What are Food Concepts? Breaking Down Different Kinds of Food Businesses


A food concept is an idea that can be executed in a restaurant. It's how the menu items are presented and served, and how customers order food. The goal of this article is to go over what different kinds of food concepts exist so you can understand what kind of restaurant business you'd like to open up.

Quick service restaurants

Quick service restaurants are the fastest growing segment of the restaurant industry, with revenue increasing by 6% annually. These are defined as restaurants that have limited menus and minimal table service. The most common example of a quick service restaurant is a fast food restaurant like McDonald's or Burger King, which offer low-cost items that can be purchased quickly. But there are many other types of quick service establishments such as cafeterias and salad bars, pizza chains like Domino’s and Papa Johns; Mexican chains such as Taco Bell or Chipotle; sandwich shops like Panera Bread; Asian food chains like Panda Express and Pei Wei Asian Diner; chicken wings chains like Buffalo Wild Wings; ice cream parlors like Ben & Jerry’s Scoop Shop (who knew?) - the list goes on!

These types of establishments can be found in malls, airports, hospitals/medical centers/clinics/schools etc.

Fast casual

Fast casual is a style of restaurant that offers premium food at fast food prices. It's often described as an upscale version of fast food, with higher-quality ingredients and a nicer dining experience than your typical burger joint, but less expensive than casual dining restaurants like Applebee's and Chili's.

Fast casual restaurants typically have counter service and table service, but the quality and atmosphere are generally more upscale than fast food restaurants. While you can expect to pay more than at a McDonald's or Burger King when you eat out at one of these places, they're typically cheaper than chains like Panera Bread or Chipotle Mexican Grill.

One example of a popular type of fast-casual restaurant is Diners—these eateries offer classic American fare such as burgers, fries and milkshakes alongside salads and other healthful options.

Casual dining

In the foodservice industry, casual dining refers to a restaurant that serves food with a casual atmosphere. Typically, these are establishments in shopping malls or strip malls and do not have table service. This can include fast-food restaurants (like Taco Bell or McDonald's), cafeterias and buffets (like Denny's), pizza parlors (like Domino's), ice cream shops (like Coldstone Creamery) and more. They tend to be family-friendly places that serve food that you can easily eat with your hands: sandwiches, burgers and pizza; some even offer buffets where you can choose from various options like pasta salad or mashed potatoes.

Casual dining restaurants are found in most major cities across the world but there are also plenty of them in smaller towns too!

Niche style restaurants

Niche style restaurants are restaurants or food stands offering only one type of food. An example of a niche style restaurant is a hotdog stand or sushi restaurant, which offer just hotdogs and sushi respectively. Niche style restaurants can also be based off a region or culture of the World.

Niche style restaurants are popular among tourists who are looking for a specific type of food that they cannot find in their home country. Niche style restaurants can also be found in cities where there is large population from one particular culture, such as Chinese food in New York City or Italian food in Chicago.

Family style restaurants

Family-style restaurants are a type of restaurant that serves large portions of food and tends to have a more casual atmosphere. This type of restaurant is often associated with comfort food and fun times for family and friends. 

Upscale casual dining

The upscale casual dining segment of the restaurant industry is a broad category that includes restaurants that serve higher-quality food than fast-food chains, but not as high quality as fine dining. Examples include Red Robin, T.G.I. Friday's and Applebee's. These types of restaurants are typically family-friendly, with some locations being open 24 hours a day (or close to it).

Fine dining restaurants

A fine dining restaurant is the most expensive and luxurious type of restaurant. These restaurants have a formal atmosphere, high quality food and service, and an extensive wine list. They might require reservations months in advance, especially for the best tables. They are usually found in large cities where there are more affluent customers to support them.

Fine dining restaurants may also be found in hotels or resorts as part of their food service offerings.

Ghost Kitchens & Takeout only concepts

A ghost kitchen is a takeout-only concept. The idea is that you don’t need any seating or wait staff, as the food is picked up by food service couriers or sent out for delivery. The term “ghost” refers to the fact that this type of business has no dining room (like a “ghost town”). These restaurants are perfect for busy professionals who want to grab lunch on their way back to work after a lunch break, and can be successful in large cities with high demand for convenient food delivery options such as New York City and San Francisco.

Ghost kitchens do not require much space; however, they can still serve hundreds of customers daily through their online ordering system. Because there are no servers on site at these types of businesses, all orders must be placed ahead via phone or website—but once an order comes in, it gets quickly processed through an automated system which prepares it for pick up or delivery within minutes.

There are many different kinds of food businesses and markets.

There are many different kinds of food businesses and markets. Some of them are very specific, while others can be more flexible. Understanding the difference between them will help you figure out which type is best for your specific situation. 

Restaurants can focus on any style of food and price point: from fast-casual burgers to high-end sushi and everything in between. The point here is that when you're thinking about starting a new kind of food business, consider what niche you'd like to fill first: low-end or high-, fast casual or full service?

Bonus: Self Serve Food Concepts

Self-serve food concepts are growing in popularity. They allow you to offer a variety of menu items and make it easy for guests to customize their own meal. When done correctly, self-serve can be an excellent way to cater to a wide audience and encourage healthy eating habits.

A buffet is perhaps the most common example of a self-serve food concept: it allows customers to choose from various food stations as well as add sauces or toppings themselves. You can also use this model at your restaurant, but instead of having one area with all types of foods available, consider breaking up your offerings into multiple stations that focus on specific types of cuisine (e.g., gluten free). This will allow you to offer vegetarian options without having a separate vegetarian station—simply keep things separate but clearly labeled so customers know what they're getting into before they order!


There are a lot of different kinds of food businesses out there, and they can be very successful if you know what you’re doing. If you want to open up your own restaurant, it’s important to do some research first. Look at the competition in your area before making any decisions about where or when exactly will be right for opening up shop.

If you need any help, feel free to reach out to a team member at Food Business Machines. We can help you with advice on the best way to set up your restaurant from start to finish, as well as give you some pointers on how to make it successful!