Staying True to Concept is Harder Than it Looks

Tim Doolittle

All restaurants, all businesses for that matter, start with an idea.  Sometimes good, sometimes bad, but generally in the hospitality industry a passionate spark is the genesis. The ‘big bang’ that follows can be a universe that is exciting, frightening, fun, and confusing all at once.  Often the best and easiest path back to tranquility and clear thinking is returning to those early first moments of inspiration and simplicity. In the developmental stages of a restaurant there are usually very few people involved.  Maybe it is a chef and partner, or perhaps a family, often it is a few executives at a conference table (and this is before any guest fills out a comment card or doubt creeps up in post-opening operations). But as the idea becomes a reality it is inevitably and infinitely larger by nature and that original core group becomes a populous.  Suddenly there are lawyers, real estate agents, accountants, consultants, friends, family, foodies, and colleagues adding their opinion to the primordial stew that is bubbling into an actual business.  I truly believe that these opinions should be considered, especially those of the paid experts that are invited into the mix.  The difficult thing can become sorting through all this input and understanding what adds to the original concept, and what detracts from it.  Here are some points to consider as the concept evolves.


-Does a given point of view fit the concept?

-Does the concept fit the targeted population?

-Can I see the logic in a given proposed idea?

-Are well informed opinions as important as passionate ones?

-Who can help me refine my concept?

-Will I be happy with the final incarnation?

-How do I want the community to perceive the business?

-Is my vision for the business marketable, viable, and sustainable?

-Who is best suited to edit the vision(s)?

-How do I refocus my business if it loses its identity?

-How do I know when to reconsider a concept and allow it evolve?


There is no universal answers to the complex questions posed above, each depends greatly on the context of the individual situation.  Sometimes clarity can come from simply asking the question, answers become obvious, and the clouds lift without much effort.  Other times, questions linger and remain a mystery until “end of times” become more of a reality than the original concept ever was.



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