Restaurant business plan: how can I best define my restaurant concept?

You’re thinking of opening a restaurant in Montreal and/or Quebec, and you’d like to put your business plan into action. Before you start writing your business plan, you’ll need to define your restaurant concept. At this stage, it’s very important to define your concept so that you can move forward with your business plan for your restaurant project.

This is really the first step in creating a business plan for your restaurant. A poorly defined concept is a recipe for wasting time on your business plan. On the contrary, a better-defined concept with a more precise guideline will enable you to make much faster progress on your restaurant business plan. It’s important to remember that defining your concept also means considering the restaurant sector you want to enter. There are several sub-sectors within the foodservice industry. So how do we define your concept of restaurants, let’s see immediately together.

Restaurant business plan: what market are you targeting?

Let’s ask ourselves the following questions;

  • Which restaurant sub-sector are you targeting?
  • does your concept address the gourmet food market?
  • do you prefer bistronomy?
  • are you more comfortable with the fast-food sector?
  • would you like to work in the café sector?

It’s very important that you work in a sector that you’ve chosen and that you like. As you can see, there are many different catering sectors. The other important question is whether you have the necessary skills to develop in your chosen sector. It’s vital that you take stock of your professional expertise so you know whether you need help or guidance in your chosen catering sector.

For example, running a café, a fast-food concept or a fast-casual concept requires a different management approach, and also involves management concepts specific to each concept. Each catering concept will have its own particularities. I could mention opening hours, product offering, type of associated services, food offering and more. If you don’t want to work evenings, it’s important to know this and to see if the restaurant concept you’ve chosen is the right one.

As you can see, this requires some thought before you even begin your business plan. Our goal is to define your restaurant concept so you can move forward with your business plan. You need to think about your concept and outline it here, to help you write your business plan. Because if the concept isn’t well defined, you’ll have a hard time moving forward with your restaurant business plan. An ill-defined concept and its guideline will cause you a great deal of difficulty in writing your future business plan.

How do you define your concept?

When defining your restaurant project, the second thing to think about is your concept. What’s your restaurant concept? What’s your vision for the layout? How will you welcome your customers? What are your opening hours? Will you have a grocery corner? Will you be offering a range of prepared meals? You need to ask yourself all these questions and more, in order to fully understand what your concept will be. How will you design your concept to make it more profitable?
We’re talking about the famous customer journey. Once the customer has entered your restaurant concept, how will you welcome them? Where’s it headed? What scenario have you put in place to stimulate the consumer experience? Will you have a grocery corner? All these questions are designed to help you move forward more quickly with your business plan. It’s an upstream reflection that you do to better define your catering concept. Take the time to do the work, and you’ll be a winner all round.

Restaurant business plan : What is your culinary theme?

Then, in the third phase of defining your concept, you’ll need to think about your culinary theme. This is another aspect of defining your restaurant concept that’s very important to consider. You’re going to give your culinary theme a guideline. In fact, the question is: what is your culinary theme?

So, at this point, depending on your professional experience, your cooking background, your origins and so on, you can decide that your culinary theme will focus, for example, on the production of local produce, a more oriental cuisine, a more vegetarian style, a range of prepared dishes, etc. Your culinary theme must be consistent both within and in the management of your future catering concept.

It’s really important. The culinary theme can also be linked to a country, a region, or traditional recipes. There’s no shortage of ideas in this field. This is the creative part of your restaurant project. It’s also important to know that your culinary theme is a very important communication axis in the marketing strategy you’re going to implement. I’d say that the more precise you are in your culinary theme, the more you’ll be recognized as a specialist in that theme.

On the other hand, the more general you are, the more you tend to blend in and be less recognized. Having a specific culinary theme is also a way of standing out from the competition in today’s market. It’s also about making yourself known to the general public through something people know little or nothing about. Communication is important in our business, so it’s vital that you make a difference, and that difference can be made with your culinary theme. Once again, think carefully about the culinary theme you’re going to market. You’ll be able to better describe it in your business plan later on and fine-tune your restaurant project.

Who are your future customers?

Another important point in defining your restaurant concept will be the choice of customer segments. You need to think about who your restaurant concept is aimed at. Who will you be offering your services to? This is an important factor, because as the saying goes, no customers, no business. You need to select between 3 and 4 customer segments. These customer segments can be selected according to :

  • their age,
  • a professional category,
  • on their consumption habits,
  • in relation to a place,
  • and other factors

Of course, your choice of customer segments must be in line with your concept.

It’s clear that you’ve given thought to ensuring that the services and food offering you’re going to market also meet the needs of your target customer segments. You need to be consistent with your restaurant concept, whether in terms of culinary themes, opening hours, types of services offered and more. For example, if your opening hours don’t correspond to your customers’ needs in terms of traffic, your concept won’t be effective. Because your opening hours can be tailored to specific communication and marketing objectives.

Certain opening hours can be the subject of promotional or loyalty offers to the customers you wish to target. Defining the customer segments you’re targeting will enable you to conduct more accurate market research for your business plan. It will provide you with useful information for analyzing your future customers, as well as for sales analysis and forecasting. It’s important to define between three and four customer segments, and not to have just one customer segment, because if this one were to fail the company for various possible reasons, such as the economic or health crisis we’ve experienced, the company would be in danger.


As you can see, it’s very important to define your concept in order to move forward with your business plan for your restaurant project.

This concludes the first part of defining your restaurant concept. In defining your restaurant concept, you’ll have to consider many aspects that you might not have considered important. The work you’re about to do will help you last longer.
In the next article, we’ll continue with the definition of your concept to help you prepare for the realization of your restaurant business plan.

Philippe Bertrand

Founder of the Quebec Restaurant Entrepreneurship Center

  • Master of Restaurant and Hospitality Management
  • Licence Rights-Economy-Management: Creating and taking over a restaurant

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Find out how to create a successful business plan for your restaurant. From concept to financial planning, this article guides you through each key step to maximize your chances of success.
In Part 2 of the Restaurant Business Plan article, discover the importance of positioning, varied services and location to your success.