Zara Restaurant and Lounge

Start your own business plan »

Ethnic Food Restaurant Business Plan

Strategy and Implementation Summary

Our strategy is simple. We intend to succeed by giving people a combination of excellent and interesting food in an environment that appeals to a wide and varied group of successful adults.

We will focus on establishing a strong identity in our community with a grand opening. Our main focus in marketing thereafter will be to increase customer awareness in the surrounding communities. We will direct all of our tactics and programs toward the goal of explaining who we are and what we do. We will keep our standards high and execute the concept flawlessly, so that word-of-mouth will be our main marketing force.

We will create an appealing and entertaining environment with unbeatable quality at an exceptional price. As an exciting and eclectic restaurant, we will be the talk of the town. Therefore, the execution of our concept is the most critical element of our plan.

All menu items are moderately priced for the area. While we are not striving to be the lowest-priced restaurant, we are aiming to offer exceptional food at reasonable prices for the average restaurant diner.

Competitive Edge

Zara's competitive edges are:

  1. The owners' thorough understandings of opening and running a restaurant
  2. An extraordinary contemporary restaurant design
  3. International menu with featured menu changes every 4 months
  4. Unique, 3-Tiered spatial layout
  5. Chef Co-op program to allow new entrants, trainee and featured chef
  6. Chef/Management Stock Incentive Program.
  7. Inner and Outer City Marketing campaign (i.e. "Come to Town" promotions)
  8. Employee Training, Incentive and Retention program

Competitor Analysis

Below are excerpts from our competitive analysis study.

1. The Kitchen (Direct Competitor):

We were able to draw some conclusions from this analysis that helped defined the concept and positioning for Zara: 1) Keep the menu pricing modest but offer superior food quality and presentation. We plan to keep the menu prices under $20; 2) Midtown is a prime restaurant location. One Midtown Kitchen is in an obscure location but has thrived as one of the more successful restaurants in the area; and 3) The customer base in this segment of Atlanta is ready for after-hours dining, and is willing to travel to establishments that accommodate their needs.

2. Lunaci (Direct Competitor):

This restaurant is a main competitor for Zara, a casual dining restaurant that has evolved to be a great success story for the Midtown district. This restaurant served to validate 1) the tapas concept appeal for Midtown customers; 2) the evolving need for after-hours dining; 3) tapas as a good food concept for after-hours dining (smaller portions, smaller price); 4) the appeal of live Entertainment.

3. Cumulus (Indirect Competitor)

This restaurant has grown in popularity over the years, and has gained popularity as a destination restaurant that can cater to business professionals as well as the local residents. The menu is somewhat formal for this market segment, but the bar attracts a good crowd. During this study it was evident that some patrons came exclusively to sit at the bar, without any intent of dining in the restaurant.

Cumulus is more of a formal dining restaurant and meets a certain need within the community, but I don't see it as a direct competitor of Zara. I do feel that it has some very special elements that have helped it succeed over the past 3 years, which Zara can benefit from.

4. Cheesecake Factory (#1 Restaurant Comparison):

Although Cheesecake Factory is outside of Zara's restaurant district and not considered a direct competitor, it was beneficial to analyze the most profitable restaurant in Atlanta to understand what contributes to their success. Cheesecake Factor offers several key elements that would also benefit Zara: 1) Customer Satisfaction through moderate pricing and high-quality food; 2) Location selection to benefit from core customer demographics, situated in a busy/popular area for both business and residential traffic; 3) Exceptional Service, from the Valet, to Hosting, to Wait, Bus, and Bar staff; and 4) Menu Variety, offering a broad array of menu items.

5. Swing Restaurant (Indirect Competitor):

This restaurant is not in our market district and therefore not a direct competitor, although we do consider it an ‘indirect' competitor. Swing incorporates some of the characteristics that we have mapped out for Zara. Those elements are: 1) A Tapas and Entrée menu – realizing that customers want varied meal size and variety; 2) A club type atmosphere to entice the single scene and to drive bar sales.

Swing validates some of the elements uncovered in our market research as to what the new Atlanta diners are looking for. This serves as a true validation that the timing is right for the Zara Restaurant & Lounge concept.


Failed Restaurant Analysis: Mumbo Jumbo
Mumbo Jumbo was an Atlanta restaurant attraction in the downtown core, a strong competitor that was severely impacted by the patronage demise after 9/11. I also completed an analysis of this restaurant back in 1999 and compared it to this current analysis in 2003. Several factors led to closing of this restaurant:

This was a very cosmopolitan restaurant located in a core business community. The restaurant was hidden in cross streets and away from the general street traffic. This was a destination restaurant and a secondary selection for the general customer base in this area.

Lesson Learned: As part of this analysis, we have determined that the downtown core is not a good fit for the Zara concept. We will limit our site selection to the core Midtown district and the upper Downtown district. Midtown is Atlanta's major growth district and is developing the residential infrastructure in pace with the business infrastructure.

Customer Segment:
Atlanta's downtown core is not ready for this type of restaurant. Atlanta's downtown core is a business district, and residential development for this area is at the Genesis state. The primary customer base is the business person and tourist. The largest percentage of this customer segment will be looking for a restaurant in which to conduct business or a family establishment; Mumbo Jumbo would not be a primary selection in either case.

Lesson Learned: Zara's target market demographics are perfectly in alignment with the Midtown profile. Midtown has a business core as well as a residential core. We will look to the business core for our primary daytime business, but to our residential core for our dinner and after-hours patronage. In addition, the business core will look to Zara as a place of socialization for dinner and after-hours unwinding. Mumbo Jumbo depended on the business segment for their lunch and dinner profits, and customers who would travel from outside the downtown district to eat at the restaurant – there was no static dinner segment.

Hand-in-hand with location, this restaurant also suffered from poor visibility. In the downtown core a large percentage of business is from walk-in traffic. The business and tourist customers tend to select a restaurant from touring the area and accessibility. Mumbo Jumbo was situated on a cross street behind the main street.

Lesson Learned: Although being situated on a main street is not as key in the Midtown district, we will ensure that visibility is part of our site selection criteria. In addition, we will use signage and exterior décor as means to attract customers and get noticed.

In all, this restaurant was a staple in Atlanta's downtown core for over 10 years, but key restaurant disciplines (Location, Customer Segment, Visibility) came back to hurt them as the economic climate changed.

Market Analysis Conclusion:

At the end of the day, everyone that sells prepared meals in this district is a Zara competitor, because we all compete for the same home meal replacement dollar. However, there are two segments of the restaurant industry that are our main competition: the casual dining restaurant and the fine dining value restaurant.

So, if the food and service is better at a fine dining restaurant than a casual restaurant, but price has become a factor as a result of the economic turns, where is a customer more likely to go?

There is no absolute answer to the question, but the solution is to deliver the best food at the best price with the highest level of service in one establishment. This is the very definition of value and the concept at the heart of Zara's business model.

Marketing Strategy

Zara Restaurant & Lounge's Marketing strategy will be to promote our electric food, superior service, and exciting concepts to draw in the local repeat customers. Marketing initiatives will concentrate on the following:

Building and Signage:
The most important Marketing tool that we have is the exterior of our building, and our new sign. We budgeted a great deal into the renovations and decor to generate the aesthetic appeal of Zara. See attached Logo and Web design.

Customer Service:
In our years within the restaurant industry, customer service has always been the major draw for the dining clientele. Food and atmosphere is far out-shadowed by superior customer service that turns a new customer into a repeat customer.

Management will demand the wait-staff provide the very best in quality services to the customer, making certain that they are content and satisfied with their dining experience. Wait-staff are thoroughly trained, and every 90 days they undergo a performance appraisal. This is part of our Employee Manual, and Operations Manual guide.

Advertising and Promotion:
Our Advertising Plan and media schedule call for targeting customers directly through local publications aimed at , respectively, singles, couples, and destination customers.

Management recognizes the key to success at this time of initial opening is extensive media promotion. This must be done aggressively in order to accomplish our service goals. A healthy budget is allocated for the first year. A primary part of the budget is allocated to create the media and customer buzz for the month prior to opening and the next three months after the grand opening. The full Marketing program is as follows:.

Media Objectives and Strategy:
Establish our image as a unique Midtown restaurant with great service, value, and great food served in an eclectic atmosphere. We will maximize efficiency in the selection and scheduling of advertisements by:

  • Selecting primary business publications with high specific market penetration, using The Creative Loafing Dining Section, The Atlanta Journal Constitution, Atlanta City Search, and Social Diva, which all reach our targeted demographics.
  • Scheduling adequate frequency of ads to impact market with menu items and promotions.
  • Where possible, positioning advertisements in or near entertainment/food related editorial.
  • Redirecting customers to our website to register for upcoming functions, VIP lists, reservations, and flash media promotions.
  • Maximizing ad life with monthly and weekly publications.

Working with The Reynolds Group Media Co. (Zara Advisory Board), we will develop an advertising campaign built around our Zara Diner theme, menu offering, location, and decor. We will support this plan with ads that reinforce the Zara dining concept.

Additionally, we will develop a consistent reach and frequency throughout the year, targeting each specific customer segment within a five-mile radius, and new 'suburbanites,' who still appreciate in-town dining.

Promotional Campaign:
The best way to reach our potential customers is to develop an intense advertising campaign promoting our Zara concept of "Spice of Life." In addition to standard advertising practices, we will gain considerable recognition through newspapers, newsletters and public announcements. Consumers will be encouraged to visit our website to be greeted with a flash media intro that highlights the restaurant, past happenings, upcoming attractions and our dynamic menu.

Our periodic customer surveys and weekly menu item sales evaluations will help us to understand what advertising is working and what is not; basically, who we are reaching. Our goal is to understand our customer, measure the success of our direct marketing and media activities, and redirect advertising as effectively as possible.

Publicity Strategy:
Working with The Reynolds Group, Zara will focus on the following publicity strategies:

  • Develop a sustained public relations effort, with ongoing contact between key editors and top-level personnel at local dining publications.
  • Develop a regular and consistent package update program for the major target media, keeping key editors abreast of all new promotions, and menu introductions.
  • Establish contact with editorial staff for the purpose of being included in entertainment "round-ups"--product comparisons in dining publications and the local papers.
  • Produce a complete Zara Restaurant history and menu offering piece to be used as the primary public relations tool for all target media editorial contact. This will also be effective for inclusion in press kits.

Press Release/Grand Opening: Zara Restaurant will release a series of press releases on the Grand opening.

Editorial Visitation: Leading up to the Grand Opening, and over the first 6 months of operations, we will invite the most influential reporters and editors from all local publications to Zara Restaurant in order to evaluate our menu, service, and atmosphere.

Publicity Revenues: We anticipate at least 10% of our annual sales will be generated directly from our publicity. A full media kit will be sent to all local publications, and releases on new menu items will be made monthly.

Community: Zara will look for key opportunities to pair with local community development organizations and radio stations to interface with our customers. We will continually look for local community programs in which we can participate, in order to better our community, and give something back.

Marketing Program

In line with our Marketing strategy, we will employ three different marketing tactics to increase customer awareness of Zara: In-Restaurant Marketing, Public Relations Marketing, and Media Marketing. Our most important tactic will be word-of-mouth/in-restaurant marketing. This will be by far the cheapest and most effective of our marketing programs.

Word-of-mouth/In-Restaurant Marketing

  • Restaurant Night:  Every first Monday of the quarter, we will have a special evening for restaurant people. A perfect night for the local area's restaurant owners, chefs and staff to get together to discuss the market and food trends, and possible Co-op efforts to promote the Midtown district. This is not a conflict of interest, it is an effort to increase visibility and patronage across the Midtown district. We will also invite the Midtown Alliance committee for their participation.

  • Monthly Dating Connection: With the increasing appeal of Internet and speed dating, the restaurant will offer a monthly dating night. In addition to food and beverages, customers can choose from an array of dating packages up for auction.

  • Wait Area Marketing: Wait staff will service appetizers to customers waiting to be seated or on the wait list.

  • Live Entertainment parties
  • Special Events
  • Valentine's Day
  • Zara Halloween Masquerade party
  • Wine tasting weekend
  • New Year's Eve party

Public Relations Marketing

  • Georgia Hospitality & Tourism V.I.P. Party: We will host a V.I.P. Dinner before the 'Grand Opening.' This will serve the dual purpose of training our staff and introducing ourselves to the community. The list of individuals we will invite comes from the Chamber of Commerce, Georgia Hospitality & Tourism, and Midtown Development group. We want their full committment to the restaurant to draw the tourist dollars.

  • Critics' Choice: Prior to the Grand Opening there will be two preliminary parties catering to the Media and Critics community. We will encourage the media and restaurant critics to meet at the restaurant and review the decor, service and food. This will be a preliminary review, where we will consider constructive input to make minor revisions prior to the true Grand Opening. This initial review and input will give critics and media commentors a stake in Zara's success, through their contributions to the final design.

  • Brochures: Make a brochure for the in-town hotels and business establishments to provide to their guests and staff, containing interior pictures of our restaurant, menus and prices.

  • Government Relations: There are several Government offices in the Midtown/Downtown area. We will approach them to cater business luncheons and private functions. This will offer us higher visibility for future functions and community events. Word-of-mouth referral is very powerful and particularly amongst the business community.
  • Private Functions: Target marketing to businesses for regular business lunch and dinner entertaining, and private functions.

Media Marketing

  • Newspaper campaign: A very targeted media campaign to obtain featured articles about the restaurant in their Living, Entertainment and Dining segments. Notices of all live entertainment segments and special features will be posted to local newspapers' calendar announcements.

  • Restaurant and Special Events Website: We have contracted with local design teams to deliver a high-quality, navigable, constantly updated website.

  • Media Relations: Several media relations teams will be utilized to market the Restaurant. Social Diva and Green Frog are two media companies we will utilize for media relations. Both companies have an insightful presence and connection with our target market.

  • Billboard Advertisement: One month prior to the opening, distinct billboard ads will advertise the launch of the Restaurant.

  • Inner & Outer City Marketing: We will budget to attract customers from the suburbs.

Sales Strategy

Our strategy is simple: we intend to succeed by giving our customers a combination of delicious and interesting food in an appealing environment, with excellent customer service, whether on their first visit or their hundredth.

Our marketing strategies are designed to get critics and initial customers into our doors. Our sales strategies must take the next step and encourage customers to become repeat customers, and to tell all their friends and acquaintances about the great experiences they just had at Zara.

New restaurants often make one of two mistakes: they are unprepared or underprepared for opening, and initial poor service, speed, or quality discourages customers from returning, or they spend all of their efforts at opening, and are unable to maintain the initial quality customers expect on return visits, decreasing word of mouth advertising and leading to poor revenues.

Zara's sales strategy requires consistently high quality food, service, speed, and atmosphere. We can accomplish this by:

  • Hiring employees who genuinely enjoy their jobs and appreciate Zara's unique offerings
  • Continually assessing the quality of all aspects mentioned above, and immediately addressing any problems
  • Interacting with our customers personally, so they know that their feedback goes directly to the owners 
  • Evaluating food choices for popularity, and keeping favorites on the menu as we rotate seasonal foods and specials

Sales Forecast

The following sales graph is based on first year start-up estimates only. We anticipate that the business will not be at full operating capacity until the sixth month of operations. This is due to the competitive nature of the market and existing customer loyalty. All factors governing our sales progress are outlined below in the Important Assumptions section.

Our sales forecasts for years 3 through 5 are very conservative, compared to industry standard growth rates. (See Ratios table for comparisons.)

Although we hope to do catering for local businesses and government offices with time, we will insist on payment at delivery - we will not sell on credit.

Sales Forecast
Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4 Year 5
Total Sales Food $853,595 $959,047 $1,006,999 $1,047,279 $1,089,170
Total Sales Bar/Beverages $220,174 $252,041 $272,204 $293,981 $317,499
Other $0 $0 $0 $0 $0
Total Sales $1,073,769 $1,211,088 $1,279,204 $1,341,260 $1,406,670
Direct Cost of Sales Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4 Year 5
Total Cost of Sales: Food $298,758 $322,240 $329,289 $336,048 $342,762
Total Cost of Sales: Bar/Beverages $72,657 $76,167 $77,687 $79,228 $80,835
Other $0 $0 $0 $0 $0
Subtotal Direct Cost of Sales $371,416 $398,407 $406,976 $415,276 $423,597


The following Milestones table lists important business milestones, with dates and managers in charge of each deliverable. The milestone schedule indicates our emphasis on planning and managing the details.


Milestone Start Date End Date Budget Manager Department
Engage Restaurant Consulting Firm 7/31/2004 7/31/2004 $0 Alex/Peter Owners
Site Selection 9/8/2004 9/29/2004 $0 Alex/R.Shafer Consultant
Final Restaurant Location Approved 9/30/2004 10/1/2004 $0 Alex/Peter Owners
Investor Finance Phase 8/22/2004 10/22/2004 $0 Alex Owners
Investor Capital Secured 10/27/2004 10/27/2004 $0 Alex Owners
Investor Partnership LLC Formed 10/28/2004 10/31/2004 $0 S. Hollier Legal
Interview for Construction Team 10/28/2004 11/3/2004 $0 Alex Owners
Recruit Chef (Equity Partner) 10/28/2004 11/14/2004 $0 Alex/Peter Owners
Receive Final Contractor Bids 11/4/2004 11/17/2004 $0 Peter Owner
Construction Budget Approved 11/19/2004 11/19/2004 $0 Alex/Peter Owners
Secured SBA Loan 11/1/2004 11/21/2004 $0 Alex/Peter Owners
Hire Restaurant Architect 11/20/2004 11/21/2004 $0 Alex/Peter Owners
Hire Interior Design Firm 11/20/2004 11/21/2004 $0 Alex/Peter Owners
Hire Kitchen Engineer 11/20/2004 11/21/2004 $0 Alex/Peter Owners
Hire General Contractor 11/20/2004 11/21/2004 $0 Alex/Peter Owners
Finalize Chef Partnership 11/15/2004 11/21/2004 $0 S. Hollier Legal
Construction Project Kickoff 11/24/2004 11/24/2004 $0 Contractor A Gen. Contractor
Finalize Lease Holder Budget 11/24/2004 11/27/2004 $0 Alex/Peter Owners
Finalize Lease 11/28/2004 11/28/2004 $0 R. Shafer Consultants
Restaurant Design Complete 11/25/2004 12/12/2004 $0 Contractor X Design Contract
Interior Design Complete 11/25/2004 12/12/2004 $0 Contractor Y Design Contract
Kitchen Design Complete 11/25/2004 12/12/2004 $0 Contractor Z Design Contract
Restaurant Opening Date Approved 12/15/2004 12/15/2004 $0 Alex/Peter Owners
Finalize Menu & Wine Selection 11/21/2004 12/15/2004 $0 Chef/Peter Kitchen/Owner
Media Plan Review 12/15/2004 12/19/2004 $0 Alex/M.Zimm PR Marketing
Apply for Liquor License 12/15/2004 12/19/2004 $0 Alex/S.Hollier Owner/Legal
Apply for Construction Permit 12/15/2004 12/19/2004 $0 Contractor A Gen. Contractor
Submit Kitchen Plan for Approval 12/15/2004 12/19/2004 $0 Contractor Z Design Contract
Board of Health Approval for Kitchen 12/29/2004 1/31/2005 $0 Board City
Liquor License Approved 12/29/2004 1/31/2005 $0 Board City
Architect Review Board Approval 12/29/2004 1/31/2005 $0 Contractor X Design Contract
Corporate Brochure 2/2/2005 2/13/2005 $0 M.Zimmerman PR Marketing
Review Business & Marketing Plan 3/1/2005 3/5/2005 $0 Alex/Peter Owners
Launch Zara Website 3/15/2005 3/15/2005 $0 Alex Media Marketing
Order Kitchen Equipment 2/1/2005 3/20/2005 $0 Alex/Peter Owners
Order Restaurant/Lounge Furniture 2/2/2005 3/20/2005 $0 Alex/Peter Owners
Order Office Furniture & Supplies 2/2/2005 3/20/2005 $0 Alex/Peter Owners
Business & Marketing Plan Review 4/26/2005 4/30/2005 $0 Alex/Peter Owners
PR/Media Advertising (Phase 1) 5/1/2005 5/15/2005 $0 M.Zimmerman PR Marketing
Production and Completion of Menus 5/5/2005 5/17/2005 $0 Chef/Peter Kitchen/Owner
Construction of Restaurant 2/2/2005 5/20/2005 $0 Contractor A Gen. Contractor
Pre-Opening of Zara Restaurant 5/24/2005 5/24/2005 $0 Alex/Peter Owners
Employee Training (Phase 1) 5/18/2005 5/24/2005 $0 Chef/Peter Kitchen/Owner
Wine Class for Employees (Phase 1) 5/18/2005 5/24/2005 $0 Peter Wine Distributor
Critics' Choice VIP Party 5/25/2005 5/26/2005 $0 M.Zimmerman PR Marketing
Final Construction Punch Out 5/21/2005 5/28/2005 $0 Contractor A Gen. Contractor
Restaurant Revisions 5/27/2005 6/2/2005 $0 Alex/Peter Owners
Employee Training (Phase 2) 5/27/2005 6/2/2005 $0 Chef/Peter Kitchen/Owner
Wine Class for Employees (Phase 2) 5/27/2005 6/2/2005 $0 Peter Wine Distributor
Grand Opening of Fusion Restaurant 6/3/2005 6/3/2005 $0 Alex/Peter Owners
VIP Party 1 6/3/2005 6/3/2005 $0 M.Zimmerman PR Marketing
VIP Party 2 6/4/2005 6/4/2005 $0 M.Zimmerman PR Marketing
Web Site & E-Mail Media Launch 5/1/2005 6/5/2005 $0 Alex Media Marketing
General Public Opening 6/5/2005 6/5/2005 $0 Alex/Peter Owners
Launch 30-Day Grand Opening 5/1/2005 6/5/2005 $0 M.Zimmerman PR Marketing
PR/Media Advertising (Phase 2) 6/1/2005 6/14/2005 $0 Alex PR Marketing
Business & Marketing Plan Review 7/5/2005 7/9/2005 $0 Alex/Peter Owners
Business & Marketing Plan Review 8/2/2005 8/6/2005 $0 Alex/Peter Owners
Update Brochure 8/2/2005 8/13/2005 $0 Alex Media Marketing
Direct Mail 8/16/2005 8/16/2005 $0 Alex Media Marketing
Advertising (Phase 3) 9/1/2005 9/15/2005 $0 M.Zimmerman PR Marketing
Zara Masquerade Party 10/31/2005 10/31/2005 $0 M.Zimmerman PR Marketing
Direct Mail 11/1/2005 11/1/2005 $0 Alex Media Marketing
New Corporate Accounts (5) 9/1/2005 11/1/2005 $0 Zander/Peter Owners
Advertising (Phase 4) 11/15/2005 11/19/2005 $0 M.Zimmerman PR Marketing
Advertising (Phase 5) 12/15/2005 12/30/2005 $0 M.Zimmerman PR Marketing
Zara New Year's Party 12/20/2005 1/1/2006 $0 M.Zimmerman PR Marketing
Totals $0

Get the Bplans newsletter:

Expert business tips and advice delivered weekly.