Developing Your Restaurant Concept? Avoid These 7 Common Pitfalls

By Andrew Turnwall


Andrew Turnwall

May 8, 2018

Posted in Restaurant Management, Industry & Culture

Is your restaurant’s concept one-dimensional?

Your restaurant concept shouldn’t just be made up of what you put on your walls. Successful restaurants like State Park and Loco Taqueria & Bar were built with the guest’s entire experience in mind. Every aspect of your restaurant, from the food you serve to how your staff speaks to guests, defines your restaurant’s unified theme. Here are seven common mistakes that can break a concept and lead to a messy guest experience.


1. Not deliver what your concept promises

Your theme shouldn’t be just “steakhouse,” “Italian,” or “dive bar.” It’s an all-encompassing statement about who you are and what you offer. That being said, make sure you’re sticking to that message. Every part of your restaurant, whether it be the ambience or menu items, needs to fit your concept.

2. Distracting or dysfunctional restaurant design

There is such a thing as committing too hard to a theme. Is that giant moose head you picked out for your bar going to hit people moving in and out of areas? As you are picking out decor pieces and creating the layout, keep in mind how it will affect the comfort of both your guests and your team.

3. Underutilize your menus

Your decor may be flashy, but your menus do most of the talking. Think through both what your menu includes and how it looks. What kind of language do you use? How are your menus visually designed?

4. Don’t get full buy-in from your team

No one likes reading from scripts! Take the time to train up your team so that they fully understand and get excited about your concept. This creates a genuine, organic experience for your guests and curbs turnover amongst your team.  

5. Try to force a concept in an area that won’t buy into it

Assumptions about your neighborhood’s desires, style, and demographic may not be as easy to nail down as you think. Make sure you’re researching, surveying, and adjusting to ensure that you have an excited audience for your restaurant concept.

6. Copy or rip off other successful restaurant concept

Everyone knows the saying, “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” That doesn’t mean you should take a concept you like and run the same exact same thing with a different name in a different neighborhood. You need to do more to make it your own, or guests will notice and dismiss its inauthenticity.

7. Force yourself to operate in a concept you don’t believe in

It might be profitable for now, but if you’re not passionate about your concept, the day-to-day operations will eventually wear you down. Your care towards upholding service standards will disintegrate and bring down the concept from the inside out. Make sure that you are just as bought into the concept as you want your staff to be.

Are there any other mistakes that you notice restaurateurs making when developing a new concept? Let us know in the comments.

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