Restaurant Concept: All You Need To Know

Revel Blog | Revel | January 11, 2018 |


Your restaurant concept is the foundation of your brand and the starting point of building an impactful and competitive restaurant. Your concept will be critical in determining not just how customers perceive and experience your restaurant, but how you will run and operate your restaurant.            

Here is everything you need to know when choosing a restaurant concept:

What is a restaurant concept?

Let’s start with the basics. Simply put, your restaurant concept is the type of restaurant you want to open. It’s the first thing that customers will take away when they visit your restaurant. It’s the overarching theme and style of restaurant. For example, a restaurant concept could be a:

  • A fast-casual homemade pasta eaterie
  • A french fine dining experience
  • A cozy cat cafe

restaurant concept

Upon understanding the concept, customers will have a preconceived idea of the type of food served, the type of service to expect, and what the price point will be.

Why is a restaurant concept important?

A clearly defined restaurant concept is beneficial to the customers’ experience by ensuring a cohesive and consistent experience. For restaurateurs, a cohesive concept provides ROI by streamlining operations, building brand equity, and helping attain and retain customers.

With everything in alignment – from service-style and menu items to your design and location – customers walk away with a lasting impression.

What’s a concept-driven restaurant?

The concept-driven restaurant, also known as a concept eatery, is an establishment totally driven by its concept and dedication to creating a restaurant experience.

John McDonald who runs multiple successful New York restaurants, like Lure and Burger & Barrel, asks these questions: “Do you have a concept that fits into the decision making of how people dine? You can’t be too broad or too vague — you have to fit into a clear space.” When a group is making plans to dine, for example, individuals might be craving tacos or a steak. “If you can’t plug yourself into those conversations between friends,” McDonald says, “you aren’t going to do well.”

restaurant concept

(Source: Burger and Barrel)

Different types of restaurant concepts:

The Big 4

Fast Food or Quick Service

Fast food establishments, or as the industry knows it, quick service establishments, are defined as having price points at $4 to $7 per meal, offer limited menus, and are counter-service.

Food empires like McDonalds, Taco Bell, In-n-Out and many others have become household names. And quick service is making a quick buck – the fast food industry in the US is worth nearly 200 billion dollars.

Fast Casual

The “it” concept right now is fast casual. True to its name, fast casual is a hybrid of fast food and casual dining. More specifically, Wikipedia says that a fast casual restaurant does not offer full table service, but promises higher quality food than other fast food restaurants. This usually means counter service, with an upscale ambiance and fresher ingredients.

This concept has been championed by major players like Qdoba, Five Guys, Firehouse Subs, Panera Bread, WingStop, Chipotle, among many others. To quantify its popularity, Franchise Help reported that since 1999 fast casual has grown 500%, exemplifying its disruption in the dormant food industry.

Casual Dining

Casual dining has price points at around $15 per meal, offers a full menu as well as table service. Popular casual dining concepts such as TGI Fridays and Applebee’s are known for moderately-priced food in a casual atmosphere.

Fine Dining

Fine dining restaurants can range in fanciness. But they are defined as full service restaurants, with high-quality foods, and the finest in decor and service. Notably, it is the highest price of all the restaurant concepts.

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