Deciding on the perfect restaurant theme is no small task. It takes a careful blend of creativity, planning, and insight into the market where you intend to open your business.
There are countless restaurant themes to choose from; whatever you decide to go with will be unique to you, your business, and your clientele.
While diners do cite ambiance as an important element of their dining experience, it’s not everything. Cool lighting fixtures and intricate murals won’t make up for excessive noise, poor service, or low quality food.
Here are four real examples of restaurants with distinct themes, accompanied by real online reviews of their businesses.
1. Bohemian With An Edge
A bohemian-themed restaurant is a great way to take your guests back in time, or transport them to parts unknown around the world.
Beatnik, located in Chicago, is designed to resemble the Bohemian lifestyle of 1950’s America and Europe. They incorporate exotic music, lush enteriors, and elements of old world elegance to bring guests back to the time of Kerouac and Ginsberg.
What Their Customers Say
Alka Maheshwari, a Google local guide, writes “A beautiful place in West Town. The decor alone is worth the visit: ornately carved wooden panels to the opulent chandeliers to the checkerboard floor. Multiple small plates and sides on the menu making it easier to order a variety of dishes. All three sections of the establishment have their own charm.”
Hunter G, another Google local guide, has a different opinion on the vibe. Accompanying his two star review, he writes, “Horrible hostess staff. Requested a nice table because it was a special event in the reservation. She sat us at a high top in the bar area. Inside is really artsy and the atmosphere is awesome.”
What Can We Learn From Beatnik?
Beatnik’s bohemian vibe is counter-culture coolness, but an experience with poor service is always sure to ruin a night out.
2. Locally Sourced
Incorporating your values into your restaurant's theme can be a great way to connect with customers on a deeper level.
The Marshal, in New York City, is a great example of a locally-sourced, sustainability-focused restaurant that has oriented their entire business operations to reflect their values. By emphasizing the importance of locally-sourced ingredients, The Marshal sends a message to customers that they support their community, value local small businesses, and want to protect the health of the environment and their customers. They source all of their menu items from local farmers, local wineries, and local distilleries to reduce carbon emissions when shipping.
What Their Customers Say
Noah Choi writes, “Quite possibly the best burger I have ever had: smoky flavor, very juicy, and with a bun that was literally oven-fresh.”
Bob Kirksey, a Google local guide, writes, “Farm to table at its finest. I travel 230 days a year. Good health makes my living. Food quality and tremendous flavor are what I seek.”
Susan Rosenthal, another Google local guide, writes, “A delicious gem of Farm to Table scrumptiousness.”
What Can We Learn From The Marshal?
Supporting your local community is always a great restaurant theme and business practice. No Farms, No Food, after all.
3. Keep It Simple
Centering your restaurant theme around one food item is a simple and effective branding tactic. It’s also a great way to generate repeat business with customers who will view you as their “go-to” for that specific product.
At Bang Bang Pie & Biscuits in Chicago, the name says it all; pies and biscuits are their game.
What Their Customers Say
Matthew Martin, a Google local guide, writes, “The Key Lime was probably the best I’ve ever had!”
Another reviewer's experience was a bit of a mixed bag. They write, “Food was good, not great. The biscuits were the best I’ve had at any restaurant period. Servings are terribly undersized, flavor was good.”
What Can We Learn From Bang Bang Pie & Biscuits?
Keeping your theme and menu simple can be a successful strategy, but it’s nothing if the quality of your product is so-so.
4. Vintage Upscale
If you want to incorporate some upscale flair in your restaurant theme, attention to detail is key.
Invest in some fancy bells and whistles to make your customers feel utterly aristocratic.
El Gaucho and AQUA by El Gaucho, both in Seattle, have a taste for the finer things. In addition to jazz on the piano and top-of-the-line service, this upscale restaurant serves a 28-day dry-aged steak and has a classy tuxedo staff.
What Their Customers Say
Jeanie writes, “The food and the view were amazing. The service was awful. We were there to celebrate our anniversary and our-less-than-attentive waiter didn’t add to the experience. Maybe they don’t care since their tip is already included in your bill.”
Here’s how El Gaucho responded: “Thank you for taking the time to review AQUA, Jeanie. While we are happy to hear you enjoyed the views and food we are terribly sorry to hear that you experienced sub par service. We strive to create an all-around memorable visit and we apologize we were wide of the mark in this regard.”
Jonji, another Facebook reviewer, writes, “Not my first rodeo here, and I must say service and food are always top notch!”
El Gaucho’s response: “Glad to hear it Jonji. Hope to see you again soon!”
What Can We Learn From El Gaucho?
Customer relationship management is essential to the success of your business. Responding to both positive and negative reviews, like El Gaucho does, is an easy way to show existing and potential customers alike and that you value their input, and their business.
If You Only Take One Thing Away From This Article...
Creating a phenomenal experience for your guests is so much more than just having a really cool restaurant theme. Didn't your mom teach you to never judge a book by its cover?
Your goal should be to have every guest walk away with great memories they’ll cherish and forever associate with your business.
Want your restaurant’s Instagram to stand out from all the others?
Follow these easy tips & tricks to make your feed shine!
- Get That Angle
- Light Is Key
- Tell A Story
- Background Check
- Get Creative
- Add Ons
- Engage Followers
The key to a great shot is getting the right angle. Try a variety of angles, & different vantage points to see which one suits your dish best. Always keep it interesting.
The right lighting will either make or break your shot. Natural lighting is always best, but have fun playing with lighting until you get a shot you like. Avoid random shadows which can be distracting & unprofessional.
A photo is worth a thousand words & photography is all about telling a story. Play with the set up of the shot (i.e. how do you fill the frame, what’s around the plate or table setting, what are the ingredients in the dish?
The subject should be the main focus not the background. Select something that complements the tones & colors of your food, and matches the style of your product/brand.
Think outside of the box & keep your followers interested. Play with locations, close-ups, & even video!
Take your feed to the next level with other photo applications to collage, create memes, double exposures etc. The ap store is your oyster!
The best way to build your brand is to engage your customer. Encourage followers to snap food pics & tag your account. Create photo competitions, hashtags, & share behind the scenes content. It will make your customers feel extra special, increase followers & most importantly it’s FREE advertising for you.
As the days grow a bit longer and the weather a bit warmer, it is a great time to lure your customers out of hibernation with some fresh changes that reflect the transition into spring. At the bar, start with your cocktail menu by changing up your flavor enhancers that will set you apart with drinks that are as fresh as the new season. Try new mixes with Mezcal, cucumbers, orgeat, fresh fruit, honey, and peat for cocktails that are like a bouquet of spring flowers. And while you are at, try getting some new and interesting versions of classic glassware. Think of this as dressing up for in the new fashions of the season. And don’t forget how simple it is to let spring in by just putting vases of blooming flowers on the tables. Your customers will definitely notice and feel inspired. With spring and inspiration, also comes the desire for most people to start gravitating towards a healthier lifestyle. Customers will embrace having less rich, heavy, comfort food and be delighted to find light, healthy dishes filled with vegetables. This may be a great time to connect with local farmers about collaborating to provide local, farm fresh seasonal dishes. You don’t have to overhaul your whole menu, featuring dishes that are vegetable heavy or adding one new feature will go a long way. Bringing the garden into your restaurant doesn’t have to stop at vegetables, a great way to make it an early spring is to elegantly garnish cocktails, main dishes, and desserts with beautiful edible flowers such as marigolds, orchids, violets. As you are sneaking these spring touches into your restaurant, go ahead and let everyone know about! Now is a great time to create special events such as “Spring Fever Happy Hours” or “Garden Fresh Lunches” to get your customers excited. And while the spring holidays don’t have the large group and marketing buzz of the holiday season, Easter and Mother’s Day are wonderful holidays to plan special prix fix dinners and brunches around. Spring evokes newness, light, happiness, and freshness so play with those in your marketing and concepts and take advantage of that imagery to create unique and fun marketing to get customers new and old to warm up to you and the warmer sunshine.
Pictured: brunch at Avert Brasserie
It's Mother's Day - the perfect day for brunch. Fun, relaxed, and usually involving an adult beverage (or two!) brunch is a Sunday favorite. Here are some tips on creating the perfect spread:
For a buffet style brunch: fresh and simple is best! A raw bar, like the one pictured above, is a really lovely touch, but make sure you have the proper ice and refresh the spread often to keep things fresh and cold. Including an assortment of jams, jellies, and spreads to go with your pastries is also a nice touch. Another buffet tip - a Bloody Mary bar is a fun and interactive talking point to anchor your brunch spread!
For a full menu brunch: a variety of choices is best to please your guests. Choose some sweet, some savory, and some traditional lunch items (sandwiches, cheeseburgers, etc) to make sure everyone can get what they want! Eggs benedict is an easy favorite and can be dressed up with a variety of proteins from ham to duck breast. Don't forget to keep some items vegetarian/gluten free as brunch can be heavy on the carbs and bacon for those with dietary restrictions. And finally, add sides! Fun to share (and an easy upset for the servers) some small, shareable plates such as a grapefruit brûlée or fried brussels sprouts will elevate your brunch game.
For the drinks: Mimosas are classic, but why stop there? Classic champagne cocktails can be fun and innovative. Bloody marys can be extreme when they are loaded with different ingredients. Particularly for Italian restaurants, don't forget a selection of classic, seasonal bellinis utilizing different fruit purees. Finally, offer some non-alcoholic beverage options: classic cappucinos and fresh pressed juices are easy, classic crowd pleasers.