Creating a restaurant concept

Food is trendier than ever and new restaurants are opening all the time. So how does it all work - how exactly is a new restaurant concept created?

The secret, according to Samuel Laulajainen

Samuel Laulajainen, who works with concept development at Scandic Hotels, has several successful restaurant start-ups under his belt.

Food - Sweden has a lot to offer

Shopping bags brimming with inspiration delivered right to your door, whilst in the kitchens the meat grinders work overtime. Anything to avoid buying pre-minced beef for the home-stuffed sausages. And whatever time of day you happen to put on the TV, you'll see food being prepared. Celebrity or not, in a vineyard in Tuscany, on a pier in the Stockholm archipelago. Food has simply never been trendier. This is also obvious from the vast array of restaurants on offer. New restaurants are popping up all over the place, with concepts as innovative as they are imaginative. But when everyone these days is a self-proclaimed professional in their own kitchen...

Who's going to visit and eat at these newly opened restaurants? And why?

"Quite simply, we need to be even better. And people eat out a lot more these days than they used to", says Samuel Laulajainen, who works with concept development for Scandic's restaurants and bars. He has held this position for a year now. Before that he worked as a Food & Beverage manager at several different hotels, specialising in starting up new restaurants and bars. The Stockholm hotels, Scandic Anglais, Scandic Malmen and Scandic Grand Central, are some of the hotels that have received a helping hand from the popular restaurant concept that Samuel Laulajainen has helped create. Hotel restaurants are no longer just for hotel guests looking for a simple prawn sandwich and a beer.

Celebrity chefs open restaurants in hotels

You see, the role of hotel restaurants has changed in recent years. This is evident partly by the fact that nowadayscelebrity chefsprefer to open their restaurants in hotels, and partly because it's now easier to recruit staff for hotel restaurants. 
"That's been the case for a long time in cities like London and New York, but now we're seeing it here as well", says Samuel Laulajainen.

The best customer is always a good hotel guest

When he is asked to create a new restaurant concept, he always bases it on the physical conditions. Where's it located in the city? Which city is it? What do the premises look like? There are many factors to take into account. But the most important factor is the hotel guest. 

"Our best customer is always a good hotel guest, and that's why we give them highest priority. And of course, it's always nice to check in to a hotel where there are already local guests in the restaurant. Then you immediately feel like you belong", he explains.

Name the concept development!

One trick he's learnt after launching several successful restaurants and bars, is to start the concept itself off with a name.. 

"That way you immediately have something to build on. Take the new Scandic Continental for example, we're building this in central Stockholm right now. We're going to have a bar on the roof there, a really cool bar with the best views in the city. It's going to be called Capital! So everything else has to reflect that name. Quite simply it has to be cool, biggest and best."

Keeping track of latest trends

Of course it's also important to keep track of the latest trends. Some of the ways Samuel Laulajainen achieves this are by going on inspiration trips as well as following relevant blogs. But his main weapon is his trusted gut instinct, which he has developed over the years. A gut instinct which is currently guiding him in an organic and sustainable direction.

"I think green is on its way in now. That's how it feels. That's why the restaurant at the new Scandic Continental will be called The Market and resemble a large food market. A lot of food, but with afocus on green. Salads will be the base, then proteins such as meat and fish", he explains. It remains to be seen whether his predictions are right yet again. But so far his gut instinct hasn't let him down.

Aren't you ever worried your instinct is wrong?

"Yes, always", he answers. Without looking particularly worried at all.