The first step in creating a restaurant is to identify exactly what the restaurant’s concept is going to be. First, let’s make sure that we agree on what the word “concept” means. Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary defines concept as “something conceived in the mind: a thought, notion.” The word “theme” can also be appropriate, and is defined as “a specific and distinctive quality, characteristic.”

So, we begin with a thought. We visualize that which we want to create. However, the concept is the whole of many parts that are pulled together with a distinguishing theme. The major theme parts are:

1) Architectural design; this includes the interior furnishings and décor that are characteristic of the theme and the overall design.
2) The menu and the service system; they must fit the overall theme of the concept. If the concept is ethnic, then the menu should follow with an ethnic foundation. Is the service to be fast food, fast casual or fine dining? Obviously, a fast food menu does not work with fine dining service, or vice versa.
3) The pricing structure of the menu; again, this must also fit the restaurant’s menu and service model.

I have often used the comparison of a “three-legged milking stool” to that of a successful restaurant. If one of the legs of the milking stool is weak, then the whole stool is weak. The three legs of a restaurant are: “Food, service, and atmosphere.” If one of those legs is weak then the restaurant will fail. The concept and theme of the restaurant is a significant part of that “three legged stool” perception.

Tom Wilscam

W&W Restaurant Consulting Group 

(866) 530-7042