Friday, October 29, 2010

What the hell is 'fast casual,' anyway?

Posted By on Fri, Oct 29, 2010 at 3:26 PM

click to enlarge New Denny's concept: service out, counters in
  • New Denny's concept: service out, counters in

Yesterday, the Spartanburg, South-Carolina-based Denny's restaurant chain opened its first fast-casual unit in Orange, California. The restaurant's corporate office describes this new restaurant concept, called Denny's Cafe, as "a smaller version of the traditional Denny's experience that caters to guests with a more streamlined menu, counter service ordering and a smaller real estate footprint."

So what exactly is the definition of a fast-casual restaurant?



By most definitions in the restaurant industry, it's a venue with better

food and ambience than a traditional fast-food restaurant, with a lower

check average than full-service restaurants (in the $8-$15 range), but

without full table service. And it's supposed to be the next big trend

in American dining.

Last month, Nation's Restaurant News

announced that the Gordon Biersch Restaurant Group -- which operates

the Gordon Biersch restaurant in Kansas City's Power & Light

District -- was opening its own fast-casual tavern concept with an $11

check average.

Which restaurant chains will hop on this concept next? Kansas City-based Applebee's? Houlihan's? And will waiters and waitresses be forced to become, essentially, carhops?

(Image via Flickr: Eliot & Jenni)


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