Dining isn’t just about the food. Food is a significant part of it, of course, but it’s also about a host of other things: the visuals, the sensations, the whole experience of dining.
And there are infinite ways that you can craft experience. The taste of great food will only last for so long, but an outstanding dining experience can be unforgettable.
So how is an aspiring restaurateur supposed to create a great experience? In this article, we will discuss 11 restaurant ideas that you can take inspiration from when creating your concept.
Table of Contents
Table of Contents
1. Underwater Restaurants
5.8 Undersea Restaurant © Savour BlackBookAsia
If you’ve always been a fan of the deep blue, you’ll certainly love the concept behind the 5.8 Undersea Restaurant in Hurawalhi, Maldives. It’s a place where–you guessed it–customers can dine exactly 5.8 meters deep into the sea.
This is certainly not something you do every day. However, the novelty and the slightly terrifying experience of having dinner while surrounded by the untamable wildness of the ocean make the 5.8 Undersea Restaurant a place to remember, indeed.
2. Pop-Up Restaurants
A pop-up restaurant is generally a good strategy if you can pull it off properly. Not only can you begin business immediately without the expensive investment of a brick-and-mortar building, but you also get to test the market conditions of the area while introducing yourself to potential customers living nearby.
From the customer’s side of things, a pop-up restaurant can also be quite an experience on its own. There’s something about its temporariness that makes an excellent pop-up seem more intimate and memorable. One successful example is Eventide Oyster Co.’s pop-ups.
3. Palate-Focused Restaurants
Ichiran © qz.com
If you feel like your food has a flavor that deserves the customer’s full attention, then take inspiration from New York City’s Ichiran and enforce that attention with an iron fist of the law.
At Ichiran, all kinds of social interaction are forbidden. Customers are seated in one-person “flavor concentration booths” to prevent them from speaking to the person beside them. Orders are wordlessly done through forms, while refills can be requested by pressing a button. According to the founders, this allows diners to focus entirely on the eating experience.
4. Eco-Friendly Restaurants
Soneva Kiri Resort © extravaganzi.com
From the wildness of the deep blue and now to the serenity of the forest, nature is certainly one of the best places to take restaurant ideas from. And when it comes to fresh concepts, the intimate hanging cafe-resto dining pods of the Soneva Kiri Resort in the Ko Kut District of Thailand are certainly a good example.
First, it’s undeniable how unique and memorable the experience of eating while suspended atop tall trees is. Second, the pods make full use of the untouched wilderness by giving diners a bird’s eye view of the area. And third, since they’re a non-destructive way of incorporating nature into the resto business, they also allow the resort to stay true to its eco-friendly brand.
5. Partnerships With Local Breweries
Whether it’s for positive branding, supporting local goods, or creating incredible food and beverage combos, partnering with a local brewery can only be a win-win for both sides. Oath Craft Pizza of Boston sets an excellent example by partnering with Night Shift Brewing in Massachusetts.
It’s not just pizza and beer, too. If your restaurant needs fresh vegetables and other supplies, you can quickly negotiate a partnership with local farmers or other producers. With this, not only will you have a local-friendly brand that will endear you to the city, but you will also have all the fresh ingredients you need to create the best dishes. Finally, if you have a public and positive partnership, both of you will also have the chance to increase your customer base.
6. Pet-Friendly Restaurants
Brooklyn Cat Cafe © inhabitat.com
What more needs to be said? Most people love either cats or dogs – or both. Featuring them in your restaurant, like what the Brooklyn Cat Cafe successfully did, can endear your restaurant to the hearts of many and instantly make it a favorite hang-out spot.
More than that, you will likely be doing rescue cats a lot of favor by providing them a home and even a potential place to meet fur parents who can bring them to their fur-ever homes. Just be sure you fill out all the legalities and follow the law to the letter, and you have a solid idea pawing at you.
7. Restaurants In The Dark
While New York’s Ichiran wants you to focus on your food by depriving you of social interaction and sitting you in one-person booths, Toronto’s O.Noir goes even further by serving your meals in total darkness. Anything light-producing, glittery, or shiny is not allowed in the establishment at all.
You may have heard that losing one of your senses will enhance the others to compensate, and that’s exactly what O.Noir is going for. Without your sight, you’re forced to rely on your other senses for the experience, giving you a heightened sensory experience.
And have we already mentioned that all the wait staff in O.Noir are blind or visually impaired? Not only are they sticking to the theme, but they’re also using their concept to provide disadvantaged people a better chance in life.
8. A Restaurant In Memory Of
How about making a restaurant a tribute to a person? A great example of this is Poe’s Pantry and Pub, which you can find in Richmond, Virginia. As you can probably tell by the name, it’s a tribute to the legendary poet and writer Edgar Allan Poe.
It doesn’t even have to be a person. You can make a tribute restaurant for a historical moment, an unforgettable event, or even just a personal memory that impacted your life in one way or another. Great tribute restaurants are not distinguished by their concepts but by the story behind them.
9. Restaurants With A View
Tongabezi Lodge © blacktomato.com
If you’ve got a fantastic view that you want to share with the world, then you should build your restaurant around it.
The Tongabezi Lodge in Zambia is an excellent example of this. The whole dining area juts out of the Zambezi River and gives a clear, unobstructed view of the horizon. In the afternoon, the spot captures a striking Zambian sunset that will certainly touch any diner’s soul.
10. Restaurants That Are One With The View
Guests of the Villa Escudero’s Labassin Waterfall Restaurant located in San Pablo, Philippines, know what it feels like to be part of the view.
In their restaurant, diners are seated on wooden tables and chairs located on the very base of the artificial Labassin Waterfall. Submerged in 12 inches of deep cascading water, customers can relax and be at one with nature even as they enjoy fantastic service and great food.
More than a clever idea, this is a study of what it means to use your natural environment to your advantage. You don’t have to do anything fancy to be unique and distinctive.
Do you live someplace with minimal light pollution? Then perhaps a completely outdoor restaurant with a backdrop of the clear, starlit night sky would be an excellent idea. Are you near a river? A floating restaurant sounds good.
11. Restaurants With A Cause
If there’s a belief, an idea, or a stand that you feel very strongly about, then maybe you could attach it to your restaurant. A mission is a great way to set your restaurant apart from the rest and help it contribute positively to social issues.
One great example of this is the fast-food chain Leon, which seeks to redefine the term “fast food.” It does this by making its entire operation eco-friendly, something that isn’t common in the industry. With this mission taken to heart, Leon uses only sustainable energy to power its physical stores and uses compostable packaging and locally sourced produce as much as possible.
Taking Inspiration From Unique Restaurant Ideas
Your restaurant’s concept is one of the essential aspects of your business. Not only will it set your restaurant apart from the competition, but it will also serve as your purpose – your guiding principle in every decision you make going forward.
In this article, we’ve discussed 11 unique ideas from successful restaurants that you can use for inspiration. We hope this will motivate you to combine ideas, pick them apart, or create something new entirely. Remember, the world is awaiting your next big thing!