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[Excerpt] I like to play a game with my restaurant development students that I call "Guess the Concept." I show them a picture of an unidentified restaurant's exterior and they have to decide what the restaurant serves and at what price point. They've gotten pretty good at it because what a restaurant looks like from the outside can offer dozens of clues about what is happening on the inside. Humans are visual creatures. Because we rely so heavily on sight to make sense of the world, we are far more likely to believe what we see with our own eyes than things we find out from other sources. While you may be putting a lot of energy into your restaurant's Web site or advertising or sponsoring the local Little League team — all of which are worthy efforts that you should certainly continue to do — your customers are likely to make the final decision to walk in your door based on how your operation looks from the outside. What clues does your restaurant provide to prospective customers? And are those the clues you actually want to be giving?


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