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Designing a Flagship Restaurant: What you need to know

If you’re considering opening a flagship restaurant, congratulations! It’s a big undertaking— but a rewarding one.

Restaurant flagship locations drive excitement for your brand—and they’re exciting to design, too. Building a standard franchise location is all about efficiency and operational flow. You’re following a template and often have limited space, forcing you to design within a creative box. But building a flagship restaurant is all about throwing away that box entirely.

If you’re not familiar with the term, a flagship restaurant is a brand’s showpiece location. It’s often the largest restaurant and in a visible and high-trafficked area. They’re considered the pinnacle of a restaurant chain, and they’re designed to draw media attention, new customers, and new franchisees to their doors.

What’s exciting about flagship locations is that no two are alike. Each has its own personality and unique design.

But since they’re all unique, their planning and design can be challenging. Dive into flagship restaurants and see how your restaurant group might use them to your advantage.

Why Open a Flagship Restaurant?

Opening a flagship restaurant seems like a high-stakes undertaking, so why bother? We have a few reasons:

  1. Spotlight a brand shift: If your brand is due for a refresh, a flagship restaurant is a great place to show off your new look. Use your flagship opening as a way to usher in a new era of your business, complete with a new look.

  2. Highlight brand values: Opening a flagship restaurant with a purpose can create a positive shift in your brand image. For example, McDonald’s is looking to improve their carbon footprint. Their flagship restaurant in Orlando, Florida focuses on sustainability and is designed as a net-zero energy operation.

  3. Bring in new customers: Creating a high-profile presence in a specific location, like Times Square, is a great way to attract new customers. People who would otherwise pass by your restaurants are more likely to pop into a flagship—and might even become regulars.

  4. Test out new trends: Due to the high volume of people you can attract to your flagship, you have a great opportunity to test out new cuisine. Offering exclusive food items is also a great way to get more customers through the door. Chipotle’s Next Kitchen in NYC offers experimental menu items to get customer feedback and generate buzz.

  5. Build a showpiece: Whether you’re just starting to expand or already have restaurants across the country, a flagship restaurant will present your brand in the best light. Bring new investors in, give future franchisees a glimpse at what’s possible, and celebrate the brand.
Can’t get everyone to your new location?
We can take 3D scans of your flagship restaurant so you can give everyone the full experience.

The Dos and Don’ts of Designing a Flagship Restaurants

Since a flagship restaurant is inherently different from all your other restaurants, there are some things you’ll need to keep in mind. Here are some basic dos and don’ts as you plan and prepare your concept.

  • Don’t make it overly fancy if that’s not your brand’s aesthetic.
  • Do emphasize your brand image and pump up the volume on brand values and character.
    • For example, if your brand values transparency, include open views of the kitchen. If fresh ingredients are your top priority, showcase those in the design.

  • Don’t introduce too much change at once if you already have an established brand. While it might be tempting to create a whole new menu, you still want to be recognizable to your existing customers. Instead, mix changes with reliable standbys to preserve brand recognition.
  • Do consider adding unique features that represent the location.
    • For example, the two-story Taco Bell flagship restaurant in Las Vegas has a DJ booth and VIP area, true to the Vegas club aesthetic. It’s still inherently a Taco Bell but fits the atmosphere of the strip.

  • Don’t choose aesthetics over experience. It’s easy to get carried away with design and forget about your guests’ dining experience. Consistent, quality food is even more critical at your flagship restaurant.
  • Do keep in mind operational flow. A larger space just creates new challenges in operational flow and kitchen design. If your flagship doesn’t provide the best and speediest service, what does that say about your other restaurants?

Turn to Avanti for Flagship Restaurant Design

Embarking on a flagship restaurant concept is both exciting and overwhelming. Every decision, from where to build to where to put the registers, will impact your brand image. With an undertaking so important, the sooner you turn to the experts, the better.

Avanti is here to help. Reach out with your next flagship restaurant design project, and we’ll get to work.

Avanti Design Studio
Optimize your restaurant with a logical kitchen workflow, customer flow, seating layout, and more.
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