When making the decision to open a restaurant, lots of decisions need to be considered. The type of restaurant you start will dictate the sort of owner you will be. Are you passionate about food and want to have a hands-on approach? Or are you a people-person who will charm customers as they enter?
Deciding what restaurant concept will work well in your particular location and thrive with your expertise is fundamental for its overall success. Here we take a look at tips for choosing the perfect restaurant concept so you can open your new eatery with confidence.
Restaurant Concept Definition
A restaurant concept is the overall theme that defines the restaurant. This includes the service style, menu design, decoration and type of food. Many restaurant concepts are based on the chefs’ or owners’ personal experiences or interests. Common inspirations include local ingredients, heritage and family traditions and recipes, as well as the chefs’ culinary expertise, travel experience and training.
Your restaurant concept should be the foundation of your business plan. The food and beverage industry is constantly evolving with many restaurants diversifying their menus in an attempt to offer something unique. That’s why your restaurant concept needs to be fully established before you attempt to enter the competitive market.
Research the Competition
Look into the restaurants already working in the local area. For example, if there are already lots of pizza places and your concept doesn’t offer something different, you won’t stand out from the rest. You might struggle to establish and retain a customer base if they are already loyal to another restaurant.
You should learn as much as you can about every restaurant in close proximity. This includes their menus, prices, customer service styles, theme, etc. Learn from the other restaurants’ success. Even if an eatery doesn’t appeal to you personally, if it gets plenty of custom, it must be doing something right.
There is always something you can learn and work into your own business model. To achieve this, you could send ‘secret diners’ for a meal in other restaurants so they can chat to customers and gain some insights. This should be carried out long before launch day.
Think About How Much You’re Prepared to Spend
Consider whether you are going to offer expensive ingredients, like fillet steak and lobster. Even if you qualify for a large loan from the bank, expensive ingredients will mean you have to spend a huge amount each month to be able to serve them. This is all before knowing how busy you will be. A less risky option might be to introduce more luxurious ingredients later on when you can be sure it is feasible.
Some restaurant concepts are pricier than others. If your primary offering is going to be authentic wood-fired pizzas, you need to consider that this type of pizza oven is often thousands of pounds more expensive than many other pizza ovens.
It’s tempting to follow a vision and not think about the consequences but starting small is usually the most sensible option when launching a business in such a competitive sector. Wait until you have a returning customer base and are making a substantial profit before introducing pricier ingredients and expensive equipment.
Find Your Location
Obviously, a site in a busy area with lots of potential customers is a great choice. But you should also consider the type of customers you aim to appeal to. For example, a fast-food outlet or restaurant specialising in vegan options is likely to be more popular in a city centre with lots of young people or on a university campus than in a quiet residential area or shopping centre. Be selective – choose a location where your potential customers will find you.
Create a Menu
Your menu is the most important aspect of your business. You can have beautiful furnishings, friendly staff and enviable promotions, but if your food isn’t up to scratch, you won’t attract many customers. Once you have decided on your concept, make sure your menu reflects it. If you’re planning on opening an American steakhouse, for instance, you’ll need to provide a range of steak and burger options, plus some alternative dishes. On the other hand, if you’ve chosen to launch a fine-dining restaurant, you’ll need to make sure you have developed a list of high-quality dishes with premium ingredients – and have the chefs to cook them!
Also, think about how your menu will look. The colours and font should be reminiscent of your brand identity and the overall ‘look’ of the menu should give diners an idea of what to expect from the food.
Choose Your Service Style
Service Style refers to how you handle orders, food sales and serving. This determines how many employees you will have. Think about whether you want to go for Quick Service (Fast Casual), Midscale or Upscale Fine Dining.
Decide on Your Aesthetic
An important part of your restaurant business is your logo, branding and decoration. Choose a memorable name and logo that customers can easily associate with your business. With that said, make sure its unique enough to stand out from other local businesses.
Your interior design should reflect your target customers. If you are offering a cuisine enjoyed predominately by a certain culture, the decoration could take inspiration from the place. Look at current trends for inspiration and find ways to make your place stand out – whether it’s the pictures on the walls, the furniture or the flowers and candles on the tables.
Once you’ve decided on your concept, stick with it. When you’re trying to establish a customer base, consistency is key to make sure they know what exactly they’re getting. If you want to diversify your offering, keep it small and remain focused on your overall concept, otherwise potential customers might not take you seriously.
Be Mindful of Fads
In all aspects of life trends come and go, and the restaurant industry is no different. So even though it’s a good idea to keep on top of what customers are seeking at that time, try to avoid this being all you offer in case it goes out of fashion.
Becky Martin, Point Franchise ©