Full-Service Casual Concepts Look to Fast-Casual Spinoffs and Experiments

Full-Service Casual Concepts Look to Fast-Casual Spinoffs and Experiments


Nation’s Restaurant News recently published a case study of five casual dining concepts transitioning into the fast-casual sector: Red Robin Gourmet Burgers, Inc., Denny’s, Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill & Bar, Famous Dave’s and Red Lobster.

Citing shifting consumer needs and a “rocky casual-dining climate,” a fast-casual is an increasingly popular strategy for “brands looking to gain incremental traffic, reach a new customer base or reduce the costs of development and labor.”

With around 25% of casual diners reporting a drop in dining out — and 40% of that group opting for fast-casual instead — casual dining chains would do well to reverse that trend by entering the fast-casual market themselves.

Consumer expectations have risen thanks to the likes of Chipotle, Five Guys and Smashburger (and other “better burgers”), thus making the fast move isn’t a guarantee of success without unless you “really deliver on that great food and experience.”

Red Robin has launched Burger Works with greater ordering flexibility; Famous Dave’s debuted a fast-casual BBQ Shack; Denny’s doubled up with Fresh Express and All Nighter (the latter targeted to college campuses); and both Applebee’s and Red Lobster now offer fast lunch services (“Express Lunch” and “Seaside Express,” respectively.

Read the full article for more details.

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