Lesson 8: Brick & Mortar

More than one restaurant owner ended up muttering “What was I thinking?” when they started a brick-and-mortar eatery. We’ll walk you through the process to reduce the chance you’ll have a similar epiphany down the road.



Brick & Mortar Restaurant

Setting the tone

The ambiance of your restaurant needs to be deliberate and align with your concept. Everything from the furnishings and art on the wall to the music playing overhead reinforces and builds on the experience your customers expect. As you build your restaurant out, make sure that you think about this. Is it a family-friendly place? A hangout for locals? A themed environment? Is it casual dining or a white table experience? Customers should instantly know what you’re all about, from the curbside to the restrooms and patio area out back.

Getting help

Starting a restaurant is a lot of work. There are things you’ll need to make decisions about that may not be in your sphere of expertise. Additionally, you may need to do some things to get your restaurant ready that aren’t in your skillset, such as getting the kitchen in such good working order that it passes inspection. Things break, pipes leak, equipment goes on the fritz, and the floor needs to be replaced. Recognize your own strengths and find others to tackle the things you’re not good at. Yes, it will probably cost you money – money you may not have – but it will free you up to move the restaurant to customer-ready more quickly.

Branding your restaurant

Your restaurant needs to reflect your concept. If you’ve been running a food booth or operating a food truck, your branding is probably pretty well established. You have settled on a logo, colors, type fonts, a specific tone and voice. This should all be reflected in your brick-and-mortar restaurant. You want to build on the color palette in the décor, menus, lighting, etc. You want people to instantly connect what they already know about you and your business with the new location. While you could start fresh, the question begs why you’d do that. Your customers know you; you’ve already spent much money on your brand. Why change now? Remember, too, that your brand is much more than pretty colors and a cute logo. It is the entire experience your customer has with you, from the time they first learned about you until the last time they pay their check. It is how they are greeted, how they are treated, the taste in their mouth as they leave and the feeling they got from frequenting your establishment.

    Protecting your intellectual property

    Your brand and recipes are all intellectual property. You want to make sure that you protect them properly. You may want to speak with an intellectual property attorney to make sure that you’re properly protected. Additionally, you want to make sure that your restaurant name and logo aren’t already protected under federal trademark/tradename laws. More than one new business has had to go to the expense of changing its name or logo because someone already had a federally approved and active trademark or trade name. This isn’t meant to discourage you, as two businesses can have the same name, as long as they are in different lines of business, and confusion would be minimal, if at all. Think Pandora. There’s Pandora, the music listening service, and Pandora, the jewelry company. But if you decide to name your restaurant Margaritaville, you’re asking for a lawsuit. 


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