Opening a restaurant involves some heavy decision-making, and one thing that must be given a great deal of time and thought is the theme. It will have a major influence on how successful your restaurant becomes. Your chosen theme will attract or drive away customers and even change what foods you can put on your menu.

The question then becomes: How do you select a restaurant theme? You can begin by learning about the most popular ones right now. See which of them match the vibe and food style you're looking for, and everything should fall into place.

1. Opt for a Smaller Cafe

If you're new to the restaurant business, it may be wise to consider going with a smaller cafe. You can start out with a standard selection of food and drinks, while still giving it your own personalized twist. Cafes have a relaxing atmosphere that encourages hanging out. You can nail down a theme while playing around with what customers can expect from your menu.

2. Consider Fast Food

Fast food is another option where the theme is super important. If you open a fast food location, you'll most likely partner with a well-known chain brand. That takes all the work out of choosing the theme, since the parent company will have all the details laid out for you.

3. Invest in Hotel Space

When you picture your restaurant, you may imagine a typical standalone building. While that's always an option, you may not need to worry about saving for all that construction. Hotels are always looking for restaurants that will rent out space in their buildings. The ease of dining attracts more guests, and restaurant owners only have to worry about paying rent.

You won't be limited in your themes, either. While many hotels have five-star restaurants, you can also start a family restaurant in a hotel too. Whatever you feel like your theme or food should be, you can make it work with the right hotel.

4. Aim for a Family Setting

There's a lot to be said for family-friendly restaurants, especially when you're talking about themes. The main goal for these establishments is to serve food the whole family can enjoy while still being a fun place for kids. That means table activities, fun decorations and possibly even an arcade by the front door.

If you're unsure about what theme you want, a family-friendly setting is always a good option.

5. Drive a Food Truck

Food trucks have become a popular way for people in the restaurant business to start a new venture without investing in anything brick and mortar. Consumers want food trucks to be where they're going to hang out. That means you could potentially conduct business at places like fairs, sporting events and even by the beach.

Another great thing about food trucks is that you can make one with any theme. Think about where you'll park and what food people will want. You could run a standard burger truck, focus solely on desserts or even just serve adult beverages.

You won't need to offer a full menu with a food truck if you don't want to. Match the items you wish to serve with a fun theme that won't seem out of place in your truck's location.

6. Construct a Buffet

When a restaurant offers buffet-style dining, that's typically the whole theme. Casual themes work best with buffets, since the idea of serving yourself is much more laid back than a traditional restaurant with waitstaff.

You can also make a buffet-style restaurant work with different themes, as long as they're in line with the casual vibe. Food should be comforting and easy, like mac and cheese or fried chicken.

Look into your location before opening a buffet. Vacation spots or family locales would more naturally fit with the buffet experience than a place surrounded by five-star dining or in a small town.

7. Create a Fine-Dining Experience

Is a five-star restaurant in your future? It will have a completely different theme option. You can go minimalist in your interior design and feature materials that evoke elegance. Natural woods or even marble would make your restaurant theme strikingly gorgeous without taking away from the food.

8. Think About Fast Casual

The world of fast-casual dining is still relatively new, but it's taken off quickly. Restaurants like Panera are where guests can go to eat a good meal while still being able to leave whenever they'd like.

Themes that work with fast-casual dining settings would be anything that relaxes. Think soothing or calming color hues, lots of potted plants and furniture you'd find in a home or coffee shop.

With the right location, your future fast-casual restaurant will naturally pull itself together. Serve foods like coffee, snacks and salads that won't require the prep or dining of full meals like steaks or salmon.

The Theme's the Thing

Selecting the right theme for your restaurant is crucial. It will help you decide what food to serve and who your consumer base is. Take your time when deciding on a theme, and consider your location as well. You'll find the right one for your business and hit the ground running before your first customer ever arrives.