From Fine Dining to Food Trucks: 12 Restaurant Concepts to Understand

From Fine Dining to Food Trucks: 12 Restaurant Concepts to Understand
Discover 12 essential restaurant concepts to help guide aspiring restaurateurs in building a successful business.
by Square Feb 03, 2023 — 8 min read
From Fine Dining to Food Trucks: 12 Restaurant Concepts to Understand

From FSRs, to QSRs, ghost kitchens, to delivery or dine in only. There are many different restaurant models in Australia. If you are an aspiring restaurateur or are interested in learning more about each one — here’s the 101.

1. Fast-food or quick-service restaurants (QSRs)

Known for being quick, convenient and (mostly) tasty, fast-food restaurants are very popular in Australia. Customers may have the option to eat in and the food is packaged to make it easy to take away and eat on-the-go. Think burgers, pizzas or kebabs.

What are the benefits of opening a fast-food restaurant?

The ability to prep items on the menu ahead of time using a bulk number of ingredients means that fast-food restaurants can operate at a fast pace and high turnover rate, which can help bolster profit margins for a successful QSR.

Tips for running a fast-food restaurant

It’s Important that a fast-food restaurant is just that – fast. Keep your quick-moving operation running smoothly and efficiently with a Square Kitchen Display System and fulfil your orders accurately every time.

2. Food trucks

Food trucks are mobile eateries that specialise in one type of cuisine. Customers order and pick their food up from the truck to eat. Food trucks are often located in areas with high foot traffic – outside a busy office block or at a music festival for example.

What are the benefits of running a food truck?

Food trucks have lower start-up and operating costs than other types of eateries. You won’t have to pay rent or buy a space, and as you’re operating from a compact space, you will need far fewer employees than you would in a traditional restaurant.

Plus, if you’re in a location that isn’t getting much traffic you can find a new spot!

Tips for running a food truck

As you’re working from a limited space, it’s important to stay on top of your stock. Afterall, you don’t want to run out of ingredients halfway through the lunchtime rush. Square Point of Sale includes free Inventory Management, so you can track your stock in real-time and even get custom alerts if a particular item is running low.

3. Fast-casual restaurants

Fast-casual restaurants combine the speed of a fast food eatery with a simple menu. They offer customisable and build-your-own options, whether that’s a sandwich, a burrito or a salad bowl. If you’re in Australia make sure to check out Fishbowl.

Similar to fast-food restaurants, customers order at a counter and can choose to either eat in or take away.

What are the benefits of running a fast-casual restaurant?

Fast-casual restaurants are cheaper and easier to staff than other types of restaurants. One reason for this is that much of the food preparation can be done in advance, reducing the number of employees you’ll need to have working in the kitchen at one time.

They’re also quite predictable in terms of when they’ll be at their busiest and when they’ll be at their quietest. Most customers will come in during the lunch rush, so you’ll be able to staff accordingly. And the money you save on labour costs can be dedicated to other things such as ingredients, advertising or new decor.

Tips for running a fast-casual restaurant

Give your diners an even speedier experience by offering self-serve ordering with QR codes.

4. Ghost kitchens

They aren’t as spooky as they sound. A ghost restaurant is an establishment that doesn’t have a storefront. Customers can call or order online and have the food delivered straight to their door.

What are the benefits of running a ghost kitchen?

With a ghost kitchen, everything’s virtual – so you can cut many of the usual costs associated with running a restaurant, such as rent or mortgage payments for your restaurant space. As ghost kitchens are delivery only, you also won’t need to employ wait staff.

Tips for running a ghost kitchen

Your first step in getting set up to run a ghost kitchen is finding a place to prepare your orders. This space will be cheaper than renting a restaurant, but will still need to have the appropriate commercial kitchen equipment.

Next, you can launch your ghost restaurant online across your own website and as many delivery apps as you like. With Square for Restaurants, all of your orders will display on one dashboard, whether they’re from your Square Online website or third-party delivery partners.

5. Family-style restaurants

At a family-style restaurant, food is brought to the table all at once for the whole table to help themselves to, rather than being individually plated up. They generally have a relaxed, informal atmosphere and a moderately priced menu, and often attract families with children or large groups of friends.

What are the benefits of running a family-style restaurant?

Family-style dining allows customers to try a range of dishes in one meal, and gives your chefs more chances to impress each diner.

Tips for running a family-style restaurant

When you’re designing your menu, make sure your dishes are easy to share. You could also try offering different size options for each item, such as an option for two people, an option for four people and so on.

6. Cafes

A cafe, or a coffee shop traditionally focuses on coffee and other beverages. Although, these days they often provide meals and smaller bites to eat, such as pastries, sandwiches and cakes.

What are the benefits of running a cafe?

Cafes can have a higher profit margin than more food-based establishments. It’s up to you to customise your offering to suit your location and clientele. Check out our 101 guide to opening a cafe for more information.

Tips for running a cafe

Create a loyalty program. to reward your regulars. Who doesn’t love free coffee?

Square Loyalty allows you to reward existing customers directly through your Point of Sale or your website’s checkout.

7. Pubs

Pubs serve alcoholic drinks alongside food. Some focus solely on the beverages and others on the food. For instance, some pubs limit their food options to small bar snacks while others offer full meals and multiple courses. Customers typically have the option of ordering at the bar or waiting for table service, although some pubs may also offer QR code ordering.

What are the benefits of running a pub?

Profit margins are high on alcohol and, as a hub of local activity, running a pub will likely create the opportunity to meet a wide range of people – including potential investors and future business partners.

Tips for running a pub

Make sure you get the right licence for selling alcohol at your pub, as well as any other permits you need to operate. In Australia, the classification system and requirements for the type of license you need will vary according to the state your business is based in, so you’ll need to check your local authority’s website to get the exact details.

As a general rule, the type of licence required to sell booze depends on a few things, including whether your alcohol will be available for takeaway or to drink on the premises only, if you’re offering food and if you have gaming machines.

Pubs are fast-paced environments, so it’s worth investing in an integrated point-of-sale system that’s specifically designed for your bar. Square POS lets you manage menus, add modifiers, open tabs and split bills – all from one dashboard.

8. Pop-up restaurants

Pop-up restaurants are temporary establishments that can be set up pretty much anywhere – they could appear in a totally unique location or within an existing restaurant or bar.

What are the benefits of running a pop-up restaurant?

Due to pop-ups being temporary, they usually have lower running costs than a regular restaurant. You’ll probably only have to pay short-term rent and your equipment may be rented instead of purchased. Their temporary nature also allows you to test out different locations before committing to signing a lease.

For chefs, pop-ups can be an exciting option as it gives them the freedom to experiment with different dishes and test out new concepts before opening a new restaurant.

Tips for running a pop-up restaurant

An effective promotional strategy is a key to a pop-up’s success as you only have a limited amount of time to establish your presence and create a buzz. Your marketing tactics could include: creating a strong social media presence, handing out flyers around your local neighbourhood, sending out marketing emails to draw in your clientele and speaking to reporters and influencers to get press coverage.

9. Buffet restaurants

The main characteristic separating all-you-can-eat buffets from most other types of restaurants is the self-service arrangement. Rather than selecting made-to-order dishes, guests help themselves to pre-made food at self-serve stations. Food is pre-prepared in large quantities and left out for customers to help themselves.

What are the benefits of running a buffet restaurant?

While it’s true that buffets often operate on a very thin profit margin because of the sheer quantity of food they give out, the fact that they’re self-service means that you can keep staff numbers to an absolute minimum – making a big saving on wage costs. You can also make your buffet even more cost-effective by rotating the food on offer depending on your stock levels.

Tips for running a buffet restaurant

Use Inventory Management Software to help you design your daily dishes and stay on top of stock levels. You can even receive daily stock alert emails detailing items that are low or out, so you always know what you have in stock.

##Full-service restaurants (FSRs)

Full-service restaurants, or FSRs, are characterised by providing table service. Wait staff seat the customer, take their order, deliver their plated-up food and clear away the food and bring the bill when they’ve finished.

FSRs cover a wide variety of price ranges, from fine dining to more casual eateries – we’ve run through four popular types below.

What are the benefits of running an FSR?

As they’re offering clients a full service, FSRs tend to have higher prices than some other types of restaurants – this means that they have potential to reap a better profit than more casual eateries.

Tips for running an FSR

Make sure your establishment is all kitted out with an efficient Point of Sale system and Kitchen Display System, to keep everything running smoothly for your diners.

10. Fine dining restaurants

Fine dining restaurants provide a high-end experience. Menus may cover several courses, there’s almost always a wine list and wait staff will be on hand to provide table service.

Ultimately, while each fine dining restaurant is unique, at its core it should offer customers the finest in food, service and atmosphere. Because of this, it’s essential to maintain a really high level of attention to detail across the board when running a fine dining restaurant.

What are the benefits of running a fine dining restaurant?

Their higher menu prices mean that successful fine dining restaurants can turn a much higher profit than other types of more casual restaurants. Bear in mind, however, that the day-to-day running of a fine dining restaurant involves higher upfront costs. Things like high-quality ingredients, drinks and experienced staff all come at a premium cost.

Tips for running a fine dining restaurant

When you’re first starting out, you’ll need to get your restaurant’s name out there. An email marketing campaign could help attract and bring people in. Square Marketing lets you easily design custom emails, set up automated campaigns and see how your marketing efforts affect your bottom line.

Using the right Point of Sale system and Kitchen Display System can also help ensure that guests have the best experience, without any hiccups to undermine the sophisticated atmosphere you’ve worked so hard to create.

11. Contemporary-casual restaurants

Contemporary-casual dining consists of a combination of a relaxed atmosphere, stylish interiors and an on-trend menu. Popular concepts for contemporary-casual restaurants include farm-to-table and sustainable menus, locally sourced cuisine and fusion cuisine.

These are mostly found in urban and metropolitan areas, with a clientele that’s usually made up of young professionals who are drawn in by the appealing aesthetics and modern menu concepts.

What are the benefits of running a contemporary-casual restaurant?

These restaurants appeal to a younger generation of diners who are often very active on social media. This allows them to quickly explode in popularity. Additionally, you’ll have creative freedom to explore new food trends and experiment with your restaurant’s design.

Tips for running a contemporary-casual restaurant

Stay on top of the latest food trends to keep your customers coming back for more. Contemporary-casual restaurants often do particularly well if they have a unique selling point, such as one particular dish that gets the punters queuing down the block.

12. Bistros

Originating in France, the idea behind bistros is to offer cheaper meals in a more relaxed environment than traditional restaurants. Guests receive table service, the menus are usually moderately priced and the atmosphere is casual – making them a more accessible alternative to fine dining establishments.

What are the benefits of running a bistro?

Bistros are usually smaller, more intimate spaces. This means the start-up and running costs will be lower than other restaurant types. They also often have longer opening hours than restaurants – staying open for breakfast, lunch and dinner rather than limiting themselves to afternoon and evening service only. As a result, they have a higher turnover of customers.

Tips for running a bistro

Offer a high-quality menu, but keep it simple and offer a handful of excellent dishes.

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