Your concept must be a reflection of you and your vision for the restaurant. Determine the type of food you want to serve by assessing the whitespace and competition in the market. Chef Nicola says it’s okay to modify your original idea. “If your concept doesn’t work, in time you may need to completely change it. And that’s okay, too. A lot of people don’t like changes —  the only person who needs to like the change is you.”

Design the Space

Visualize the type of space you'd like to create before you choose a color scheme, logo, and other marketing insignia.

A large empty space quickly fills up when you start adding commercial kitchens, walk-in refrigerators, a bar, restrooms and waiting area.

For an intimate dining experience, use dark colors to make a space seem smaller and choose comfortable seating to be more inviting.

For a quick service atmosphere, use bold colors, bright lights, and hard seats to ensure that tables turn quickly. Chef Nicola advises, “Décor is a personal thing, and a great way to reflect what you want to do with your concept. You can use classic elements and or something modern and trendy.” A design consultant might cost a little extra money, but they can maximize seating and space in a way a restauranteur may not be able to. See more tips and advice on how to build your brand through decor. 

Know the local laws. For example, what equipment requires black iron? What type of pipes do you need to have? Can you be grandfathered into pre-ADA rules if you’re taking over a space that was previously a restaurant? Can you get a liquor license?

Design the Concept

For branding appeal, it’s essential to create a restaurant logo and color scheme. This will serve as your restaurant emblem and appear on your menu cover, marketing and press material, storefront and outdoor décor like umbrellas, take out containers, and customizable items such as glassware. Remember that color is a mark of recognition, so choose your logo hues wisely.

Concept design may be another place to consider outsourcing the service. Branding experts are fast and get excellent results, whereas owners often have their attention divided all over the place and may not split attention, and probably doesn't understand much about branding.