Have you ever gone into a restaurant that doesn't seem to have a clear identity? Are they Italian or Mediterranean? Spanish? Latin? Global? Is the menu so large and cumbersome because the restaurant is trying to please everyone or just so unwieldy that you can't decide what to order? Did you take a Mexican restaurant and just change the tables and now are trying to look Asian? Are you wanting to be a fine dining restaurant but haven't budgeted for quality silverware and linens?
Every restaurant needs to have an identity.
This is why you often see an "About" page on restaurant websites. Not only might it tell some history of the restaurant, chef, or owners, but often it includes the philosophy or atmosphere of the restaurant. These are often drawn from Mission and Vision Statements and then expanded upon in more detail about ingredient sourcing, menu selection, and service goals.
Identity is far reaching and permeates all aspects of the business. It will also be reflected in your restaurant's design, logo, even down to the font on the menu.
Here are some things to consider when establishing your restaurant's identity.
Can you convey it in a single sentence? Restaurants are like every business. They need to be able to be described to someone in a short elevator pitch of one sentence or no more than 30 to 60 seconds. If you have trouble describing what your restaurant's menu and philosophy are, then it leads to confusion for your staff and your customers as well.
How do you sound in your message? This is often called your "voice". Using the casual restaurant example, having a very formal website with hoity toity language would again be in conflict with a casual setting. Instead, you should have a relaxed, friendly sound in how you "talk" to your customers. A Western style steakhouse might describe things with cowboy slang, for instance. This conveys a sense of nostalgic fun.
Carefully thinking out a your restaurant's identity and how it relates to every aspect of your business is important for conveying a message to staff and customers. Take the time to plan it out carefully.