First things first, what is the restaurant concept?

Basically, the restaurant concept is your business model; it explains how your restaurant works, its price structure, service level, menu, interior design, and ambiance. The concept may even be expressed through its location.

The restaurant concept is a very important element in the development of your startup restaurant.

There are four types of restaurant concepts to choose from, when you’re planning a restaurant startup.

Deciding on the concept that will be right for you can be a difficult decision. Before you decide here is a breakdown and definition of each concept, included is their average price range and customer demographics so you can get started on defining your own restaurant concept for your business.

Fine Dining Restaurant Concept

Fine Dining Cuisine Concept

Fine dining is not exclusive to a single cuisine, although French, Italian, steak, and seafood restaurants are commonly classified as fine dining.

Dining at a fine dining restaurant is meant to be an elegant experience, delicate linen napkins, fine dinner ware, formal dressed staff, top shelf liqueurs, cognacs, and a wine cellar.

Fine dining restaurant chefs consider their meals an art.  Guests typically enjoy an appetizer, salad, main course, and dessert.  

Price range-Average main course: $30–$50

Demographics-Those most likely to dine frequently at fine dining restaurants assume the higher end of the income spectrum, with an income of $100,000 or more.

Casual Dining Concept Guests

Casual Restaurant Concept

Casual restaurants often serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner. They serve all kinds of different food, including steak, cheeseburgers, Chinese, Italian, Mexican, seafood, etc.

Casual restaurants follow full service model like fine dining. Guests are seated at a table with a dedicated server who takes and delivers their order. They are kid-friendly establishments and strive to create a casual atmosphere, where kids are welcome, but adults can still enjoy a full bar.

It’s common for casual restaurants to belong to a chain franchise.

Price range-Average dinner price: $15–$25

Demographics-Target is blue collar, middle-class demographic. A 2014 study from Morgan Stanley revealed that casual dining’s core customers are baby boomers between 50 and 68 years old. Casual restaurants appeal to a larger demographic, from kids with a short attention span to older folk who may like a glass of white wine with their meals. You are most likely to see parents with children, large groups, teenagers, and seniors dining.

Fast Casual Restaurant Concept

Fast Casual

The latest trend in restaurant concepts, fast casual has taken the industry by storm and is currently the fastest growing concept. Fast casual is best described as combining casual dining with take out. Fast casual has all the operational aspects of a fast food restaurant but is differentiated by the quality of ingredients and are focus on delivering healthy, sustainable fast food.

Price range-Average check: $12, approximately $7 more than the average fast food chain

Demographics-According to Morgan Stanley, millennials make up 51% of fast casual customers. Fast casual restaurants target younger professionals who are busy but are also health environmentally and socially conscious.

Fast Food Restaurant Concept

Also known as quick service restaurants (QSRs), fast food restaurants often have meals the grab-and-go demand. With limited table service and cafeteria seating, fast food restaurants prepare food to-go and usually follow a franchised business model.

While the fast food restaurant concepts are known as cheap burger joints in the past, fast food has recently expanded to include fast casual restaurants and fancier establishments with more expensive meals and no seating.

Burger joints, pizza parlors, sandwich shops, chicken restaurants, and burrito joints make up most of the fast food concepts.

Price range- Average check: $5–$10

Demographics-While all age groups indulge in fast food, middle income earners are more likely to eat fast food than those who of higher than average income or lower than average income.

Food Truck Concept

Is also considered a fast food concept.

The food truck has evolved from its status as greasy chip truck to a restaurant on wheels.

Today food trucks pull up in busy urban areas with menus that are more robust than the hot dog and fries.

Food trucks bring their food by strategically positioning themselves outside workplaces, breweries, festivals, and concerts. From: fish tacos, lobster rolls, pulled pork on a bun, pakora, banh mi, and almost anything can be served out of a truck.

Many successful food trucks go on to establish brick and mortar restaurants once they see enough profit.

Price range-Average meal price: $7–$15

Demographics-Millennials may be considered the “food truck generation”: 47% of millennials have eaten from a food truck. All age groups are enjoying food trucks today than ever before.

Let Your Concept Be Your Guide

By understanding and learning the differences you will discove which one is the best fit for your personality, strengths, ideas and cuisine.

Knowing your concept will help you in hiring and training your staff, developing your menu and beverage program, setting up your kitchen and dining room, and purchasing and managing inventory and the list goes on.

When success is so reliant on a concept, it’s unsettling to know that so many will read this, and continue to open their doors without thinking critically about the concept.

If you need assistance with deciding your concept or have questions let HELP.