A unique concept is an essential element to any food and beverage marketing plan and great leaders won't go further with their restaurant plans until they have that key element in place. While good food and service are, of course, important, an interesting restaurant concept can bring patrons to your door and cause them to choose your eatery over the hundreds of other establishments vying for their business. A unique concept can also help attract top team members to your restaurant. Employees like an enjoyable workplace where they can be around creativity.
If you're in the planning stages of your restaurant venture, you're likely mulling over several potential concept ideas. To help you in your decision-making process, we've put together a list of 12 one-of-a-kind restaurant ideas.
1. An undersea restaurant
Ithaa, on Rangali island in the Maldives, is the world's only undersea restaurant. The 14-seat, "half-dome" restaurant offers diners a 270-degree view of the Indian Ocean and is located 16 feet below the surface of the water. You enter the restaurant via a spiral staircase housed in a thatched, over-water hut connected to a glass tunnel. The six-course dinners at Ithaa price out at $400 per person and feature a set menu of seafood and contemporary European cuisine.
2. A restaurant at the foot of a waterfall
Labasin Waterfalls Restaurant at Villa Escudero, located in San Pablo, Philippines, gives diners the experience of having a meal at the foot of a waterfall with their feet and calves immersed in the water. Located on the site of a former sugar plantation, Labasin Waterfalls Restaurant serves a traditional Filipino buffet lunch at picnic-style tables while diners enjoy the cool spray of the waterfall. (Note: For safety reasons, this restaurant is only open when the weather is sunny and calm.)
3. A restaurant that cooks meals over an active volcano
One of the most exotic restaurants in the world, El Diablo (The Devil) Restaurant in Las Palmas, Spain, cooks its meals over an active volcanic hole in the ground. Don't worry, though, the volcano may still be hot, but it hasn't erupted since 1824. The panoramic windows give diners 360-degree views of the rugged mountain terrain surrounding the restaurant. The menu is simple, featuring grilled chicken, fish and beef.
4. A restaurant atop a glacier
At the Alyeska Resort in Alaska, diners are whisked to the Seven Glaciers atop a glacier on Mount Alyeska via a 2,300-foot aerial tram. The tram ride is free with advance reservations and riders are treated to views of the Town of Girdwood as well as the silvery waters of Turnagain Arm and the dramatic Chugach Mountain peaks. The menu favors locally sourced meat, seafood and produce. Specialties include the scallop bisque, served with a dab of smoked salmon, and the Baked Alyeska dessert—a caramel nougat, Bavarian chocolate cake with dark chocolate ganache and Swiss meringue.
5. A restaurant carved into a grotto
Located along the southeast coast of Italy near Bari, Grotta Palazzese is a one-of-a-kind eatery. This restaurant is situated in a limestone cave about 50 feet above the water's edge. The cave is lit with gas lanterns and candles, making it very romantic. Guests have the option of dining at the edge of the cave with a water view or deep within the grotto. The menu favors locally sourced seafood.
6. A restaurant located in a wine vault
At the Catacombs Restaurant in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, diners sit at tables surrounded by stone-lined vaults 43-feet underneath the restaurant's sister brewery. Before they descend to the catacombs, diners are taken by a costumed guide throughout the brewery. They also have the option of a ghost tour. The restaurant seats just 20 people, so reservations are a must. The menu features a good selection of traditional meat and seafood entrees.
7. A bar in a former speakeasy
Located in Halifax, Canada, Noble is a secret bar inside a former 1930s-era speakeasy. You have to know the password to be directed to this part of the establishment. If you answer correctly, you're escorted down a spiral staircase and a narrow hallway to a metal door. When your guide throws open the latch and opens the door, you're transported back to the 1920s and 1930s, with period music and floor-to-ceiling bookcases filled with books of the era. The password changes frequently, but you can find clues on the bar's sister restaurant's website, themiddlespoon.com. Want to know if Noble is open? Look for the green cactus in the window.
8. A restaurant in a treehouse
The Redwoods Treehouse Restaurant, located in Warkworth, New Zealand, at the tips of the North Island, is a 30-person restaurant inside a treehouse. The dining room is situated 32 feet above the ground, offering spectacular views of redwood forest. You enter the restaurant via an elevated tree-top walkway. Built in 2008 as part of a "Yellow Pages" marketing campaign, the singular restaurant has been featured on "The Great Food Race" television show. Currently, the Redwoods Treehouse is used exclusively for private parties and events.
9. A restaurant in tepee
One of the restaurants at the Amangani Resort in the scenic National Elk Refuge near Jackson Hole, Wyoming, is located in a traditional-style tepee. Diners can savor the beautiful view of the Tetons and the Snake River before settling into their tepee for a dinner of free-range buffalo, prime ribs and salmon.
10. A circus-themed restaurant
Circus, in London, England, combines Pan-Asian cuisine with live circus performances. The restaurant, in the city's Covent Garden neighborhood, features aerialists, contortionists, hand balancers, fire-breathers and hula-hoopers that perform among the tables during dinner. Circus offers a variety of tasting menus, including vegan.
11. A fishing restaurant
At Zauo Fishing Restaurant in Tokyo, diners catch their own fish in the restaurant's stocked ponds. You can rent your fishing equipment or bring your own. After you've caught your fish, the restaurant's staff will cook it for you and serve it at your table. If fishing isn't your passion, you can just point to the fish you want, and the staff will get it out of the pond for you. Fish include red snapper, mackerel, ball fish and sea mackerel.
12. An ice cream parlor made of ice
In Kemi, Finland, you can have an ice cream cone or dish in a restaurant made of ice, complete with ice tables and ice sculpture. The stools are made of wood with fur coverings, so you don't get too cold, even though the temperature is kept at a constant -5 degrees Celsius. Luna Linna Castle, part of the chic ice hotel, is rebuilt and designed from scratch every year when the cold weather season begins. Don't worry if you didn't bring your fur coat, the restaurant will provide warm clothing for diners.
What Education and Training Do You Need to Open a Restaurant?
While no specific degree or education course is required to get the business license for your restaurant, your odds of success will increase dramatically with guidance and a better understanding of the food and beverage industry before you open your doors. A good leader and restaurant manager needs to wear a number of hats—a gracious host to restaurant patrons, a good communicator (and leader) to vendors and employees, a collaborative boss delegating responsibility to staff and a shrewd business person to help the restaurant make a profit and stay afloat.
Johnson &Wales University offers a Bachelor of Science in Food and Beverage Entrepreneurship. It’s a great way to learn the basics of restaurant ownership. This two-year degree program (for students who already have an associate degree) features courses in business planning, management strategies and marketing, all as they apply to the food and beverage industry. Best of all, the degree program can be completed entirely via online classes.
Do you have a unique idea for a restaurant concept? Pursue the education you need to open your restaurant when you earn a bachelor’s degree in food & beverage entrepreneurship from JWU. For more information, complete the Request Info form, call 855-JWU-1881, or email [email protected].