Deciding on your restaurant’s concept


To define your restaurant’s concept, you need to know what you want to serve and who you want to serve it to. These days there are so many different types of restaurants it can be a bit like “information overload” when you’re first coining the idea of opening a restaurant but work through it as this is an important step and if done correctly, will set you up for future success.

To define your concept, we need to look at the different type of restaurants out on the market. By ‘type’ I don’t mean Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Mexican – I mean:

  • Fast Food Restaurants
    Think, Macca’s, KFC, Hungry Jacks, Red Rooster, Dominoes and even the Fish and Chip shop down the road. No need for professional chefs or cooking qualifications although you can expect to hire a lot of younger, inexperienced staff in the larger chains (high school and university students). Chain restaurants will have franchise fees which can be huge depending on the chain and location. If you’re thinking of a Fish and Chip shop or local burger bar (for example), franchise fees won’t apply.
  • Casual Dining
    Think family style restaurants like Taco Bill, Hog’s Breath Café (although they don’t need to be chain/franchise restaurants). Casual dining includes pubs and cafés too. Chefs would usually have some formal cooking qualifications or many years’ experience working in a professional kitchen.
  • Fine Dining
    Upscale restaurant with a higher price point catering to a smaller demographic than Casual Dining Restaurants. Fine Dining restaurants offer outstanding and attentive service in enhanced atmospheres. Chefs are most likely to be professionally trained in Fine Dining restaurants.
  • Food Trucks
    A fairly new concept on the Australian restaurant scene, Food Trucks have grown in popularity in the last 5 years. Meals on wheels taken to a whole new level! Food trucks have lower start-up costs than typical ‘brick and motor’ restaurants and are mobile so can travel to different locations like festivals, fetes and markets. You still need to comply with the same health and safety regulations as normal restaurants and may also need local council permits to serve in certain areas.

By all means, the above list is not complete but, in my opinion those are the main concepts in the restaurant industry. Once you decide which of these four categories you want your restaurant to fit into you can decide what you want to serve and who you want to serve it to.

For example, a few months ago a business partner and I started planning for a new restaurant in Melbourne’s Western Suburbs. We wanted to open a Casual Dining style café as we saw a huge market for that in the particular suburb we were looking at. Our ‘what to serve and who to serve it to’ was, all day breakfast and brunch menu with a selection of pre-made café food (salads, sandwiches, cakes, muffins). Our target market was the 25-35 and also 50+ demographic as research has shown these age ranges have more disposable income (pre and post children). However, the target market wasn’t black and white as we still wanted to cater to families with young children. To define our concept, we spent a lot of time researching other successful restaurants that had similar concepts and restaurant trends.

As I’ve already mentioned, it’s super important to get your concept sorted before moving through the 12 steps I outlined on this page. Concept is key, remember that. My major advice for this is, your restaurant’s concept can make or break your success so spend time and effort crafting your concept before moving forward. Run your ideas past family and friends. Ask them whether your restaurant concept appeals to them and whether they’d eat at your restaurant (if they didn’t know you owned it of course). Get honest, constructive feedback.

I hope this post has been helpful, any questions leave a comment below or hit me up via my contact page.

Time for you to get busy!