8 Successful Restaurant Concepts + Ideas To Inspire (2022)

The right concept is crucial when opening your restaurant, a new location, or refreshing your brand.

Get your concept right and you'll be on your way to rave reviews, recommendations, and loyal clientele. Get it wrong—with a menu that doesn't fit the ambiance or pricey dishes not suited for the clientele—and would-be regulars will at best feel confused and at worst never return.

It's easier said than done, and even the most experienced restaurateurs don;t always get it right. But with a little guidance and inspiration, you can ignite your creativity. Here are seven successful restaurant concepts to inspire and guide you.

Table of Contents

  • What is a restaurant concept?
  • What Makes a Successful Restaurant Concept
  • How Do I Choose a Restaurant Concept?

What is a restaurant concept?

A restaurant concept is the theme that defines who you are as a restaurant. Restaurant concepts define the overall theme or idea behind a restaurant, including cuisine, service style, music, and menu design. Restaurant concept inspiration comes from a variety of places, like heritage, family background, a far-off place, or personal experience. They can also be inspired by time periods, public interests, art, and culture. And it can, of course, be a mix of many of those things—and that's what makes every restaurant unique. Read on to learn more about what goes into a restaurant concept.

What Makes a Successful Restaurant Concept

8 Successful Restaurant Concepts + Ideas To Inspire (1)

Name

The name of your restaurant should evoke the theme, and give diners an idea of what to expect. Keep it simple, memorable, and true to the concept you choose. Look to signature dishes, tradition, or location when choosing a restaurant name. Here are a few examples of restaurants with names that ooze concept:

  • Parm: Casual Italian, known for their Chicken Parm Sandwiches
  • Fresh: Modern vegan and vegetarian food with an emphasis on whole and natural ingredients
  • Umami Burger: Casual burger spot with an empaths on flavor

Menu design

The way your menu is presented should also reflect your concept. A fine-dining restaurant with an emphasis on ingredients may present the menu simply, with descriptions of where the ingredients are from. Conversely, a casual neighborhood sandwich shop may name their sandwiches after local heroes or landmarks.

Decor

The design of your restaurant should also reflect the concept. A seafood spot may have nautical decor, whereas a health-focuses concept may use clean, modern decor to evoke cleanliness and simplicity.

Restaurant Concepts & Ideas

From casual restaurants and coffee shops to fast food chains and new trending restaurant concepts like the virtual restaurant, there's a restaurant concept for every owner and every diner.

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1. Virtual Restaurants

Virtual restaurants, also known as ghost kitchens, cloud kitchens, or dark kitchens, are a relatively new concept that's growing alongside the delivery app market. These restaurants take orders through online apps and use 'ghost kitchens' or virtual kitchens that offer virtual menus to take-out customers.

Pros:

  • Very low labor and inventory costs and steady incremental sales growth
  • Cheap digital menu marketing that captures a share of online dining demand
  • Agility to easily experiment with different concepts to find and grow the most successful

Cons:

  • Less control over incoming demand and customer service when relying on third-party apps
  • Need to manage the impact on staff morale of working online orders without receiving tips
  • The high volatility and profitability of this early-days concept may be too risky for some

Example: Cluster Truck

2. The Café and Coffee Concept

Ranging from large chains such as Starbucks to smaller neighborhood shops, the café concept is immensely popular. Restaurants embodying this concept, sometimes follow a self-service model—although service is common in some establishments. Coffee shops have a casual and relaxed atmosphere, with patrons typically ordering food like coffee, pastries, and sandwiches.

Pros:

  • Cafe scheduling is often easier—although if you have a roastery, you'll need staff who are willing to start at 4 am
  • Labor costs are lower because you need fewer staff
  • You'll have lower overheads unless you're a large chain
  • Opening a coffee shops lets you experiment with unique flavor profiles that appeal to millennials, who are a key driver of coffee sales

Cons:

  • A limited variety of dishes means menus are smaller
  • Coffee and dessert is the main focus. You'll need to find ways to get more customers through the doors for lunch

Example: Kaldi's Coffee Roasting Co.

3. Fast Food Chains

Fast food chains or quick service restaurants prepare mass-produced take-out food and usually follow a franchise model. These restaurants generally have limited menus, no seating, and fewer (if any) servers compared full-service restaurants.

Pros:

  • Labor costs are lower because there are no servers
  • Food costs are modest due to limited menus and cheaper ingredients
  • Lower food costs contribute to higher margins
  • This is a proven concept with a massive demand for take-out food in the U.S.

Cons:

  • You have limited control because these concepts often follow a franchise model—not ideal if you want to create a unique concept
  • 24/7 employee scheduling can be challenging.
  • The initial franchising costs are higher than opening an independent restaurant

Example: Shake Shack

4. Fast-Casual Restaurants

Fast-casual restaurants are a new trendy concept that combines fast food and casual dining. The concept has many characteristics of fast food restaurants—food made to order and disposable packaging— with a few notable differences: Upscale food and a more inviting sit-down atmosphere.

Pros:

  • This concept is ideal if your target audience craves healthier food options and a casual sit-down atmosphere
  • Many customers are willing to pay more for healthy foods, leading to more profits

Cons:

  • You have higher overhead costs because you need more seating and servers
  • More staff makes employee scheduling trickier
  • Food costs are higher than quick service restaurants because the quality of ingredients are better
  • Opening a fast-casual restaurant is more expensive

Example: PitaWay

5. Family-Style Concept

Family-style restaurants follow the full-service model with seating and dedicated servers. Menus are extensive, with a wide variety of dishes across breakfast, lunch, and dinner. "Casual," "friendly," and "relaxed,"—these are words you'd associate with this concept.

Pros:

  • Family restaurants are a proven concept
  • The concept is perfect for families and casual diners
  • You can attract patrons with reasonable prices and a large variety

Cons:

  • Labor costs are higher because of the full-service model
  • Staff scheduling is more challenging, making it harder to navigate staff availability
  • Your food costs are higher as food portions are bigger

Example: Andolini's Pizza

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6. Food Trucks & Pop-up Restaurants

Food trucks have risen in popularity in the past decade, and for good reason: they're fun! Often grouped together in outdoor spaces, food trucks offer exciting food and can be uses for any concept, from ice cream to noodles.

Pros:

  • Low overhead costs
  • Very popular among diners
  • You can go to your clientele, rather of them coming to you

Cons:

  • Small spaces to work in
  • Lack of a consistent location
  • Often competing with many others directly next to you

Example: Cousin's Maine Lobster

7. Pub or Bar

Pubs and bars are always a solid concept for food service: they're sought out by customers in good times and bad. And there is a lot of variation that can fall under this umbrella: pubs with food, cocktail bars, wine bars, speakeasies, dive bars, and more.

Pros:

  • High markup of alcoholic beverages—up to 400%
  • Less food inventory
  • It's a proven concept with a lot of success

Cons:

Recommended Reading: Opening and Owning a Bar: Everything You Need to Know

Examples: The Monarch Bar

How Do I Choose a Restaurant Concept?

Consider your experience and what excites you

Look to what you know—be it from professional experience or life experience. Think of what kind of restaurant you would like to see, and what kind of food or atmosphere you gravitate towards. Chances are, there are hungry diners that gravitate towards those things too, and that level of authenticity is hard to replicate.

Think about location and customer base

Consider both the location, and by extension, the existing customer base when developing your concept. Do a survey of what restaurants are doing well in your area to get a good understand of diner's preferences. Take it a step further and conduct a feasibility study to see whether your concept has legs.

Keep consistency

All in all, making sure that your concept is aligned across all aspects of your restaurant that we mentioned above. The last thing you want is a disjointed concept where the decor and menu and service style just don't mesh. Guests will notice, and your business will be affected for it.

You may understand the importance of having a solid concept, but struggle to choose the right one. These seven concepts, from the proven fast food chains to the trendy virtual restaurants, will help spark your creativity.

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And remember: Regardless of your concept, you'll always have to manage labor and inventory which can be challenging.

That's why having the right scheduling app helps. With a restaurant scheduling app like 7shifts, you'll simplify your full-service restaurant scheduling and save time no matter your restaurant concept. So, why not give 7shifts a try today?

Start using 7shifts today

7shifts is the all-in-one labor platform built for restaurants to simplify employee scheduling and labor management. Easily manage your teams’ schedules, timesheets, communication, tasks, tips and more– all in one place with 7shifts.

Start FREE Trial.

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FAQs

What are the qualities of successful restaurant concepts? ›

10 Characteristics of Highly Successful Restaurants
  • Study of Restaurant Business. ...
  • Good Quality Food. ...
  • Beverages. ...
  • Location. ...
  • Positive Guest Experience. ...
  • Menu Design. ...
  • Prioritize Hygiene. ...
  • Skilled Management.

What is the most popular restaurant concept? ›

The fast food restaurant concept attracts diners because of its price, convenience, and speed. In fact, fast food is the most widely recognized type of restaurant in the world thanks to franchise chains like McDonald's, Burger King, KFC, Taco Bell, and others.

What are 8 examples of programs that are needed for restaurant operations? ›

  • 15 Restaurant Industry Technology Tools You Need to Power Your Business. Molly Weinberg. ...
  • Restaurant Customer Relationship Management (CRM) System. ...
  • Reservation Platform. ...
  • Table Management System. ...
  • Waitlist Management Software. ...
  • Payment Processor. ...
  • Contactless Order and Pay Solution. ...
  • Direct Online Ordering Platform.
30 Jul 2021

What is a concept statement for a restaurant? ›

A restaurant concept statement should define the characteristics and objectives of the product or service. Most importantly, a restaurant concept statement defines the customer's problem and how it is solved by this business.

What is the most profitable restaurant concept? ›

Fine dining restaurants are one of the most profitable restaurant types. They offer an upscale experience that diners are willing to pay a premium for. There are many factors that go into making a fine dining restaurant successful.

What are 7 factors you must consider when you develop a menu? ›

To plan a good menu you need to consider the following factors:
  • food cost and budgetary goals of the foodservice operation.
  • production capability, including available equipment and personnel.
  • type of service and food delivery system.
  • availability of foods.
  • the philosophy of the business and foodservice operation.

What are the 7 key points for trends in food service? ›

Seven Restaurant Trends That Will Define 2022
  • Simplified Menus. ...
  • Health-Conscious Food Will Dominate Menus. ...
  • Green Kitchens and Environmental Concerns. ...
  • Ghost Kitchens. ...
  • Delivery Options. ...
  • Strengthen Online Presence. ...
  • Self-Serve/Grab-and-Go and Use of Automation. ...
  • Watch Out for the Trends: Only Way to Survive.
2 Apr 2022

What are the 7 factors that influence menu planning? ›

Factors Influencing Meal Planning
  • Nutritional Adequacy.
  • Economic Considerations.
  • Food Service.
  • Equipment and Work Space.
  • Leftover Food.
  • Food Habits.
  • Availability.
  • Meal Frequency and Pattern.
5 Jan 2020

What are the greatest success of any restaurants? ›

The Most Successful Restaurants Have These 4 Things in Common
  • Satisfying Customer Experiences. This may sound like another obvious answer, but what goes into a satisfying customer experience changes as customer expectations evolve. ...
  • Optimized Workflow. ...
  • Scalable Technology Solutions. ...
  • A Reputable Provider.

What are the 3 core of successful restaurant? ›

Restaurant Musings: 3 Core Elements of a Restaurant
  • Customer Service + Staff. It is no surprise that customer service is important. ...
  • Food. One of the major keys to having a successful restaurant is to choose the right type of food, the quality of ingredients as well as how to present your dishes. ...
  • Marketing.
5 Mar 2019

What are the 5 great steps for designing a concept? ›

The design must meet the user needs. In this case doing up a persona based on who the users of a product are will help you to keep your design focused on the user.
...
Understand what the goals are for both!
  • know if the brief is correct.
  • guide your research.
  • enable you to pitch a design path with confidence.
13 Jul 2016

What are the 6 principles of good menu planning? ›

To improve food quality, household meals should be planned based on six principles; namely adequacy, balance, calorie (energy) control, nutrient density, moderation and variety.

Why is restaurant concept important? ›

The concept of your restaurant is vital because it is basically the limitation that you put on your restaurant in terms of profitability, target customers, and more details related to finances. It is also important to define your concept along with your business plan.

What are the 7 steps to start a restaurant brand? ›

Don't Forget These 7 Steps When Opening a New Restaurant
  1. Create a Concept. ...
  2. Choose a Name. ...
  3. Make a Business Plan. ...
  4. Find Financing. ...
  5. Check the Legal Aspects. ...
  6. Hire the Staff. ...
  7. Promote Your Restaurant. ...
  8. Customers, Great Service and Superb Food Equals Success.

What are operational goals of a restaurant? ›

Increase sales and profits. Increase the exposure of the restaurant. Keep the restaurant profitable at all times. Keep the gastronomic offer of the restaurant inexpensive or low-cost.

What are the ways to improve the restaurant delivery service system? ›

How to Improve Your Food Delivery Service in 2022
  1. Make it easy for customers to order food anywhere, anytime.
  2. Use data to adjust your schedule and delivery radius.
  3. Introduce various payment and fulfillment options.
  4. Streamline the order acceptance process.
  5. Come up with new marketing materials and promotions.
5 Mar 2021

What are the 5 types of concepts? ›

Developments of Concepts: 5 Types | Psychology
  • This article throws light upon the five types of developments of concepts. ...
  • Concepts are based on Actions:
  • Words are Expressions of Concepts:
  • Animistic and Realistic Concepts of Physical Objects:
  • Ego-Centric Concepts and Objective Concepts:
  • Abstraction and Generalization:

What is a concept example? ›

Concepts can be based on real phenomena and are a generalized idea of something of meaning. Examples of concepts include common demographic measures: Income, Age, Eduction Level, Number of SIblings.

What is a concept statement example? ›

If you're writing a concept statement for a product or service, you might describe how its key features can benefit customers with specific requirements. For example, a concept statement for a pet boarding facility might describe a training program for pet owners who have no time for classes in their weekly schedules.

How can I make my restaurant more profitable? ›

7 Ways To Make Your Restaurant More Profitable
  1. Reduce Food Costs. It makes sense that the cost of food is a big deal for restaurants. ...
  2. Reduce overhead. ...
  3. Teach your staff how to upsell. ...
  4. Utilize a Good POS. ...
  5. Sell Merch. ...
  6. Manage reordering and inventory. ...
  7. Make sure you're marketing.

What is the most important ingredient in a restaurant success? ›

5 ingredients to restaurant success
  • Hiring the right people.
  • Thoughtful, thorough training.
  • Developing good leaders.
  • Enforcing the rules.
  • Monitoring the numbers.
5 Apr 2022

What are the 5 principles in planning a menu? ›

They are:
  • Adequacy.
  • Balance.
  • Variety.
  • Moderation.
  • Nourishment.
28 Jan 2020

What five factors are important to make a meal appealing? ›

ELEMENTS THAT MAKE FOOD APPEALING:
  • COLOR: Some of the most beautiful objects in nature are foods. ...
  • TEXTURE: What can be seen; it can be felt with the tongue. ...
  • SIZE AND SHAPE: Use various sizes and shapes. ...
  • FLAVOR: Variety is important! ...
  • TEMPERATURE: Meals are more interesting if some hot and some cold foods are used.
14 Dec 2006

What 8 factors influence the choice of foods on a menu? ›

Along with these influences, a number of other factors affect the dietary choices individuals make, including:
  • Taste, texture, and appearance. ...
  • Economics. ...
  • Early food experiences. ...
  • Habits. ...
  • Culture. ...
  • Geography. ...
  • Advertising. ...
  • Social factors.

What is the concept of food trends? ›

Food trends are widespread changes in food preferences. Some such trends prove to be long-lasting. Food trends are often discussed in magazines devoted to cuisine, and around the internet.

What 4 factors are most important in your food decisions? ›

Biological determinants such as hunger, appetite, and taste. Economic determinants such as cost, income, availability. Physical determinants such as access, education, skills (e.g. cooking) and time. Social determinants such as culture, family, peers and meal patterns.

What are the 6 types of menus? ›

What Are The Five Types of Menus? The five types of menus most commonly used are a la carte menus, static menus, du jour menus, cycle menus, and fixed menus.

What are 3 important factors when designing a menu? ›

The Importance of Menu Planning
  • Your guests.
  • Production and service capabilities.
  • Availability of ingredients.
  • Food cost.

What are 3 things you need to consider when planning a menu? ›

What are the Factors to Consider while Planning a Menu
  • Competition.
  • The policy of the establishment.
  • Customer.
  • Operational aspect.
  • Gastronomic standpoint.
  • Nutritional aspect.
  • Government regulations.
21 Jun 2022

What makes a successful restaurant brand? ›

Successful restaurant brands have a clear, cohesive set of core values and vision of success, prioritize consistency over creativity, perceive the restaurant the same way their guests do, and use emotion to inspire—rather than manipulate—guests. “People buy brands they trust,” adds Burns.

What makes a good restaurant great? ›

A great restaurant will make sure that every staff member understands their role to enhance the guests experience. This is a vital area where a restaurant need to succeed in. A well mannered staff with a positive attitude and friendly demeanor goes a long way even if something should be wrong with the food.

What are the 4 P's of a restaurant? ›

Everyone knows a restaurant that has mediocre food, but does a landslide business. The key to all of these is to differentiate you from the competition. Using Product, Place, Promotion, and Price to build a marketing plan can help get you there.

What are the 9 skills needed for the foodservice industry? ›

What are food service skills?
  • Food preparation.
  • Waiting tables.
  • Food knowledge.
  • Point of sales system.
  • Reservation system.
  • Operating kitchen equipment.
  • Sanitizing procedures.
  • Bartending.

What are the 3 C's in restaurant? ›

The Three Critical C's of a Successful Restaurant Startup
  • Three things needed for success in your restaurant startup Cuisine, Customer and Concept!
  • Cuisine – First thing to consider when planning your restaurant is your cuisine.
2 Dec 2018

What are restaurant concepts? ›

What is a restaurant concept? A restaurant concept is the theme that defines who you are as a restaurant. Restaurant concepts define the overall theme or idea behind a restaurant, including cuisine, service style, music, and menu design.

What qualities would you bring to a restaurant? ›

Traits such as timeliness, ability to manage multiple responsibilities, money management and good people skills can translate into many positions, as is your ability to be a fast learner.

What qualities are restaurants looking for? ›

Skills like managing difficult or angry customers, great verbal communication and teamwork are all sought after workplace skills.
...
The most important soft skills you need to be considered for a restaurant position include:
  • Customer service skills.
  • Attention to detail.
  • Communication Skills.
  • Problem Solving Skills.
1 Apr 2022

Why it is important to have restaurant concept? ›

The concept of your restaurant is vital because it is basically the limitation that you put on your restaurant in terms of profitability, target customers, and more details related to finances. It is also important to define your concept along with your business plan.

What are the 7 skills that a food service person must posses? ›

Important Skills for Food Server Jobs
  • What Kind of Skills Do Food Servers Need?
  • Types of Food Server Skills.
  • Friendliness.
  • Communication.
  • Attention to Detail.
  • Energy.
  • Problem Solving.
  • Focus.
20 May 2022

What are the 8 personal characteristics that are important to the success of a food service professional? ›

8 traits of a true kitchen professional
  • RESPECT FOR KITCHEN ORGANIZATION. ...
  • RESPECT FOR PEERS. ...
  • RESPECT FOR INGREDIENTS. ...
  • RESPECT FOR SPACE AND EQUIPMENT. ...
  • RESPECT FOR THE CUSTOMER. ...
  • RESPECT FOR THE UNIFORM. ...
  • RESPECT FOR ESTABLISHED PROCEDURES AND METHODS. ...
  • RESPECT FOR THE BUSINESS OF FOOD.

How can I make my restaurant more successful? ›

10 Tips for Running a Successful Restaurant
  1. CONSISTENCY IS KEY. Ask 10 food service professionals about how to run a successful restaurant, and you hear 100 great answers. ...
  2. BUY SMART INSTEAD OF CHEAP. ...
  3. KEEP THE MENU FLEXIBLE. ...
  4. DO YOUR MATH. ...
  5. RUN A TIGHT KITCHEN. ...
  6. STAND OUT ON SOCIAL MEDIA. ...
  7. EXPLORE AND EXPAND. ...
  8. VALUE YOUR STAFF.
12 Mar 2020

What is the most important thing in choosing the restaurant concept? ›

Concepts include the your menu's design, service style, dining room decor, and — of course — the style of food. Many restaurants are conceived based on a chef's personal experiences or interests. Heritage, local ingredients, traditions, or family are all common sources of inspiration for restaurant concepts.

What are the most important success factors for a restaurant? ›

A strong restaurant identity, hiring and retaining your staff and building a supportive environment, familiarizing yourself with profit and loss statements, creating a profitable menu (and learning how to market your best-selling items) are just some of the key elements of successful restaurants.

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