Sometimes it is best to keep your opinions to yourself – I am not of this school of thought. If you have an opinion (on something important) then you should voice it (even if no one is that interested).
I read the restaurant industry trade titles religiously, which I suppose makes me a little bit sad, what I have noticed recently is the overuse and misuse of the word “concept”. The word has become a plague within the industry press, it crops up everywhere and is almost always used incorrectly. So I thought I’d write to Restaurant Magazine and tell them off!
For my troubles Restaurant Magazine made me Star Letter of the Month and sent me a bottle of whisky (thanks chaps). However I’m not sure whether they have heeded my point as the word concept is still dotted arbitrarily through this month’s issue.
Why is it that today a restaurant can no longer just be that, a restaurant? The word restaurant within the industry press is now almost always followed with the word “concept”. What annoys me about this is, along with the ubiquity of its usage is the fact that it is incorrect.
The definition of concept is as follows “an abstract idea, or a general notion” thus when something becomes real, a restaurant with tables, a
kitchen, staff etc. it is no longer a concept or an idea – It is a restaurant. A concept car for example is not the version that ends up in the show room on the A40 for a member of the public to buy but is produced as an experimental model to test the viability of innovative design features – it is in short the idea of a car (you could I suppose argue that even this isn’t 100% correct usage as there is nothing abstract about a vehicle that exists whether it’s the production model or not).
In your interview with Alan Yau (August 2012), you went concept crazy. Wagamama was a concept, Hakkasan a concept, Yauatcha a concept – however on the next page we hear that Mr Yau himself is sceptical of the notion of concept believing that he has only really created one (Wagamama), again as soon as the first restaurant was built it was no longer a concept, really what Mr Yau is talking about is the concept behind the restaurant.
In the same issue we are also told that Nathan Outlaw is bringing “the second version of his Seafood & Grill concept” to London (very exciting news), Mr Outlaw strikes me as being a no nonsense kind of chap, surely he is simply opening a second outpost of his successful Seafood &
Grill a la Carte Restaurant (as it is named on his website) to the Capitol (and the capital)? Why is it all of a sudden a concept?
In short can we quit with the concept unless it truly is?