Many months in the making, the new concept involved many behind-the-scenes processes and steps that must be done well in order to have a successful opening.
Here are the major steps to creating a new restaurant concept:
1. Concept. What are you trying to accomplish as a business? What type of food, feel, atmosphere, theme, and style do you want to put in front of the guests?
2. Menu. Does the food match the concept and the style of what you want the guest to experience? Since this is the product that you are selling, it is important to know what you are going to offer before making other desicions, such as equipment and service ware.
3. Equipment and Facility. Can you produce your concept and menu with equipment and facility on hand? Do you have the right equipment to produce the products that you want to sell? Does the dining room fit the style and motif of the concept you are going for? If not (as was our case) what do you need to do to get there, and how will you do it?
4. Planning for Capital Puchases. If you need to make improvements, as we did to our kitchens, then you have a whole new set of regulations and rules to follow. It is essential to have the right kitchen equipment to effectively produce the product. In our case, we did not have this, so we had to undergo a large remodel of our kitchen's main cooking line. Flow is very important to ensure efficiency in service. Fortunately, our culinary team was able to design a functional kitchen and select new pieces of equipment that made our kitchen much more smooth and workable. In some cases a design consultant can be brought in to help with spacial and equipment desicions.
5. Service Testing. It is never a good idea to sell a product you have never tried before, and the same goes with food. We spent months testing and retesting our recipes for quality and consistency. Also, testing allows us to figure out the most efficient way to produce the product in the quickest amount of time without diminishing the expected quaility of the product. It's important to do this so you don't end up sacrificing quality for faster times. If you launch without a well tested menu, things you may not have expected to be a problem may end up being one when you least expect it.
6. Getting Feedback. Feedback is one of the greatest tools in the foodservice industry. It's one of the only ways we know what the guest is looking for in their experience. We gathered a ton of feedback from our testing and adjusted accordingly based on the responses that we got from our test subjects. Getting ahead of potential guest complaints is a big help to make sure you are giving the guest an experience they will enjoy.
7. Opening. There are many more mini steps under all the umbrellas that I listed (I would have to write a book to go over them al!). However, the basic steps that I covered are the meat of what it takes to launch a new dining concept. We had a team effort on all fronts to accomplish our goal. We are currently open and "Biddle's" is serving A la carte lunch service 11:00 a.m. - 1:30 p.m. M-F.
Maybe we will have the pleasure of providing you with our great service in the near future. Stop by and see our new concept on the Westfield Insurance campus! Email reservations to Inndining@westfieldgrp.com.
Anthony Scolero is the sous chef at Westfield Center’s Blair Center, Country Club and cafeteria. He is in charge of scheduling, managing costs, developing menus, training kitchen employees, ordering, monitoring inventory and creating recipes. Anthony has 11 years in the hospitality industry and has developed his expertise in food preparations and cooking, kitchen operations and food safety.