food and beverage underground

Choosing and Creating your Restaurant Concept

A solid restaurant concept is essential in today’s food and beverage environment. Long gone are the days where you could be a good Chef and just open a place thinking your great cooking abilities will drive the masses through your door. Yes, you still need that great food, but today’s diners want more than just the culinary experience.

Everyone needs to eat, but not everyone needs to go out to eat. People go out to be entertained, to socialize, and to get away from the day-to-day grind. Your future is dependent on just how well you can provide them with this escape.

restaurant concept, restaurant, restaurant design

Start the brainstorming

With that in mind start brainstorming your ideas. Your new concept restaurant needs to tell a story, and just like a classic novel, it must tell it in a seamless flow. One of the best in the business in implementing this is the Lettuce Entertainment Group in Chicago. They have some 30 very successful restaurants that are all unique and all top notch.

Their opening group starts with a concept idea and then they actually story board the restaurant adding in all the aspects they can. The goal is to be able for the guests to be able to see, feel, taste, and smell the restaurant concept even if they had no idea what it was prior to entering the building.

Before you start spending the big bucks required on your new restaurant concept start doing the same. I suggest you start with your idea, or the type of food you are thinking of offering and start building your story. Since it is your story I am not even going to presume to tell you how to tell it here, but I will tell you what you should blend together to create your story.

Telling the story of your restaurant concept idea

The first thing that you need to tell your story with is a name and a logo. If you have one now that’s great, forget it for a while though and go through the process, when done come back and make sure it fits your story. If you don’t have a name and logo yet don’t worry, it will come as you tell the story.

The look and feel of your restaurant should be your first focus. You want to create a feel that is consistent with what you are telling.

For example a small French Bistro could have old wood, and café chairs, where as a sports bar serving hamburgers could be high tech with community tables.

restaurant concept, restaurant, restaurant design

A sure sign of an amateur restaurateur is their disregard for one of the biggest aspects of a restaurant concepts look and feel, color and lighting. With regards to color, you need to keep in mind the Psycology of Colors when planning out you restaurant concept pallet. Different colors gives your restaurant a completely different feel and very well may define not only how well you tell your story, but how much money you make as well. Lighting is also essential to your look and feel. Make sure all of your lighting is put on dimmers so you can adjust to the desired levels. Also make sure you have variations throughout the restaurant highlighting special interest areas for the guests.

Another key aspect to the story is the staff presenting your restaurant concept. This includes the type of people you want to hire, what their uniforms will be, and how they will present themselves. A Hooters uniform certainly doesn’t portray an intimate dinner atmosphere. The personality of the front of house staff is something that is hard to put on a storybook, but put down what you want to portray to the guests.

Plates and glassware should also be considered. High-end crystal stemware or Libby’s one size fits all. Although the story must be told properly for the guest to get the picture there are also some other concerns when you start getting to the small wares area, mainly money. At this part of the process, set aside the cost concerns and tell the story.

Music also plays a large part in your story too. Don’t just get your ideas of the type of music you want in your head, get it down on paper. You want to get every detail you can down.

Now start putting everything together. Do little drawings, detail in writing how all of your items combine together. Be the customer, describe what they will see, feel smell and hear as they walk up to the restaurant concept you have just defied. Follow their experience through imagining every detail of their experience with you.

Our next article will go through the steps of making that perfect experience real. Then we will start putting some numbers in, set up a pro-forma balance sheet, P&L, and break-even analysis. Step by step we will walk you through everything you will need before you decide on jumping into the restaurant business. From there we continue to get you open and running right!

From Restaurant Concept to Restarant Business Plan


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