What is a Restaurant Concept?
Your restaurant concept is the overall theme or idea that defines your restaurant. It serves as the foundation of your brand and provides guidance as you build a competitive and impactful business.
A restaurant concept covers your type of cuisine, menu, service style, decor, and ambiance.
Why is a Restaurant Concept important?
A clearly defined restaurant concept will serve as your North star when crafting the overall strategy for your business. Your marketing, operations, and financial plans should point towards your concept.
It can also help you create a seamless and consistent experience for your customers. For restaurateurs, a solid concept brings in ROI by strengthening your brand equity, streamlining processes, and attracting and maintaining customers.
Having all elements consistently in place – from location to your service style and items on the menu – customers will leave your restaurant with a positive experience and lasting impression.
Types of Restaurant Concepts
There is a wide variation of restaurant concepts you can choose from. It can be overwhelming and difficult to choose a concept that will work for you.
Before you decide on a concept, it is important to consider the following:
- Your target audience
- Your desired price ranges
- The type of food you prefer to offer
- Formal or casual ambiance
Below are seven types of restaurant concepts you can choose from. To make your restaurant unique, you can do some mix match or blur the lines between the concepts you think would work for you.
1. Fast Food
Fast food establishments are the most known concept for most people. Popular chains like Burger King and McDonald’s have been dominating the quick-service space since the 1950s. Several establishments like In-n-Out Burger, KFC, and Taco Bell have followed suit and became famous in this line of business as well.
Customers flock to fast food restaurants because of their convenience, sped, and relatively cheap prices. Price points range from $4 to $7 per meal. Most of these famous fast-food chains are available for franchising. If you are considering buying a franchise, note that the initial costs of franchising are usually more expensive than opening your own independent restaurant.
2. Fast Casual
Fast Casual is a hybrid of fast food and casual restaurant concepts. They do not offer full-scale service but bank on the promise of higher food quality than fast-food restaurants. In other words, customers in fast-casual restaurants can expect counter service but with a more upscale ambiance and fresher food ingredients.
A popular example of fast-casual chains is open kitchens, where customers see their food being prepared. Famous restaurant brands with this concept are Five Guys, Panera Bread, Chipotle, WingStop, among many others.
This concept has been steadily gaining popularity. In fact, a report from Franchise Help says that fast casual has grown 500% since 1999, highlighting its disruption in the food industry.
3. Casual Dining
Casual dining restaurants offer food and beverage around the $15 a meal price point. Customers enjoy a full menu and table service as well.
Here are some of the typical characteristics of casual dining restaurants:
- The atmosphere is comfortable and laid-back
- Customers are waited by servers or bartenders,
- Food is moderately priced and often includes alcohol
- Televisions are typically available in the dining or bar area
- Customers are usually families and those in the younger demographic
- Usually caters to a sizable repeat customer base.
Popular casual dining restaurants include TGI Fridays and Applebee’s.
4. Fine Dining
Fine dining restaurants have the most expensive price-points among all the restaurant concepts. They are full-service restaurants offering high-quality food and are the most sophisticated in terms of décor and service.
This restaurant concept aims to provide a top-notch dining experience to its customers. From crisp white table cloths to waiters in tuxedos – diners can expect all kinds of fanciness when in fine dining restaurants.
5. Café or Bistro
Cafés do not offer table service. Customers typically order food from the counter and serve themselves. The menu includes coffee, tea, and pastries. This restaurant concept originates from Europe and is strongly associated with France. Diners who prefer an intimate and relaxed atmosphere frequent cafés.
A bistro is similar to a café in terms of serving simple food in a casual setting. However, full meals are offered in bistros on top of the coffee, bread, and pastries.
6. Food Truck
Another food trend that has gained popularity across the country are mobile food truck restaurants. This is one of the easier restaurant concepts to implement given its low cost and low overhead.
Aside from being relatively inexpensive to operate, another advantage food trucks have is its mobility. It can literally go wherever customers are. A fewer number of people is also required to cook, serve customers, and clean-up.
7. Restaurant Buffet
Originating in France, the buffet-dining concept continues to be a popular choice among many diners. A typical buffet lets customers choose from a wide array of dishes and serve themselves.
The Eat-all-you-can type of buffet offers guests the most value for the price they paid. They can literally have as much serving as they can from all the food being served. There are usually several stations – appetizer, the main course, salad bar, dessert, drinks, etc.
Elements of Restaurant Concepts
1. Restaurant name
Naming your restaurant should at least consider giving customers an idea of the type of food you offer. In order to stand out, choose a name that simple, memorable, and authentic.
There are several approaches you can take when choosing a name. Restaurateurs usually take inspiration from their name, location, a family member, or their signature dish.
2. Menu writing
Your menu can be written in a straightforward way such as listing down the ingredients of a dish or describing the way it was cooked. It can also be poetic when you describe the experience, visual image, or abstract theory behind the food you serve.
Your menu writing style can be any or a combination of the two approaches mentioned above. But make sure that they are still guided by the overall theme.
3. Service styles
Customers expect different levels of experience and service styles depending on the type of restaurant concept they are dining in.
In fast-food restaurants, they are accustomed to ordering and paying at the counter, waiting for their food, and the carrying food trays to their chosen table.
Fine dining customers, on the other hand, pay for more than the food. They seek for a whole new experience. That’s why they expect exceptional customer service, top-notch food, and expert waitstaff.
4. The restaurant decor and ambiance
Music, table setting, decor, lighting, and color palette all play crucial roles in creating the overall impact of your restaurant. Though your efforts should be mostly focused on the food, it is also important to allocate time deciding on decors early in your planning process.
Your ambiance can be casual, fun, or romantic depending on your chosen restaurant concept. It helps give customers a consistent look and feel every time they dine in your restaurant.