How to Pick a Killer Restaurant Concept

light bulb idea | Culinary Business Strategy
photo credit: Jeffrey Wisdom

By Deagon B. Williams

The restaurant concept is the basis of what will differentiate you from your competitors. Ultimately, it is the basis of one’s brand. Most simply put a restaurant concept communicates who and what you are. More importantly, it tells your potential customers what they can expect, which, in my opinion, is the single most valuable piece of communication that you can give your customers.  They want to wrap their minds around your restaurant long before and long after they’ve become customers.

Yes, what is the best restaurant concept is what you really want to know-right?  Sorry, there is no one right answer, but here are a few guiding principles that will help you decide on the best restaurant concept for you.

First, imagine or day dream about what you want to be doing on any given Wednesday 3 years from now.  Do you want to be meticulously preparing every tiny detail for an over-the -op amazing dinner service? Do you want to be preparing to see a crowded bar full of enthusiastic sports fans anxiously watching the big game?  Do you want to be introducing new and unusual flavors to customers who have grown to trust you? Or is it being part of a morning ritual of grateful coffee drinkers? Whatever it is that you really want to be doing on any given Wednesday 3 years from now is the basis for your restaurant concept.

Secondly, look around your area and determine how far people will travel for the best of what you are offering.  If it is one of the world’s finest restaurants, The French Laundry or El Bulli, then people will make a pilgrimage to get to you. However; if it is a morning Cup of Joe, people will travel no more than a mile or two.  Determine your target market and figure out if you have enough of them in traveling range to be successful.

Thirdly, know that concepts change over time. Remember the sports bars of the 80s? Big brass fixtures and dark green carpets, where upon entering you just know that fried calamari and Buffalo chicken wings served with blue cheese dressing were on the menu. At one time these were all the rage, but today they are few and far between.  People still go to the public house to watch sports but the visual of the old school sports bar has now morphed into something different.  The point is to be aware of where your chosen concept has come from, and think about where it is headed.

Like this post? Get more where that came from- join us on Facebook, or sign up for our RSS feed. Plus, we love comments, so leave us your thoughts! Thanks for reading.