I am making this series to help those who are trying to answer these questions and need some inspiration.
The theme is the heart of your restaurant, and without it, you have no direction or place to base your menu from!
2. The Essay
West of the Sea
The theme of my restaurant is going to be a European/Asian fusion of pastries and high-quality teas and coffees catering to a mid-morning/brunch crowd. The theme was originally inspired by the ever-growing popularity of Asian specialty restaurants in the United States and the steady business that most true European-style restaurants enjoy, especially on the East and West Coast. As such, the price range of the restaurant would be moderate, catering to primarily middle and upper-class patrons.
The optimal location for this concept would be any coastal area with good sea views, with a historic port such as San Francisco, New York, or even Miami.
Preferably this restaurant would be in any building with decent sea-views and a small parcel of land around it. The dining space would sit 50 people, with a row against the large windows, a central row consisting of tables for larger parties, and another row along the wall shared with the kitchen, with a possible patio area on a terrace slightly below the window area, with extra seating. The ambiance of this restaurant should radiate safety and warmth, with wooden floors done in a dark stain, with custom-made tables and chairs not dissimilar to those used in well-to-do Japanese homes.
The purpose of this restaurant is to give the patrons the feeling they are in a place where time flows differently than outside, that it's OK to take your time and fully wake up before facing the day, as well as being a place people can come to talk and study in peace. The restaurant should have a mystique to it, something that feels forgotten in today’s high-speed world, that it should be preserved for future generations.
The mission statement of West of The Sea is “To create a safe, serene space where people can enjoy fine pastries and high-quality teas in peace.”
The restaurant should be a place where regulars come to hang out and shoot the breeze, yet still feel open to newcomers who have never been there before. A sign of a good restaurant should be that people feel free to take their time there, and also not be rushed out of their table by staff who just are working for the tips, no matter if you are selling burritos in a stainless steel Quonset hut or filet mignon in a mini-mansion bedecked in gold, silver, and fine china, the customer should always feel at home at your restaurant, because restaurants like those are the ones most talked about by those who remember the atmosphere and the people who served them.
3. What's with all the essay?
This later became the heart of my capstone, and in it, I got to vegetate for a little bit on the kind of place I wanted to build.
Sitting down and finding what kind of place you are ready to devote yourself to is an important decision, so make it carefully, but make sure you also go with your heart!
Don't forget a mission statement! It might seem stupid now, but you're going need something to put as a guideline into the employee's heads. Think of it as an expression of all you want from the restaurant and staff in a sentence or two.
In creating a restaurant you are trying to leave a mark on the world. This mark isn't something huge, like the Eiffel Tower, or awe-inspiring like the Holy Grail, but in its own way, it's just as important. You are creating a memory, a connection made of food between you and every customer you ever have walked through those doors. The mark of a great chef is to be remembered long after you are gone for the joy you bring to others.