Say Hello to Fine-Casual Restaurant Chains
Posted: Apr. 30, 2018
You may remember when McDonald’s replaced its vinyl booths with more contemporary seating. Plastic décor was stripped in exchange for wood, brick, and clean, modern lines. The new look is more reminiscent of a sushi restaurant than a fast-food burger chain, even though the prices remain the same. The redesign appeals to younger consumers and professionals and was the precursor to fine-casual dining, which recognizes customers’ desire for a well-rounded dining experience that is affordable.
In rapid succession, the fine-casual phenomenon grew from influencing design to food quality to customer service, and it’s now exploding across the restaurant industry. It can be said that fine-casual dining is replacing cheap fast-food options across the country. These restaurants are so popular because they tap into the culture of their local communities, a concept that deeply contrasts that of traditional restaurant chains.
What defines a fine-casual restaurant?
These elements are the same across the board:
- Not dirt cheap but affordable, with meals priced between $10 and $30
- High-quality, organic, or locally farmed foods are sourced
- A unique concept combined with special interior design
- Top-quality customer service
- One-of-a-kind menu
A considerable number of fine-casual restaurants offer:
- A special selection of beers, liquors, or wine
- Live entertainment
- Interactive elements, like bocce lawns, Jenga sets, or board games
In sum, fast-casual dining offers customers a complete experience for a reasonable price. Plus, these places don’t have the corporate vibe that chains can sometimes give off. They can quickly become the new favorite watering holes for younger working people who want a great place to meet friends, without going over budget.
It isn’t surprising that most chains that subscribe to the fine-casual model are owned and operated by local restaurateurs. Part of their success comes from giving locals what they want—whether that’s the best locally brewed coffee or décor made by local artisans.
Here is a look at some fine-casual leaders and how they are redefining the chain-restaurant model.
Crack Shack, a recent chain restaurant in California, hit a home run with its first restaurant opening; two more locations are opening this year. The menu revolves around reinvented fried chicken dishes that use high-quality ingredients—a beloved food that customers cannot get enough of. Complete meals are in the mid-$20 range. Their latest shop is in a renovated shed, a popular backdrop for social media photos. The owners of Crack Shack embrace the fine-casual concept in all avenues, offering a wide selection of craft beers and sets of bocce balls to play on the property.
Custom Burger Chains
There are too many custom burger chains that adhere to the principles of fine casual to point out only one, and so custom burger chains are getting lumped into one group. Whether it’s Kush or Lokal in Miami or The Counter chain from LA, these burger restaurants are offering more than just extra cheese. One key point of differentiation from traditional fast-food burger chains is the use of high-grade beef. Wagyu beef, albeit delicious, is considered passé. These custom-order burger brands are instead digging into their local farm industry to offer customers the freshest patties possible.
Fine-casual restaurants are finding success with high performing mobile restaurant point-of-sale systems.
Posted: Apr. 30, 2018 | Written By: Emma Alois
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