Posted 2 years ago by Jane Sea

7 Creative Restaurant Concept Ideas That Will Give You a Competitive Edge6 min read

Keeping track of the latest industry trends is one of the most effective ways to identify winning restaurant concepts for the future. According to market forecasts for 2019, casual, fine-dining and fast-casual restaurants will grow faster than they did in 2018. Once you’ve pinpointed the niche, however, you’ll also have to select the specific restaurant idea that will help you stand out from the competition.

The range of viable restaurant concepts is large and includes:

  • Food trucks
  • A pop-up restaurant
  • A restaurant that incorporates a high-tech concept in the service
  • Bistros
  • Pubs
  • Casual-style dining
  • Authentic pizzeria
  • An ethnic restaurant

The list goes on and on. Some of these concepts will be easier to implement and could contribute to better monetization opportunities in 2019 and beyond.

Being creative and choosing the right niche will both help you pinpoint the restaurant concept that will ensure sustainable growth. Here are some of our restaurant concept suggestions anticipated to produce excellent business development chances in the years to come.


Virtual Restaurant

If you want to make use of new technologies and offer a good service in a dynamic world, a virtual restaurant would be the way to go.

The service is offered via an app, a website or a food delivery platform. The restaurant makes use of a “ghost kitchen” to prepare the food and ensure timely delivery to clients. In some instances, subscription options are available to give loyal clients consistency and a discount.

The pros of opening a virtual restaurant include:

  • Smaller investment in comparison to a typical representative of the restaurant industry
  • Increased flexibility
  • A chance to reach a larger audience than in the case of people having to attend a venue
  • Opportunity to experiment with various concepts

A few challenges to address include the inability of staff members to receive tips and reliance on delivery service providers (less control over the quality of customer service).


Pop-Up Restaurant

Pop-up restaurants give you the benefits of a physical location but you can test the respective venue for a limited amount of time.

The idea originated in the 1960s, but its popularity has increased once again today. A pop-up restaurant gives you a chance to test an idea and to explore the attitudes of the local audience before moving on to something a bit more permanent.

Pop-up restaurant concepts come with the following advantages:

  • Cheaper than starting a traditional brick-and-mortar restaurant
  • Can open almost anywhere
  • Tests the attitude of customers towards a certain type of cuisine

Pop-up restaurants impress with original concepts and menus that aren’t readily available in the neighborhood. This is why you’ll have to put a lot of thought and creativity into developing an idea that isn’t readily available already.


Vegan and Healthy Fast Food Restaurant

Fast food venues offer quick service and convenience.

Today’s client, however, is increasingly conscious about healthy food choices. Both millennials and baby boomers are becoming more proactive towards selecting the right menus. This is one of the reasons behind the fast food decline reported lately.

Bringing together healthy food and quick service is a winning concept because:

  • You can tap into the busy crowd that wants quick service and healthy meals
  • Building a respectable brand is simplified
  • Healthy fast food is costlier than traditional fast food, appealing to higher income customer demographics

On the downside, you will need to invest more in equipment and the selection of a central, hip urban venue. Location will be very important for the success of this restaurant concept.


A Culinary Experience Restaurant

Customers today want more than good food – they want an experience. This is why dining in the dark became so popular some time ago. When you offer a unique culinary experience, you quickly differentiate yourself from other industry representatives.

Diner in the Sky is a unique restaurant chain that makes dining much more than the consumption of food. Ice bars and restaurants provide another unorthodox opportunity that most people will be curious about.

The benefits of opening a culinary experience restaurant include:

  • High engagement level
  • An easy chance to differentiate yourself from other restaurants
  • Customer-centric experience that quickly maximizes loyalty

In order to be successful, however, you will need to come up with a unique experience that appeals to a young and hip crowd of restaurant-goers.


Cook-It-Yourself Restaurant

As you’ve probably concluded already, offering an engaging aspect of the culinary experience is important because of the way contemporary customers perceive food and dining out.

This aspect has brought to prominence yet another curious concept – cook-it-yourself restaurants. The concept is pretty self-explanatory – clients are responsible at least for some aspect of making their food. For example, the chef prepares and marinates meat while clients cook it according to their preferences on the grill by their table.

Cook it yourself restaurants are great because:

  • They give clients the chance to make meals according to their preferences
  • Differentiation from competitors is easy to achieve
  • They are a hybrid model – the chef could prepare the food or the client can go for it
  • Overhead costs are lower

While such restaurants do not offer a passive experience, there’s some risk involved in allowing people who aren’t professionals to prepare the meal. The concept should be fun, yet streamlined, allowing every visitor to engage and still enjoy a delicious meal.


Pet-Friendly Restaurant

This is another dining out trend that has been growing in popularity for some time already.

Pet-friendly venues aren’t just those that allow pups on the premises. The menu actually features great selections for both human and canine customers.

There are several reasons why pet-friendly restaurants enjoy a lot of popularity:

  • A niche clientele that can become very loyal
  • The concept allows for a fun restaurant environment
  • Excellent for cute and effective social media/viral marketing (including user-generated content)
  • Dog-friendly menus can maximize revenue generation potential

Opening up a pet-friendly restaurant is obviously heavily-dependent on choosing the right venue and having good awareness about the needs and the preferences of the respective demographic.


Multi-Concept Restaurant

If you can afford to rent a building that has several floors or a larger venue, you can open a multi-concept restaurant. The idea here is simple – each of the floors will offer a unique culinary experience.

Multi-concept restaurants are becoming trendy because:

  • Customers enjoy several choices and a lot of flexibility
  • You can increase the range of client demographics you can serve
  • It’s easy to experiment with different restaurant concepts
  • Special packages can be created, allowing clients to experience more than one menu in a single visit

The downside is the obvious larger investment you’ll have to make. In addition, you will need staff members that are capable of executing several culinary concepts rather than a niche menu.

These are just a few of the creative restaurant concepts that will give you a head start due to the differentiation you’ll achieve from the local competition. Obviously, you can explore multiple other ideas that are tailored to the needs of the local crowd – a restaurant and a co-working space, choosing unusual venues that can be transformed (how about a restaurant inside a prison?), no-menu dining, zero-waste restaurants or a focus on medicinal foods, are just a few alternative choices.