You have an idea that you think will resonate with your target audience and you seek to bring it to market. Our first step is to create a financial model that explains how much your restaurant concept will cost to bring to life and then how it will perform once it is open. A big chunk of restaurant concept development occurs during the financial modeling phase, but there are plenty of things to consider.
Creating a restaurant concept by linking together steps in sequential order is short-sighted. It doesn’t balance the brand offering or allow for adjustments. Adjusting one element will affect the other elements…like a mobile that goes off balance when one of it’s charms is altered. Opening a full-service burger restaurant in Texas, for instance, might make sense…until you decide you’d rather to go to Montana where there is no tip credit, forcing your labor model higher and torpedoing the presumed profits. Does it mean you need to stay in Texas? No, you just need to adjust the model for, say, fast casual… stripping away table service… which affects your menu, management, hours of operations, size and location assumptions.
Whether trying to borrow money, impress a landlord, or add to your portfolio, you will need to clarify how much it will cost, what business you will be in, how it will make money…and how much it will make. No one (no one) will fund your project without a Profit Model and, if you’ve never done this before, the chances that you’ll be able to whip up accurate financials are pretty slim.
Once your concept is defined by your Profit Model, it’s time to write about it. This includes concept brand narratives, market research, competitive analysis, brand filter and operating practices, so your investors and stakeholders fully understand your idea.
When it’s time to pitch your project to potential stakeholders, a Concept Book just might be the difference between YES and NO. Our Concept Books bring your pitch to life on large format, glossy bound booklets that showcase the vibe and feel of the concept through imagery and narrative. We do a preliminary layout, show touch points, graphically treat financials, generate sample menu layouts, and inject aspirational imagery. Our philosophy is that you should spend your money only on things that will get you more money.
Once the concept has been articulated through the Phase 1, Phase 2 gets the project moving toward hiring management. This is where we find your location, create timelines, design the space, create menus and then finally hire your management team. By the end of Phase 2 you should begin transitioning your opening process to your management team. We’ll get you there!
We are your agents, confidants, allies, and protectors. We have no conflict of interest because our role is purely to protect you. When a broker shows you their inventory and tries to pass off bad ingress/egress or a one-sided lease agreement, we can be in your corner to separate fact from fiction. As always, we recommend hiring an attorney before signing a lease, but we can help you see through most bad ideas with our only ulterior motive being your success (so you can rave about us later).
Like any project, once you have funding, it’s important to stay on track. Our “warboard” will organized your tasks for the duration of the project in order to map resources and establish important project milestones. We’ll also create a Critical Task List for your team to use as opening day approaches so there is no idle time or double work.
Shortly after you sign your lease, you will be under the gun to get the business open. Landlords often offer a grace period but, at some point, rent will be due. Before you can start construction, the space must be designed, including the kitchen. We create high level menus that will drive your kitchen layout and equipment selections, so you don’t accidentally build a Mexican restaurant engine for your Italian restaurant.
Interior designers are amazingly creative but often overlook design related to time-and-motion efficiency. Kitchen designers are often paid by equipment manufacturers so they have incentive to bloat your kitchen with equipment. Both designers view themselves as the tip of the spear. We control the design process to ensure that your project will operate profitably while making sure it delivers on your brand promises.
With financials, site selection, menu structure and design out of the way, construction can begin. Once it does there are hundreds of small decisions that need to be made about how you will execute your brand. By pulling all of your guest experience decisions through your brand filter, we ensure that your concept stays crisp and easy to understand. Everything from sequence of service, lighting, and employee safety, to merchandising (retail), menu conveyance, website, receiving and trash removal – must be thought through and defined. Poor decisions during this phase and your investment and hard work land in a business that confuses your audience.
Some restaurant owners think they can hire a good chef and then think no more about their menus. This is dangerous because: A) the talent that can carefully craft a profitable menu is usually well beyond the pay range of the talent that it takes to maintain existing recipes and B) the business is at the mercy of talented individuals who may or may not write anything down. We say, outsource menu engineering …to craft menus that deliver target profit margins, spread the workload among stations, feature industrialized recipes with accurate yields, and can be executed by an affordable staff. It’s easier to find people who can execute what they’re taught than to find affordable creative talent that will stay put.