Multiple economic experts have called 2021 the year of recovery and rebuilding, thanks to the rollout of vaccines across the United States and the dwindling number of COVID-19 infections. California has also reopened, and the biggest states and cities in the country might soon follow suit. For this reason and more, now may be a good time to start dreaming once again about that restaurant you’ve wanted to open before the pandemic hit.
Since so many people were deprived of the experience of dining out, they might be more inclined to start eating out at restaurants once again. Now that the world is opening up again, now may be a good time to start exploring the idea of opening a restaurant. Here are some concepts you can explore to set your business apart.
Pop culture themes
Concepts centered around pop culture might be one of your best bets. All you need is some unique signed memorabilia, Instagram-worthy interiors that perfectly reflect the TV show, film, or music video you want to evoke, and a killer menu with inspired names. You’re on your way to having repeat customers out of that piece of pop culture’s fan base. Here are some pieces of media that recently found their way into the cultural zeitgeist that might be worth exploring:
There’s no denying that Friends was the biggest American sitcom during its time and is arguably the biggest TV show even now, thanks to a new generation of viewers discovering it through Netflix and other streaming platforms. The recent 2021 reunion on HBO Max recorded approximately 29 percent of streaming households in the U.S. during the first day of its release. It’s clear that the Friends fever is here to stay, and there’s nothing like a Central Perk-themed coffee shop to get people to post on their social media accounts.
Lord of the Rings
There’s nothing like transporting your customers to Middle-earth that can make them feel like they’ve truly escaped their humdrum days. If your restaurant is in an area with plenty of trees and greenery, a garden restaurant centered around the world J.R.R. Tolkien created might be a smart idea. You can capitalize on the food popularized by the hobbits and the Elves’ lembas bread. Other dishes you can explore include Bilbo’s famous tea cake, Balin’s spiced beef, and banana and strawberry french toast with bacon and sausage. Tolkien built a world so rich you don’t need to make stuff up.
If you’re worried about centering your restaurant on popular titles that big corporations legally own, you can always opt for a more ambiguous concept, like travel. Imagine transporting your customers to a street-side cafe in Paris without them having to board a plane. Another idea is a nautical concept, where you can leverage the look and feel of the sea without actually placing your restaurant by the beach. You can also take the travel concept to the next level by designing your interiors like a first-class plane, where your customers can get to experience flying luxuriously without spending like it.
Another type of theme you can explore is one that engages the customers outside of just dining. One example is a game-themed restaurant, where your customers can opt to play some board games, card games, or tabletop games while eating. Another example is making an offshoot of the New York City production of Sleep No More, or where the audience needs to go from one room to another to watch Macbeth. You can partner with a local theater company that needs the income, and you can provide an unforgettable experience for your customers.
A note on copyright laws
We have seen an onslaught of nostalgia-ridden concept restaurants in the past few years, and the networks and companies who own the rights to these TV shows and films are certainly taking notice. If you’re thinking of starting a restaurant centered on a popular piece of media, one of the best things you can do to protect yourself and your business is to lawyer up. It will do you well to ensure that you’re not stepping on anyone’s toes and that everything is above board, and that you’re not violating any copyright laws. Ask them if you need authorization from the companies that own the rights to these pieces of media and what you need to do to obtain it.
Our post-pandemic world will be all about taking back everything we lost during the COVID-19 crisis, and a big part of that is creating unforgettable and positive experiences. Give your customers this opportunity by starting a unique restaurant where they can forget their problems even for a few hours.