November 02, 2018

Restaurants and Bars Combine for “Fine-Casual” Dining

As the great recession brought down spending at lavish restaurants, a tasty, new hybrid rose up in the food-service industry. In order to adapt to customers’ hunger for new types of cuisine that also accommodated their demand for swift convenience, “Fine-Casual” establishments have formed. The term, coined by Shake Shack founder Danny Meyer, merges the speed and ease of fast-casual with a chef-driven menu and other upscale touches, such as a bar and entertainment, that elevate the experience.

And a fresh experience is what has drawn the people’s business, especially millennials, the largest living generation. Millennials are also the largest demographic that eats their meals in restaurants. They prefer the chic yet easy going style afforded by Fine-Casual restaurants and are a healthy part of the reason why this unique trend is growing.

A Banquet of Profitability

In addition to their millennial appeal, Fine-Casual restaurants have found paths to profitability by utilizing several other factors. Ironically, each of the following are all casually simplistic: 

  • Space – Because of their laidback tone, Fine-Casual restaurants are able to operate in smaller spaces than traditional high-end eateries. Expensive grand dining areas can be replaced by more eclectic, cost effective set ups. Less space equals less rent. 
  • Service – With a smaller venue, Fine-Casual restaurants are able to have customers order and pay right at the counter. This saves money on wait staff, bus people and runners. It also keeps the influx of customers running smoothly. 
  • Time – Through the implementation of one-page menus listing a limited amount of choices, customers can order and receive their meals in a fast, efficient manner. And by saving on the expenses of a wait staff, Fine-Casual restaurants can invest in high quality, yet easy-to-prepare food such as innovative burgers, pizzas, sandwiches and salads.  
  • Bars – A big component that advances a fast-serving restaurant up to Fine-Casual is the serving of alcohol. Having a bar enables venues to charge a bit more for wine and specialty drinks which can help overall profitability.  

An Entertaining Experience

Another aspect that has folks flocking to Fine-Casual restaurants is the infusion of in-house live entertainment. Because they are not part of a franchise, owners have the freedom to book talent such as musicians and other artists to perform special engagements. To further facilitate this type of attraction, ProSight provides an exclusive Performers Endorsement, which affords additional insured status to performers while on the insured’s premises, as well as up to $2,500 for performer’s personal property.

Fine-Casual restaurant owners also are able to set up interactive elements for their customers like bocce lawns, Jenga sets, and more. The goal is to create a unique environment that invites people in to stay for a while because the longer they stay, the more food and beverages they are likely to order.

Hungry for More

The Fine-Casual business has seen sales increase between 10 and 11% annually since 2011. That trend is expected to continue as current research has shown that 69% of consumers want to see more restaurants with relaxed atmospheres and high-quality food, and are willing to pay extra for it. Even as rents and labor costs rise, the Fine-Casual system is poised to remain successful. Restaurant owners can confidently raise a glass at their laidback bar to both savings and profits. 

Tony Ciofani, Niche President for Consumer Services