Choosing a restaurant concept is one of the most important steps to opening a restaurant.
Your concept is your overall idea. It’s what defines your brand and the unique experience you’ll offer your customers.
There’s a lot to think about when starting a food services business, but a well-developed concept plan will provide you with a complete vision of your establishment, and can help guide you as you make decisions along the way.
Here are 3 things to consider as you develop your restaurant concept:
1 - Choose a restaurant concept that fits your personality.
First and foremost, you should develop a concept you’re passionate about, and one you want to put your valuable time, effort, and money into.
Start by thinking about your reasons for opening a restaurant.
For example, are you great with people? Do you enjoy meeting new people and making connections? Consider choosing a concept that allows you to interact with customers directly on a day-to-day basis. Are you more interested in developing new dishes and focusing on food preparation and presentation? If so, you might be well suited to a more operational concept, like a catering service, bakery, or deli.
Whatever concept you decide on, you’ll be dedicating a lot of time and energy working on transforming your vision into a real, functioning establishment. Think about what inspires you. It’s also important to consider your unique skills, experiences, interests, cultural background, and preferences when choosing a concept.
2 - Sell the restaurant experience not just food.
Your menu is a very important aspect of your overall concept, but it’s not the only aspect. Your concept reflects your restaurant’s theme and identity. You’re not only serving delicious dishes to customers—you’re also providing them with a unique experience, and every detail is important.
How your food tastes is important, but you also want to consider the other senses in order to provide a complete sensory experience for your patrons.
Things to consider when building a concept include:
- Your restaurant’s name
- Menu design and descriptions of dishes
- Style of service (e.g. fine dining, bistro, family style, buffet, food truck, etc.)
- Decor and overall ambiance
- Background music or vibe
- Floor plan, number of tables
- Restaurant location
- How to market your concept
By nature, restaurants revolve around food, so it’s important to consider how these other elements complement your menu.
You want every detail to serve you larger vision. For example, traditional Italian food works great with family style dining and a relaxed ambiance. If you plan to serve multiple courses and fine wines to patrons, you’ll want to consider fine dining service, fewer tables, and high-end decor to complement your menu.
3 - Build a strong team to complement your skills.
Once you’ve decided on a concept, it’s time to make your vision a reality. Think about what you bring to the table as well as what you don’t.
Understanding your weaknesses, or where you have gaps in your knowledge, experience, and skillset can help you fill these gaps with partners and staff you can work well with.
For example, if you’re a chef with years of experience developing unique recipes and organizing kitchen staff, but you’ve never owned or operated a business before, you may benefit from choosing a business partner with financial and marketing experience. If you’re business savvy and know how to generate buzz, but you’ve never worked in a restaurant, you’ll likely need to hire people who know the ins and outs of running a kitchen and developing a menu.
There’s a lot to think about when opening a restaurant. Taking the necessary time to carefully consider your overall concept and establish a comprehensive vision for your menu, space, and ambiance can help keep you on track as you work on the finer details.
By choosing a concept that fits your personality, provides a complete experience to customers, and allows your delicious food to shine, your vision can become a reality.