Restaurant & Hospitality Consultants

It’s Conceptual, My Dear

by Candace MacDonald

What’s new and hot is quickly old and boring…or so it seems.  (Check out Food Business News recent Culinary Forecast 2015.) So, how do you keep your restaurant fresh?  How do you know what’s a fad and what’s a viable trend that you should implement? It’s a question we get asked a lot. (Fortunately, we spend a lot of time asking ourselves that very same question.) When is it time for new design? Here are two fundamentals to consider with regard to keeping your concept fresh.

KNOW WHO YOU ARE: A clear concept is essential.  It’s your identity, the genre of food, the setting and the service style that you are offering guests.  It’s also your story, the “why” behind your identity.  It’s what makes your restaurant unique in a sea of competition.  When you know who you are, you are in a better position to gauge if a new ingredient, service style or marketing promotion reflects your identity.  If you are a red sauce Italian restaurant and you want to create a specialty sushi menu – you’ll have some explaining to do!  Understanding who you are can also help you decide if it’s worth the investment to makeover your physical space.  Concepts evolve overtime, just like people do.   You probably aren’t wearing the same clothes you wore in 2002 and your restaurant may need an updated look as well.   Considering your restaurant’s true identity against its physical appearance is an important exercise. 

KNOW YOUR GUEST: This isn’t Field of Dreams, where “if you build it, they will come.” You have to understand the market and your place in it before you can get creative.  This means understanding the choices your guests have in front of them.  It also means knowing what your guests want, need and expect from you.  If your guests love you because you have the best beer program in town, you’ll have to think long and hard before you embrace the latest cocktail trend.  If you are an awesome happy hour spot, you may want to expand your bar as you plan to upgrade your space.

Still thinking about a remodel? Check out these four dramatic makeovers for a little inspiration.

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