Are you opening a new restaurant in the Greater Toronto Area? Looking to become the next trending spot on Ossington or in Riverside or the Junction?
Opening a new restaurant is a very exciting venture. With a blank canvas, there is an opportunity to get things right the first time, building a strong foundation to accelerate your restaurant’s success in an ultra-competitive industry.
Here, we at Thinkbound have gathered some of the most significant concerns and questions to ask when starting a restaurant.
There are a lot of the moving parts in a restaurant – so many details in a details-first industry. Everything is so important immediately: first impressions count tremendously. And at Thinkbound, we value the importance of making a fantastic first impression.
You crossed the most important things off the list first:
You secured financing.
You found a good location.
You acquired all the necessary licenses.
What you are left to do at this point is seemingly endless: you need to…
hire experienced staff, and finding the right chef is tantamount to your success.
develop a concept and brand that will work in the neighbourhood.
curate (with the chef) your menu to fit the restaurant’s concept.
acquire a POS system and program it.
determine who your numerous suppliers will be, and create accounts with them.
design and decorate your restaurant to fit with the brand.
design a website that drives traffic to the restaurant.
launch social media accounts and campaigns.
create structures and guides to inform your staff of what they are selling and how they are to operate efficiently.
So what’s next first?
Most of these cannot be accomplished without getting one of them right first: the concept and brand.
There is little point to curating a menu if you do not have a concept for your restaurant; there is no point in decorating your restaurant if you do not have a brand. From the linens and wall colour to the restaurant name and website, everything will need to consistently convey the brand’s values.
The values then lead to the experience you provide for your guests. Your guests can therefore enjoy that experience because they identify with those values – and if they identify, then they will be back again for repeat visits.
The brand finds you guests, and then can translate them into repeat visitors. The brand determines the experience your guests will have – it determines how you structure everything else.
Determining the brand is your next step, and it’s a significant one. We’ve compiled the sorts of questions you need to ask yourself in order to think your way through a restaurant branding strategy:
What is the neighbourhood like?
If the neighbourhood your restaurant resides in is composed mostly of young families, with most residents aged 30-40 with children of ages 1-10, then there is no point in opening a dive bar with a focus on quality whisky and typical pub fair. Instead, a health-conscious food menu that plans for a few kid’s meal options and has a basic range of liquor, wine and beer offerings is probably more appealing to the local residents than is a whisky bar.
Similarly, if there is no proper craft beer venue in the neighbourhood, then perhaps there is an opportunity in the neighbourhood here if the residents have an interest in craft beer products. Your brand will need to speak to the residents of the neighbourhood, so knowing who they are and what tendencies they have will go a long way to carving out a place amongst their tendencies for your brand.
What do you provide the community that no one else does?
There needs to be something about your brand that has it stand out in the neighbourhood. What is that special something that makes your restaurant unique? It may be filling a need in the community or it may be some experience you provide your guests that cannot be found anywhere else or it could be countless other things.
Keep in mind that restaurants are really less about food and drink, and more about the overall experience you provide for your guests. How do you want your guests to feel when they sit in your establishment? What is it about your place that your guests will remember?
This may very-well have to do with the food and/or drink, but thinking things through from the perspective of the guest’s experience (rather than what food you are serving them) provides a much wider lens to peer through when thinking through your brand.
How do you get your audience to identify with your brand?
Your brand must speak to your audience. It needs to have them in mind. This is why it is so important to uncover who exactly your target market is before you decide on a brand.
Once you uncover who they are, then you can ask what sort of values that market holds dear: are they health-conscious or into large-sized meals? Are they chic and classy or down-to-earth and casual? Are they interested in new experiences or do they gravitate towards what is comfortable and familiar? Do they like rock and roll and high energy, or jazz and comfort?
Defining your target market’s values will help elucidate the sorts of values your brand will need to convey to have your audience identify with your brand.
Asking the right questions and thinking through the best solutions are the way through any successful venture.
Question and think
Thinkbound does this for a living: we take the time to understand our clients, their market and needs in order to ask the most prudent questions required to think through a consistent and memorable brand.
We don’t cook your food, but Thinkbound does cook up some of the most delicious marketing and web-based strategies for large and small businesses alike. We move from discussion and brainstorming through to realization and implementation to bring our clients the solutions they need to get noticed and be remembered in their neighbourhoods and beyond.
Thinkbound not only helps you define your brand and lock in your market share, but we also develop the tools you need to convey that brand to your audience:
Social media content and strategies
Printing for menus, business cards, flyers, etc.
Signage and displays (design and production)
General consulting and strategy advice
In an industry so full of ‘to-dos,’ let Thinkbound be your branding sous chef to give you more time to accomplish all the details necessary to opening a new, successful restaurant.
We’re here to make sure the first impression you leave is one that is happy, memorable and positive.
We’re here today to help expand your boundaries and open up your ever-larger future.