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Standing Out from the Crowd: Choosing a Theme for Your Restaurant

A successful restaurant needs a great menu, committed staff, and extraordinary ambiance. Choosing a theme can influence the perception of guests, the food served, and the style of service, so you need to place a lot of thought toward how it will help you stand out and make revenue.

What’s on the Menu?

It doesn’t take long to make a breakfast sandwich yet it takes longer to prepare lobster. Your menu determines waiting times and plays a factor in the perceptions of your patrons. For example, a crab shack is associated with informal attire, modest pricing, and quick seating. Alternatively, a steak house features fine attention to detail, higher prices, and longer wait times. An establishment with a varied menu needs to express that through the theme. The popular chain, TGIFriday’s, adopts a fun and nostalgic theme, reflected in its offerings of burgers and fries as well as indulgent alcoholic and virgin cocktails.

Develop Patron Personas

Patron personas are a great tool you and your staff can use to make plans about your customer’s behavior. It is a form of profiling and you can also think of them as your target customers or ideal customers. This gives you a mental framework for targeting the niche of each patron segment. You can find out more about them here.

A persona reflects your target market at large. It identifies your ideal consumer or customers. In the case of a restaurant, a persona could be a person, party of two, or larger party. Create and use these personas to further develop the theme of your restaurant. Basically, personas help you attract your ideal customers.

Let Furniture Dictate the Theme

Aside from rent, restaurant furniture may be one of your biggest upfront costs. Aspects of furniture, such as the shape of tables, can dictate how people engage your restaurant. You may find restaurant table tops at a great price. Bigger seating solutions invite larger parties and louder conversation, the ambiance of a sports bar. Alternatively, tall and small tables present a lounge appearance. Choose the style and size of furniture wisely in addition to giving consideration as to whether you want fixed or mobile solutions.

Study the Area’s History

Not so much like a historian, but do your best in studying the area’s history, spotting trends or seasonal behaviors throughout the year, for it may dictate your theme as well as the business model. A restaurant by the beach, only open for four months, has seasonal furniture, wall colors, decor, and theme, and probably makes most of its profits from tourists on vacation and locals. That differs from a restaurant in a busy downtown area that does well in accommodating business people at lunchtimes and happy hours versus walk-ins and tourists.

Ask for the Guests’ Help

Why not ask the guests what theme they prefer? Narrow your choice to a few, and then try one theme a week. After a series of weeks, see how each was rated by guests, and get input from the staff. You may find that you like the aspect of rotating themes, and that can be your restaurant concept!

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