Many a restaurant has been started without giving thought to what is its purpose - But to become successful every foodservice operation must begin with the conception of a theme. The theme is the major idea of the restaurant, the artistic representation of the specific and distinct quality of visual imagery and detail that shows "why it is here."
The theme can be a central portrayal of the idea of a western bar, or a southern plantation, or an Alpine ski resort or a hundred ideas that stimulate a desire in a hungry person to select one place over another without ever stepping through the door.
It is important to have a dynamite concept and the means of conveying that image by making your theme "POP." Whether or not you are an old hand at the restaurant game or a neophyte, you must start with a concept of your theme. Only if you plan to buy an existing restaurant to continue operating it as is, or if you are planning to operate a franchise can you ignore this most important task.
I believe that it is crucial that you have a suitable theme concept. By concept I mean the over all vision of the menu, what you will serve, your services, how and who will do it, the ambiance of how the facility will look, and what impression it will make on the customers the first time they come in and every time.
Finally, how will you treat your customers and what impression will they take home of you and your staff? For the restaurant to work effectively it's important that all of these elements work together. This vision of working together is what I call the Concept Unification Plan (CUP).
CUP makes the theme "POP."
For all first timers, to become successful in foodservice, you must first visualize what you would love to do and then exploit it to the maximum. First, dream the possible - the building, decor, type of employees, menu and the sights of the food themselves. Let your imagination roam. Vivid imagery is the stuff from which spring the themes for all great food establishments.
I have assisted many start-ups using the CUP method. To begin, your menu must reflect the theme that you wish to create. It is a major factor in reinforcing your theme. Each potential menu item must be scrutinized two ways; does it fit into the theme and is it a good profitable item? Definition and standardization of the products will work the theme into food and beverages.
Second, the theme must be respected when defining portion sizes, how foods are placed on plates or packaged for a carry out, how they are garnished, what is served hot and what is served cold. These need to be coordinated with the representation of your theme.
Third, what you charge for your products must be carefully developed to fulfill the theme's vision.
Your theme has intrinsic pricing parameters that will contradict the theme's concept if they are not obeyed. A formal theme with exotic decor and foods, would be suspect, if the prices were below those of a shabby coffee shop. Likewise, if your pricing is at the highest level mimicking that of a haute cuisine continental restaurant, customers will shy away if you are operating a regional family café. I have taught the CUP method to many persons new to the business. They found it of great benefit in incorporating their dreams and making them "POP" into a restaurant reality.Mr. Lloyd M. Gordon, President of GEC Consultants, Inc. has an MBA from the University of Chicago. He has concepted more than 390 restaurants and has been consulting for over 44 years. He helps people enter the restaurant industry, points the way to profitability, and helps keep them successful. To discuss "Make Your Theme Concept "Pop" he can be reached at 847-674-6310. email firstname.lastname@example.org or on the web at www.gecconsultants.com.
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