Why are some restaurants a hit while others go bust? There are so many commercial spots that are revolving doors for restaurants; one day its a steak house, the next its a Mexican restaurant. As the old adage “Location, location, location!” (LLL) suggests, of course picking a good spot has a lot to do with it. And even though this will always hold true, we at Mero Mole think the name of the game is “Context, context, context!” (CCC).

The difference between the more old school LLL mentality and the CCC way of thinking is very simple: if you depend solely on your location to succeed, it’s easy to forget about the other myriad variables that combine to make a successful restaurant. However, If you do it Mero Mole style, you will significantly reduce the risk of going bust because you picked a “less than ideal” location.

Another important aspect of this switch from LLL to CCC mentality is that you go from being a real estate focused business to one that is strategically designed for your consumers. So, what is CCC? Basically, it analyzes a number of variables where the brand, the location and the consumer intersect. For example: is my restaurant going to be a destination or walk-in based? What is my average bill going to be and how does that amount tie into my brand image? What will differentiate my food offering that will be relevant to my target market without going over my average bill amount? Which are my main consumption occasions? Finally, analyzing whether these are strong enough to make my business model work.

Once we have the answers to these (and many, many more) questions, then its time to create a concept that is so powerful and airtight that my consumers will be able to smell, touch, see, hear and taste it at the restaurant.

For example:

  • The ears: hearing doesn’t only imply the volume of the ambiance music; it includes acoustics and your servers’ voices.
  • The nose: smelling is not just about the food; it is also about the proper installation of the facilities and the overall cleanliness of the place.
  • The hands: clients touch everything – the silverware, tables, bathrooms, doors, etc.
  • The mouth: how the food tastes is of utmost importance, of course, but don’t underestimate the soap with which you wash your dishes and cutlery.
  • The eyes: tasteful decorating is the most obvious component, but one has to think of everything from table distribution to the chef’s hat.

How do you generate a powerful concept?

The first thing is to define who your consumers are. Waiting on a 50 year-old woman is not the same as waiting on a 20 year-old dude. Once you figure out who you want going to your restaurant, then you design the consumption occasions (what you want them to go to the restaurant for). Only then can you decide if you’re calling yourself fast food, fast casual, casual dining, fine casual or fine dining (more on that later).

In order for the decoration to be in line with your concept, the restaurant’s layout has to be cohesive with what it is you want to transmit. The average foodie spends between 45 to 90 minutes at a restaurant: the clock is running against you as you strive to create a truly great experience from beginning to end, taking advantage of all the brand touch-points so that consumers leave happy and, more importantly, so that they come back.

The restaurant business is not for everyone: whether you own the hottest real estate in town, or whether you have an unlimited budget for chairs that massage your buttocks while you dine – none of that matters unless you aren’t painstaking about making your concept cohesive and coherent, tying together every variable. You’re better off trying your luck in another business. The food and beverage industry is exclusively for those who are willing to do whatever it takes every day in order to produce happy customers with satisfied bellies.

By: Mero Mole.