It's Time to Say Goodbye to Flameless Candles

Categories: Complaint Desk

Flameless-candle.jpg
Nice. Real nice.
I'm not a designer. A glimpse inside my own home would reveal that while I may have amassed a collection of relatively nice things, they in no way work well together. It's as if a half dozen furniture catalogues were tossed into a blender and my living room was constructed from the resultant confetti. What's worse is I can't articulate exactly what is wrong or what will make the problem better.

The same is true of my knowledge of restaurant dining rooms. I can tell when a space works, and describe every detail for an article or review, but if you were to show me a bad design and ask me how to make it better I'd hide my eyes behind a menu. There is, however, one element of restaurant design I feel I can speak to with authority, and that is the use of organic lighting.

Candles were meant for restaurants. In groups, they carve romance from dimly lit corners and along bars and in hallways they punctuate darkness with flickering commas of light. The heat a candle provides is miniscule, and yet they provide great warmth, and the more candles that are used the more ambience they create. Candles are sexy and create a special mood. And at the least, one should be set ablaze on every restaurant table.

Restaurateurs agree. That's why they go to great lengths to keep that flickering light illuminating our faces and hopefully our smiles as we eat. Some have even resorted to shortcuts to make sure that glow never goes dim. They're called flameless candles and they're about as satisfying as sexless marriages, electric cars and low-sodium cooking.

Try to imagine the very first restaurant owner who filled a dining room with bleak electrics and thought, "This looks good." If you're having a hard time conjuring the image, it's because it likely never occurred. His thoughts may have included dollars saved per dinner service and time spent by servers replacing burned-down candles, but aesthetics and romance could not have been considered, because the fact is that flameless candles look like shit. They cheapen every table they sit on.

Not only do the candles look bad, they color everything they illuminate like iodine, though only when the room is dark enough to let them color anything because they're so pitiful and dim. Flameless candles are a shadow of the noble lights they were meant to replace. So, it's not hard to argue that every restaurant owner that's removed the flames from their candles is better off removing the candle completely. Get them out, donate them to the local theater club or toss them in the garbage bin.

The digital world is on pace to devour every last shred of or romance and wonder from our lives. Can't we at least cling to our candles? Fire is not alluring unless it can actually burn you, and diners should speak up and say as much. I hear electric coils have come a long way since the apartment stoves of old. How long do you think the kitchen staff would hang out if you took their flames away and replaced them with something that was equally chintzy?


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15 comments
Beernutz
Beernutz

I remember the good old days when you could have a beer between your legs while you drive....

valbaker2001
valbaker2001

Talk to the fire marshal.  Restaurant and bar owners need to buy a special license to have real candles, and then they need to be a certain height with protective sides.

AdamsonScott
AdamsonScott

One can stop reading after the first paragraph, because that's all one needs to know about the author.  The rest is just bloviation.

Sotiredofitall
Sotiredofitall topcommenter

Remove both fake and real candles - more room for food 

Greg820
Greg820

I don't like candles that spit and sputter and go out in a breeze leaving an acrid smell in the air.  But maybe I'm not just romantic enough.

Sharon_Moreanus
Sharon_Moreanus topcommenter

Kind of makes hard to find your dishtowel.

evilm1
evilm1

I could be wrong but I think the fire marshal might be behind the candles in bars and restaurants. They don't seem to like candles or power strips/extension cords. :/

CitizenKane
CitizenKane

Interesting topic - Restaurant Design..


I don't know why Dallas restaurant/bar design is so disappointing (IMO), especially the newly opened concepts located in the older buildings.  Dallas has some great older neighborhoods with a nice collection of old buildings that could be wonderful spaces....neighborhoods like Lakewood, Greenville, East Dallas, Bishop Arts, Fitzhugh/Henderson....for the most part these restaurants disappoint on the aesthetic scale.


Dallas should take notes from cities like NYC/Chicago that have great restaurant spaces within old neighborhoods and old buildings.

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

Plus, how are you gonna' suavely light that post dinner Gauloises that makes you seem so sophisticated?

katy.lee
katy.lee

@evilm1 That is what I was going to say. I don't think it is so much laziness on the part of the restaurateurs, but rather a fear of liability. I'm an event planner and I LOATHE fake candles, but a lot of hotels and other venues simply will not allow us to use anything else.  

G_David
G_David

@CitizenKaneAnd while we're sort of on the topic, why does every new fast-food joint have to look like a Chase bank branch office these days?  McDonald's even tore down the giant birthday cake on Ross for a building that looks like it should have teller windows instead of a drive-thru.  I guess they think actually having a little character might offend someone.

lolotehe
lolotehe

@CitizenKaneThere's one place in BAD, a seafood joint in an old Asian fusion spot, that has yet to add any sound dampening. It's incredibly noisy there--the kind of place where you'd make an unsavory deal because no one could hear you over themselves--and it messes with how the food tastes. I know that sounds weird, but it's true.

scott.reitz
scott.reitz moderator

@CitizenKane I don't think as a culture Dallas values old as much as other cities. Dallas loves new. And there's plenty of space to build new.

CitizenKane
CitizenKane

@scott.reitz @CitizenKane 


Agree.  But the new openings in old buildings (in BA, Greenville, and East Dallas) are horrible adaptations of space...


As much as I love Urbano; that space is aesthetically horrible (as an example). And there are much worse examples... 

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