Restaurant Startup Tip: Choose the right restaurant style

The great thing about working at One Fat Frog is getting to see all of the different kinds of restaurants that our entrepreneur clients own. From ethnic to Americana, from fine dining to casual takeout, all restaurant types are well represented. For the first time restaurant owner, determining your restaurant style is one of the earliest and most important decisions that you have to make.

What style restaurant should my startup have?

Your restaurant’s style is determined by the customers that you want to attract. Fine dining restaurants are going to do better in geographic areas with a higher socioeconomic status. Fast food restaurants – basically anything with a drive thru and/or dollar menu, are going to be most successful in working class neighborhoods and near schools. Restaurant entrepreneurs shouldn’t locate a restaurant specializing in gourmet salads in a warehouse district because the core demographic working in that area – blue collar males such as One Fat Frog employees – aren’t the target demographic of such a restaurant. On the same token, the neighbors of your restaurant startup are also important. It will be more beneficial for a Tilted Kilt franchise to be located near a frat house than near a bar.

A casual restaurant startup, one where you go in and order something cheap to go, will make money off of business traffic during lunch breaks and after work ends. Business can be expected to fall off on the weekends. Destination restaurants, which are often higher priced and more unique, do most of their business at night and especially on the weekends. Sports bars make most of their money on the weekends, especially during the afternoon during football season and any time One Fat Frog employees are depressed and need to drink away their pain.

The overall demographics of your restaurant startup’s city also play a factor in what theme you should have. Just as there are probably not any Cracker Barrel restaurants in Manhattan, a high priced gourmet sushi restaurant would not be as well located in Ocala as it would be in Orlando or Winter Park. On the other hand, if you did want to start a high priced gourmet sushi restaurant in Ocala, the benefit would be a lack of competition, whereas diners in Orlando would have several other options for gourmet sushi. One Fat Frog moved from Sanford to Orlando and we’ve seen a difference in our customer base since the move. When determining your restaurant startup’s style, though, you need to look not only at the area demographics and the income of the area’s customers. You also need to look at your own income. Fine dining restaurants are expected to have fancy place settings and better ingredients, all of which will cost more than the lunch meat for a deli located in a strip mall.

Another important factor in choosing your restaurant startup’s style is the menu you want to create. If you’ve decided to be a first time restaurant owner, it’s probably because you’re thinking of serving a specific dish or type of dish. Most of the customers who walk into One Fat Frog are excited to tell us what their signature dish will be. If we’re talking sandwiches, that menu lends itself to a casual dining restaurant with paper plates and possibly no inside tables (which saves you big money on your rent or lease). If we’re talking filet mignon and bacon-wrapped scallops, that means your restaurant should have cloth napkins, a quiet ambiance, classy interior and a good wine selection. If your specialty is going to be seafood, that can go either way. Are we talking cheap fried fish sandwiches to sell to fisherman off the dock or are we talking coconut crusted flounder with mango chutney?

Whether you’re starting a restaurant in Ocala, Orlando or Winter Park, whether your plans are for a gastropub, fine dining destination or casual lunch spot, determining your restaurant startup’s style is an important decision, one that, among other things, will determine what type of restaurant equipment you need to buy from One Fat Frog. Be sure to put thought into it.

One Fat Frog • 2416 Sandlake Rd. 32809 • Orlando, FL • 407-480-3409