With the growing desire for quick, inexpensive, and higher-quality food, establishments such as Chipotle Mexican Grill and Panera Bread are favorable alternatives to more traditional fast-food establishments and casual restaurants. But as more Millennials enter the work force and continue to drive the economy, we are seeing a growing trend where chain restaurants are being ignored for more unique experiences.
Enter Fast-Fine Dining. Where fast-casual places offer a higher quality selection of made-to-order food, fast-fine offers the atmosphere and quality of a higher-end establishment, without the operating costs and time. This makes for an accessible, flexible dining experience to be kept in the #hashtags of many Instagrammable photos.
In the past, consumers chose between quality and time. Fast-casual made strides towards changing that, much to the public’s satisfaction.
“As a society, we are speeding up and moving toward speed- oriented food, which was fast food,” says Jonathan Maze, senior financial editor for Nation’s Restaurant News. “Now, we go to fast-casual restaurants.” –Washington Post
Most look to fast casual as the go-to spot for quick lunch breaks, and convenient alternatives when cooking isn’t always possible. Fast-fine dining offers the same convenience but can also serve as a choice spot for a group outing or a low-key date night, as the high quality of the meals cater to refined palates.
According to Skift Table , a popular newsletter that documents trends in the restaurant industry, “data from market research firm Mintel indicates that 69 percent of consumers want to see more restaurants with a casual atmosphere but with high-quality food.”
When consumers are presented with a gourmet meal, made with high-quality ingredients, and served in a fun, casual setting, it leaves an impression. It’s also likely documented on social media, complete with location and hashtags leading others to check it out for themselves. Fast-fine dining establishments can expect to generate more interest through social media and word-of-mouth on average than fast-casual, since the menu and atmosphere is much more unique.
It takes a lot of time, manpower, and ingredients to keep an upscale restaurant running. All these factors add up and require bigger startup costs and higher menu prices. Fast-fine dining slashes the cost to both restaurant owners and patrons.
- Smaller menu selection. Traditional restaurants offer larger menus, requiring a variety of different foods be kept on-hand, many of which can go uneaten. By narrowing down the menu to include the Chef’s top selections for the evening, much less food is wasted, and larger batches can be prepared at a time, further cutting back on time spent creating individual dishes. Investing in a point of sale system will further decrease waste while increasing productivity and profit.
- Less manpower. While ordering at a counter doesn’t seem to go hand-in-hand with gourmet food, the cost of waitstaff adds up. Allowing patrons to order at a counter, carry their own food, and choose which table to sit at slashes the number of staff required to sustain the business. Consider also self-service kiosk stations for additional increased front-of-house efficiency.
- Having an expedited process means more customers can be served in the same amount of time. This can directly affect how much traffic is brought in, and in turn, how much profit is generated.
Food for Thought
Restaurant owners should look to see a more pronounced shift towards fast-fine dining this year, as consumers have less expendable time and turn to more convenient take-out options. A need for high-quality, faster options is already prevalent, and is only growing. Fast-fine dining is being recognized as a welcome alternative to both casual and fast-food places.