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What is the Best Type of Restaurant to Open?

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What is the Best Type of Restaurant to Open?

There are many types of restaurant concepts to choose from.

Clarita
Question: What is the Best Type of Restaurant to Open?
Dear Restauranting Guide,

What is the best type of restaurant to open? I have always wanted to open my own restaurant, but I’m not sure what type of concept would be best. A friend told me I should open a franchise, because it would be easier. But I like the idea of starting my restaurant concept from scratch. What do you think?

Meredith C.

Answer: Dear Meredith,

I’m sad to say there is no one “secret to success” restaurant concept. It’s a mixture of doing your homework, selecting the right location, knowing your competition and staying within your budget. Of course, certain concepts are perennial favorites; i.e. diners will never go out of style.

I’m with you on starting a restaurant from scratch, versus a franchise. But that is just my personal preference. Franchises have a lot of perks: instant name recognition, ready-made menus, solid success rate. They can also be pricey. A McDonalds franchise costs around $300,000 minimum. Taco Bell requires a whopping $1.2 million, minimum! If you want to know more about buying a restaurant, check out this article, Most Popular Food Franchises and How Much They Cost by About.com guide Don Daszkowski.

Opening an independent restaurant gives you complete creative freedom. It is also untested - you won’t know for sure if your restaurant concept will work unless you try it. As far as choosing a particular restaurant concept, it depends on a number of factors:

    • What’s your competition? Are there already three barbeque restaurants in your area? Does it really need a fourth?

    • Who are your demographics? Who do you envision as customers? Families with small kids? College students? Young single professionals? Different restaurant concepts appeal to different types of people.

    • What’s your budget? This more than anything can determine what type of restaurant concept you decide upon. The amount of money you have for start-up capital can only go so far. For example, getting ready to open one of my restaurants, we wanted to install an authentic wood fired pizza oven and have that be the focus of our restaurant concept. But the cost to have it made and installed and to make the necessary improvements to the building (it’s far heavier than a traditional commercial oven and the floor needed special braces to support the oven) would have put us way over budget. Instead we opted for a regular pizza oven and turned our focus to something else.

    • What’s your location look like? If you have a location picked out, it can influence the type of restaurant concept you choose. For example, maybe you have a spot picked out on the coast and so, it would be a natural fit to feature fresh seafood.

    • What type of restaurant do you feel most comfortable in? If you don’t like to eat at a place that has tablecloths, then a fine dining restaurant may not be the best choice. If you like a small, friendly atmosphere of a café or diner, perhaps build a unique concept around that. To help you get started, here is a description of different types of restaurant concepts.

I would caution you against building any kind of restaurant concept around current food trends (or fads, to be more precise). Trends, just like in fashion, come and go. Think back to the Nineties, when coffee houses were all the rage. While Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts have both managed to keep coffee front and center as their main concept, few others have. Read more about spotting food trends and how to make them work for your restaurant concept.

Planning a new restaurant is exciting (and can be a bit scary). By doing research into the local demographics and competition and compiling a thorough business plan, you will lay a strong foundation for a successful restaurant.

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