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If you were to open your own restaurant...

If you were to open your dream restaurant what would you open?
Ethnic cuisine?
Special Items you'd have that aren't at any of the restaurants you've been to?
What would you call it?
How would yours differ from others on the market/how would yours be special?

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  1. What kind of music would you play? I forgot to add that one!

    1. Assuming I had the money and access to good chefs, I'd want one similar to the Elephant Deli on 23rd in Portland, OR. It would have the casual atmosphere, the accessible working chefs, the comprehensive menu, and the cold case with all the premade goodies, and the best coffee! I would add a few more diet drinks to the stock. I like to see my food, or watch it being prepared, and I like a casual atmosphere. I like all sorts of people eating and enjoying their food. I like mulitple chefs interacting with the people they are making the food for. Takeout would be available and painless. I'd have a good selection of local brews of course, and maybe local wine. And--I'd host cookbook signings in the large group room. The menu would rotate and would feature local faves, and newer ethnic tastes. It would be located off a public transportation line, but would have ample parking. The restaurant would have so many signature dishes, there would a demand for its own cookbook.

      1. The one thing my neighborhood lacks is a decent diner: you just can't get breakfast out in Allston. So a straight-up breakfast/sandwich/blue-plate diner, nothing cutesy, nothing "artisanal," just a place where the eggs aren't gross and you can get a decent burger. Also, the Texan in me wants to be able to lay hands on a proper chicken fried steak, so that'll be one of the dinner specials. Music would come from the jukebox in the corner.

        1. I'd go for a Chinese-Mexican "fusion" restaurant. The decor would be "Bruce Lee meets Nacho Libre." I'd have carne asada chow mein, nopales with shittake mushrooms, roast duck tacos with green onions, and stir-fried beef with chipotle sauce and Sichuan pepper corns. I think I'd call it: La Comida Chino or something like that.

          6 Replies
          1. re: raytamsgv

            If you ever get to the Phoenix AZ area, look for our Chinese-Mexican favorite - Chino Bandito.

            1. re: raytamsgv

              And Chicago's Asian taco joint Taco Chino. Nothing is truly "new" anymore.

              1. re: ferret

                I hadn't seen this combination and was talking with the owner, who although is anglo, grew up in AZ eating a lot of Mexican food. He's married to a Chinese woman and this is the food their children grew up eating. It's quite a tasty combination especially since they have a menu that encourages mixing it up -- Jade chicken burritos etc. This is making me hungry for a return trip to Chino Bandito.

              2. re: raytamsgv

                Interesting idea. I'd not seen Chinese-Mexican places yet, but spotted an English-Mexican eatery in Hammersmith, London, last June called Robin Hood-Zorro :-D

                1. re: klyeoh

                  oh that's inventive and hysterical too :]

              3. I know it would be tough, tiring work with little to no financial reward, but I've always loved the idea of running an old school Greek-style fast food stand in Chicago. You know the ones that sell Italian beef, char burgers, Chicago dogs, Polish sausages, cheddar fries, gyros, tamales, and grilled chicken sandwiches? The problem with these places is that they all have the same huge menu, but usually nothing is excellent and some items are downright awful. At my fantasy stand we would sell all the ubiquitous Chicago fast foods, and they would somehow all be great.

                I'm not picky about decor but there are some must-haves: The menu has to be one of those yellowed backlit affairs with removable black letters. There would be no tables, just a counter running along the wall with patched-up stools to sit in. And there would be wooden picnic tables outside shaded by trees.

                4 Replies
                1. re: RealMenJulienne

                  With pubfare getting the gastro treatment, I see no reason why the same can't be done to Chicagoland's workingclass comfort fare. M. Wells managed to do the same for diner fare in Queens, NY to rave reviews. To do so for tamales and Polishes would be a masterstroke. I hope you choose to keep Green River on your soda list.

                  1. re: JungMann

                    It’s interesting to think about upscaling this class of food. Take an Italian beef sandwich for example, would it be better if it was made with a fresh-baked roll instead of a cheap Gonnela roll? It is an objectively better bread but you would lose the gross (in a good way) squishy sogginess of the original. If it was made with prime rib instead of round roast could you still call it an Italian beef?

                    I'm not sure this genre of food gains much from upscaling the ingredients. I think what seperates a good stand from a bad one is quick turnover and attention to detail in assembly, both of which are very hard to accomplish with the big menus you find at these places.

                    1. re: RealMenJulienne

                      There are some iconic foods that are so close to perfect, that fussing can do more damage than simply using quality, tasty ingredients. Italian beef is a good example (though I think there are bad giardinieras that can ruin an otherwise perfect sandwich). There are other foods, though, which I think allow for more culinary expression, like a favorite marinade or sauce that turns a char-grilled chicken sandwich into a thing of greatness, or a chili recipe that makes for addictive tamales. I'm not saying you should serve truffle and gouda-filled pizza puffs, but if you make an outstanding filling with whole tomato chunks and locally made pepperoni, I could hardly fault you.

                      1. re: JungMann

                        Yeah it's definitely case-by-case. A Chicago dog is all factory-made ingredients so the only way to improve it is thoughtful assembly; Poochie's in Skokie makes the best one in Chicagoland because it's not slopping all over the place and every bite gets you a little bit of everything. But you could really improve something like a tamale by making it from scratch.

                2. I would open a restaurant that does food challenges that rotate once a month. Maybe that's ALL my restaurant will do! There's a few that I know of near where I live in the Bay Area, but the challenges don't change and they have a regular menu as well--Fenton's Creamery gives you three giant scoops of ice cream in a banana split with toppings, and you have to finish it in 15 minutes! Pho Garden challenges you with a massive $22 bowl of pho with 2 pounds of noodles, 2 pounds of beef, and 60 minutes to finish it all.

                  So maybe a challenge in the summer could be a giant plate of jalapeno poppers. Around valentines day, a dessert platter. Around Thanksgiving, a whole turkey! This is starting to sound dangerous.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: acetaminophen

                    Breakfast! Omelet's that aren't rubber. Cafe au lait. Real pots of real jam and honey. Fabulous baguettes, croissants and toast. Fresh squeezed juices. Smoke house bacon. More cafe au lait....

                  2. I'd sell only appetizers and desserts. That's what I check out first on menus all the time.
                    American cuisine. Plain and simple.
                    Decor = IKEA - storage on the walls you could see, etc.
                    Name = Start AND Finish (as opposed to Start to Finish!)
                    Special items = fun beverages like egg creams, cherry lime rickeys, Shirley Temples, etc. (Geez, this sounds so tacky!)
                    How it would differ = Local(ish) and in-season ingredients, so the menu would change with the season
                    Music - Diners would be at the mercy of my iPod on shuffle, which could mean any of the following:
                    Steely Dan
                    Sting (both solo and The Police)
                    Middle Eastern popular
                    Bird and the Bee/Sia/Fiona Apple
                    Miles Davis
                    Theolonius Monk
                    Joni Mitchell
                    Elvis Costello concept albums (Alan Toussard, Brodsky Quartet, Burt Bacharach)

                    1. My Italian XMIL always said that "everything is better w/cream cheese" and she was right!

                      Theme = comfort food
                      Ethnic = Italian & American
                      Specialty = cream cheese tea sandwiches
                      Decor = plush shabby chic
                      Specialty Item = my tuna salad
                      I would call it = Suzy Creme Cheese
                      How different? = all items made w/cream cheese as an ingredient
                      Music = what I like (classic rock)

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: laliz

                        are you me? :)))))

                        love your ideas.....................

                      2. My restaurant would be in my house, food served on my MIL's Rosenthal China and patrons would be "invited" to attend for $150. If invited, you must come or be off the invitation list forever. If you cancel you will also be off the list forever. Dinner would be served 3 times a week and would consist of an appetizer, an entree with appropriate sides, dessert (probably two choices since I like to make desserts) and would include a drinkable, but hopefully inexpensive wine. As you can probably imagine, I will never have my own restaurant . I'll just continue to cook for DH and myself following the above guidelines. DH never declines my invites nor does he ever cancel.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: amazinc

                          please put me on your list, I love your concepts

                        2. I've had a restaurant idea in mind for over 30 years now.

                          Name: Hell's Kitchen
                          Concept: A pyrogustomaniacal tavern, serving hot & spicy foods from a variety of cuisines around the world.
                          Soundtrack: Ravel's Bolero

                          I'm far too lazy to actually do it but I think it would be cool.

                          8 Replies
                          1. re: BobB

                            Pyrogustomaniacal! I googled it, thinking it was a real term--it might as well be. I would love this restaurant because I love my food extra extra spicy. You'd have to serve Thai food Thai spicy!

                              1. re: BobB

                                Bolero on a loop...Hell's Kitchen indeed!

                                1. re: Niblet

                                  Good grief, not on a loop! This is just a concept, not a business plan.

                                  There are a few tunes from Jerry Springer: The Opera (especially from Act 2) that would work particularly well also.

                                  1. re: BobB

                                    Bob don't mind me I'm just being silly.

                                    You could have a Demons and Angels theme, with ice cream menu on the Angel side and staff in flowing white dresses sweeping over to proffer cones. A take on Hell Night at ECG of course.

                                2. re: BobB

                                  That sounds like a blast! I don't do crazy spicy myself but I like the concept.

                                  1. My dream restaurant would be a small Italian place.

                                    It would have a changing seasonal menu, with only a small amount of choices.
                                    Definitely, a daily tasting menu based upon what was good at the farmers market that day - would be the focus.

                                    Rustic Chic would be the decor. Lots of candles and flowers

                                    Nelly's would be the name (??)

                                    Very soft, barely audible music, but not sure exactly what type.

                                    I'd like to open it in a small town, so that it would be different from the average "red sauce" places ....

                                    Yup, that would be my dream

                                    1. I have two separate concepts. The first is an International House of Dumplings, featuring everything from momos to pierogi. Virtually every culture/country has its own filled steamed/boiled dough delights and everyone loves them.

                                      The second is An Apple a Day. Every dish would contain some form of apple, and there would be a bar featuring artisanal ciders both sweet and hard.

                                      In both cases, the butter would be unsalted, the bread free of AP flour, and there would be no special children's menu, just smaller portion sizes available for kids.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: greygarious

                                        Opening and running a restaurant would be a lot of hard work, and I'm lazy, so instead of opening my own place, I would eat here, at Greygarious's IHOD. This sounds genuinely awesome, in a real-world sort of way. I would also eat at Teezeetoo's breakfast place and CurlieGlamourGirlie's app and dessert place regularly.

                                        I implore all 3 of you to open these restaurants in current culinary wastelands and suggest Gabriola Island, BC, as one such place - I lived there for years, and I know for a fact that a Chowhound conference there would probably end in some sort of village-burning and pitchfork rampage the food is so unbelievably terrible.

                                        Omg. Duuuuumplings. You will also all have to pitch in to buy me my mobility scooter, so when I'm too fat to walk, I can still get to your fine establishments.

                                      2. A Vegetable lunch buffet

                                        Not a vegetarian restaurant - they tend to focus on the "fake meat" and neglect veggies.

                                        I'd want two buffet tables, a cold one for salad, and a hot table for various steamed and grilled vegetables.

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: GraydonCarter

                                          I would definitely visit your place. But couldn't you have a little protein too? What sort of desserts would you serve in your Vegetable Lunch Buffet?

                                          1. re: sueatmo

                                            Protein, like quinoa? ;-)

                                            Oh, I'm not a vegetarian, I just like veggies and salad for lunch. Protein on the salad bar is a profit-killer (chopped chicken breast being more expensive than lettuce) but Ruby Tuesday's seems to do okay with plenty of eggs, cheese, ham, tuna, and chicken.

                                            I'd feature a speciall Summer Vegetable Terrine.

                                            Dessert: Zucchini Pound Cake with Vanilla Cream Sugar Crust

                                        2. "Wok on the Wild Side", spicy cuisines from around the world. Chile pepper decor. Music? The Red Hot Chile Peppers, of course.

                                          2 Replies
                                            1. re: BobB

                                              Nope. Bolero is for the bedroom not the resto. Chipotle kapusta?

                                          1. tossed around these ideas in my head:

                                            -empanada shop, specializing in all kinds (not just one) - filipino, chilean, Argentinian, Mexican, Peruvian and all variants that really are empanadas, but just called something else (calzone, spinach pie, etc). Probably a take out place with a few indoor and outdoor seats.
                                            -filipino restaurant in a college town. Low key, laid back, low price.
                                            -always wanted to open up a bagel shop in CA that made a "California" bagel. What is a "California" bagel? Im still trying to find out (and no, it's not fluffly bread that Californians try to pass off as bagels - something distinct, just to shut up the east coasters who come here and complain about the state of bagel making in the west coast)

                                            3 Replies
                                              1. re: majordanby

                                                There are quite a few empanada shops here in NYC and none of them are very satisfying. The Colombian versions don't seem to keep well while estilo Argentino seems to mean pretty much anything you want it to. If I could find an empanada shop that made fresh-tasting, flaky pastries with fillings both traditional and innovative, I'd happily commit carbocide.

                                                1. re: JungMann

                                                  ive found the filipino versions to be on the flakier side. the Argentinian versions are typically what most people are exposed to - ground beef with egg, or some variant of that. i tried a decent Jamaican empanada place in DC once - a lot more spicier and considered to be a meal by itself.

                                                  innovative empanadas are harder to find, although a shop here in SF, el porteno (http://www.elportenosf.com/), specialize in mixing in different ingredients in their empanadas. unfortunately, their bread is something left to be desired.

                                                  one of these days my dream will come true...

                                              2. My dream restaurant was going to be called "Treif".

                                                But somebody beat me to it and opened under that name in Brooklyn last year (in the middle of a Hassidic community to boot). The owner is Jewish (but he happens to love pork and shellfish). He spells it a bit differently for pronunciation's sake: "Traif"

                                                Apparently the idea was a good one...the place is doing pretty well.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: The Professor

                                                  the Chef/Owner from Traif was on a "Chopped" episode I saw the other night. I got a pretty good chuckle over the name.

                                                2. Theme, French peasant/country cooking

                                                  Ethnic Cuisine: I guess I would throw in a few tajines and some moroccan food since the French are fond of those--oh...and a bit of cajun for fun.

                                                  Speciality: My macaron, my clafoutis, meringues, cassoulet (Touluse),

                                                  Decor: Would be extremely rustic. No fancy-pants type, rustic and comfortable

                                                  Special items would be an entire line of fruit sirops that I would make (when I figure out how), to add to water--this way kids that are dining would not have to drink overly-sweet soda.

                                                  I would call it "Dinky Soliel" (It has a family meaning)

                                                  My restaurant would differ from others on the market and it would be special because it would have ME as owner/hostess with the mostess/my recipes.

                                                  Music would be Pink Martini, Jacques Brel, Serge Gainsbourg, Joe Dassin, Serge Lama, Carla Bruni Sarkosy (yes, I happen to like her soft music), The Kinks, Jimi Hendrix, Beausoliel, Clifton Chenier, Edit Piaf, Franz Schubert, John Mayer, Edith Piaf, Patricia Kass, Alain Souchon, Raphael , Eminem, Bobby Darin and, last but not least, a great, great band--SUAREZ

                                                  1. I would open a restaurant that featured the cuisine of Ancient Rome. I've tried some of those Roman dishes that I found in a few Ancient Rome themed cookbooks, and they are uniquely delicious, quit unlike anything I've tasted and not at all similar to contemporary Italian food. Actually seems closer to the Middle-Eastern or even South-East Asian cuisines. And I wouldn't have the waiter personnel wear togas. I think I'd call it 'THE PRINCIPATE".

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. I think I would keep it simple.
                                                      Cheeseburger! Cheeseburger! Cheeseburger!
                                                      No Coke. Pepsi!
                                                      No fries - chips!

                                                      Ala the Olympia Cafe on SNL.

                                                      1. these are probably the questions that plague all who'd love to open an eatery.
                                                        many ideas over the years, but none make me want to leave the life I have for a life of marriage to a store.

                                                        1. It would serve what I like to eat most in restaurants - seasonal and local produce, cooked in a regional style. Traditional dishes with a modern twist.

                                                          Of course, there's nothing new in that. But I reckon there would still be slack in the market in my immediate area for a well-priced mid-range bistro serving that food. It'd be the sort of place with the price that attracts the midweek diner but with a special enough ambiance for a special occasion (OK , maybe not a mega special occasion, but a birthday or important date)

                                                          1. Not a theme, per se, because I don't like them. But I'd be very interested in doing a bkfst/lunch only house, with an in-house bakery doing beautiful and homey things: bars, pies, brownies and big soft or crispy cookies; muffins and such; bagels and pretzels. And what I'd do with the menu is offer versions of the same food: the "sinful" (though I don't REALLY believe in attaching guilt and shame to food) and the "sinless," e.g. a choice of a classic fried chicken lunch, complete with gravy and buttery mashed potatoes and slow cooked stringbeans vs. delicious crispy roasted chicken with a vinaigrette dressed green salad and a baked potato. Something like that. Eggs Benedict, made as horrifyingly caloric and decadent in as many versions as I could come up with, vs. poached eggs on spinach with a light enriched broth sauce made with parmesan, sided with sliced tomatoes. Like so. I think it'd work; something for everybody. Hoppel Poppel, made with salami and cheese and mushrooms, vs. a vegetarian tofu scramble. Ok, that's the restaurant I want to do. Don't have a name yet though; nothing that doesn't sound trite or cutesy, like "The Front Porch" or "The Pantry." I might just have to call it mamachef's. And every chowhound in town's invited to the soft opening when it happens. :)

                                                            1. I just opened my own restaurant. It is Fusion Asian w/ amazing food and simple decor. It is a mix between Mexican and Asian food. It has menu items such as Pork Carnita Buns w/ sour onions, schezwan shrimp tacos, pork belly tacos, Barbacoa rice, and much more. Are restaurant differs from other Asian Fusion restaurants because most of them are fused w/ European cuisine...our menu is mixed w/ Mexican cuisine.

                                                              1. My husband has had a dream for a long time that features comfort food from around the world. You know, the things that mom used to make that you won't find in any restaurant, even of that ethnicity. Food like dahl dokla, or kicheree and kadhi (which he always begs his Gujarati sisters to cook for him when he's visiting, as it reminds him of home...and they always resist because its "too simple"). He would have two or three countries and their comfort dishes featured each night. Decor would be homey, of course:-)

                                                                1. Where I live, what we lack is a restaurant within a 30 mile radius that uses whole, fresh ingredients. I would open a place that would be open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and feature as much locally-produced ingredients, cooked simply (typical Midwestern recipes) to let them shine on their own. Everything made from scratch... all marinades, sauces, stocks, and condiments included... with no artificial anything. Beyond that, I haven't thought enough about opening a restaurant to think of any more details. Mostly, that's just a place that I wish someone ELSE would open up around here!! ;)

                                                                  I guess, pretty much what Harters said, except without the "modern twist". I'd keep it the same way my grandmother (an amazing cook!!) made the dishes.

                                                                  1. If you were to open your dream restaurant what would you open? I have found a very large storage building overlooking right where the local stream joins the major river. VERY picturesque. I figure to add a deck dropped down about three feet from the main floor of the restaurant so inside diners can still see the river through picture windows without deck diners blocking the view. I also plan to build a small dock for kayakers and canoe-ers. Also a major snowmobile/mountainbiking trail runs right behind the building.

                                                                    Theme? I live in northern Maine in potato country, so it will have a local family farm theme.

                                                                    Ethnic cuisine? Northern Maine comfort food with a slight fusion of my native southern cuisine

                                                                    Specialty? Poutine, Ploys, potato dishes

                                                                    Decor? antique farm implements, old local pictures

                                                                    Special Items you'd have that aren't at any of the restaurants you've been to? Sausage Gravy and Biscuits, Chicken Biscuits, Chicken Fried Steak....

                                                                    What would you call it? The Potato House Restaurant and Bakery

                                                                    How would yours differ from others on the market/how would yours be special? Once again, the southern fusion and also the bakery. We will totally use whole foods, no precanned, prefrozen, precooked (insert expletive here). EVERYTHING will be made in our kitchens.

                                                                    What kind of music would you play? We have local musicians and I would also play local Native American recordings.