid of any litter, cigarette butts on the ground and clutter to boost your overall appeal and invite customers into a clean, fresh space. The cleaner the area surrounding your pizzeria, the better your chance of customers wanting to come in and stay. 

You can invest in a new colourful sign on a tight budget, painting doors and windows. But, whatever you do, your new exterior should match your brand. Creating a cohesive and unified brand image is essential for any store or restaurant.

3. Update your lighting
Proper lighting is crucial for any restaurant operation. Pizzerias are no exception. When choosing lighting fixtures for your restaurant, there are certain features you want to keep in mind, as lighting is not one-size-fits-all. Lights in areas that customers are exposed to should have different features than those used in the prep and staff areas. In addition, proper restaurant lighting will be essential in creating the ideal sensory experience. A dining experience is all about ambience and lighting plays a very important part in a pizzeria’s sense of atmosphere. 

This can be as easy as changing the light bulbs’ lumens for those on a very tight budget. If you have a bigger budget, you can always update your old fixtures with new ones: new light fixtures will quickly make an area feel more modern. You should always direct LEDs and spotlights on the products you want to sell.

When designing your light fixtures, try to maintain colour consistency throughout the areas that are connected to one another. The areas separated by a door or walls, such as the staff and customer areas, can have drastically different colour temperatures. Always check your staff’s eyesight before finding the right restaurant lighting applications. The last thing you need is a staff member straining to perfect a pizza due to poor light. 

4. Give new life to your furnishings and switch up the layout
If your tables, chairs and benches look worn out, it’s time to get new furniture. Usually, tables are the first items to be updated. Before buying new tables, and if you have wooden tabletops, consider sanding back your tables and giving them a nice coat of paint, varnish or stain. Repainting or changing your tables will make your pizzeria look more colourful and inviting. You can glue some tiles on top of the existing tables. You can also modernize them with textiles such as tablecloths or cushions. Finally, don’t forget to add new wall art, blackboards or prints in good taste. Your investment will simply be in the elbow grease, a fraction of the cost of new fixtures.

If you can, re-upholster old chairs, touch up scratches and apply the same treatment as you did to your tables. 

One of the best things to do is to play around with your floor layout. Take a good look at your entire space, and move a few tables, chairs and merchandising displays to reconfigure a new floor layout. This will instantly create the illusion of a whole new space, and it will not cost you a dime

5. Update the base colour
If you need a quick and inexpensive makeover in record time, an excellent strategy is to change your wall colours. Changing or touching up your painted surfaces is one of the easiest, cheapest and most effective ways to significantly impact your pizzeria. 

Check with your local paint store about types of paint that will hold up to the physical environment of your pizzeria: heat, spills and customer traffic. Choose the perfect colours that psychologically will encourage customers to feel happy, relaxed and hungry. A fresh coat of paint will brighten up the most tired pizzeria inside and out. Painting a certain colour can also affect how big or small the space looks.

6. Freshen up the bathrooms
Don’t forget about restrooms when you plan your pizzeria remodelling job. The bathroom is a very important space used by almost every customer who walks through your doors, especially after COVID and during cold weather. Renovations could be as simple as a fresh coat of paint, new mirrors, counters and water-saving modern fixtures. Keep your bathrooms thoroughly clean and spotless and change out some of your light bulbs. No restaurant renovations are complete without a few new touches to your bathrooms.

Diane Chiasson, FCSI, president of Chiasson Consultants Inc., has been helping foodservice, hospitality and retail operators increase sales for over 35 years by providing innovative and revenue-increasing food service and retail merchandising programs, interior design, branding, menu engineering, marketing and promotional campaigns. Contact her at 416-926-1338, send her an email at, or visit

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