Restaurant Design and Development, and Concept Development

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Restaurant concepts without borders

Many restaurant concept companies see potential, or have inquiries to expand to other countries, either using their own resources, or by finding strategic partners in those new markets/countries. But the exportability of concepts can be a tricky venture, as these new markets can have significant differences, which have to be adapted to.

Moscow McDonalds 300x201 Restaurant concepts without borders Starbuck Paris 300x164 Restaurant concepts without borders

Starbucks expansion into Europe is an interesting case study of adapting to new markets. Most people would have said that Starbucks would never succeed in Paris or in France, but this has not been the case, and if one goes to a Starbucks in Pris, it is full most of the day. Take out sales are small (mostly American tourists), drive thrus non existent. Customer go, and stay, meet, chat, work there. Seating count has to be high. Also from a market segment, in the afternoons and weekends, the Starbucks has become the hangout of the under 18s. Starbucks adapted and succeeded.

Pret A Manger 300x164 Restaurant concepts without borders Vapiano 300x200 Restaurant concepts without borders

A German restaurant concept of Italian food expanded to the USA, building restaurants in NY, Washington, Chicago, and after having been very successful in 20 other countries, is struggling. Vapianos restaurants are organized into different stations (pizza, pasta, salads). The customer is given a card which he presents at the different stations where the charge is put into it. At the end of the meal, at the exit, one pays using that card. Mos of their locations have a full bar and are very well designed (big build out costs). Problem is that their are designed for Europe, where most lunch customers will dedicate an hour for lunch, and if they don’t have that hour, they will get a quick sandwich (hence the success of sandwich concepts like Pret a Manger). Most of the Vapianos are in a heavy lunch environment, where most restaurants will do 80% of their business be in the two hours from 12 to 2 pm. And then it does not have table service, so customer has to wait for their order and get in line for it. In the pasta station, the pasta is cooked in a pasta cooker (2 minutes), and then in a small wok on an induction burner, the protein (eg, chicken, shrimp or others are cooked, vegetables are added and the sauce of choice. If there are 4 customers in front, then the fifth will have a wait time of 12 to 18 minutes. Concept doesn’t work for the US city lunch market, for the same price they can be at a full serve restaurant with table service and not have to queue. Concept did not adapt to the market.

In some markets, US quick serve restaurants (such as McDonalds) are viewed as a premium brand (in many cases more expensive than many full serve restaurants), and McDonalds has adapted their stores, menu and design to fit those markets.

It’s all about adapting the concepts and the brand to the local market.


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