Designing a Resilient Restaurant Concept

08/29/16 at 03:55 PM

In the world of restaurant growth and profitability, well managed concepts are always looking for ways to be innovative with menu options, price points, design and technology.  No matter how innovative the architectural design of the concept is, the recipe for success contains a lot of ingredients that must balance out.  Multi-Unit concepts are no different from independents in this respect.  In many ways multi-unit, publically owned concepts, have more challenges keeping relevant.  Navigating a bigger ship through varied geographical waters can be more complex and more difficult during down-cycles in the restaurant market.  Keeping what works, yet re-tooling aspects of the concept to compete for a piece of the food retail pie is a delicate balance of self-analysis, clear vision and innovative investment.
Some on Wall Street see a market down-turn possible in the upcoming quarters for national multi-unit restaurants.  Lots of supply, Millennial preferred cutting edge independent eateries and shrinking margins due to higher labor cost contribute to these cautionary forecasts.  But all may not be what Wall Street sees as negatives in the restaurant industry.  With fuel prices low, consumers can divert more dollars to send food to their stomachs instead of gas to their tanks.  And concepts that take advantage of mobile technologies are better positioned to weather a down-turn and remain relevant to an increasingly techno-savvy consumer.
Those that have differentiated their brand and have the foresight to see trends early fare better in surviving economic dips.  Two of Aria Group’s clients (Panera Bread & Dave and Busters) are mentioned in a recent article in Forbs. Maggie McGrath talks more about this issue in her article “Restaurant Recession? Maybe not if you’re Panera, Sonic Or Starbucks”.