Inspired by the success of fast-casual restaurants, many restaurateurs are exploring a new type of concept, known as fast-fine or fine-casual dining. The goal in this environment is to serve high-quality food at a lower cost and with faster service.
Without reservations, high-ticket items or full table service, the eating experience is more accessible to diners who are looking to save time and money. But they can still enjoy a high-quality, well-made meal—in some cases, they can even taste the creations of celebrity chefs, who are getting involved in fast-fine operations as a way to offer high-end dining to the masses.
One of the hallmarks of fast-fine menus is unique ingredients, which are often locally sourced. Patrons may be more willing to order a trendy dish they’ve never tried before when it’s more affordable. Breakfast foods with international flair are among the National Restaurant Association’s menu trends for 2018, and this Open-Faced Turkey Chorizo Burger topped with an egg brings Mexican flavor to a familiar format.
Many fast-fine chefs are also committed to health and sustainability, using humanely raised, all-natural, grass-fed, gluten-free and antibiotic-free proteins. In this Italian Turkey Flatbread, house-made jardiniera and marinated onions come together with all-natural turkey breast, while Butterball’s line of no-antibiotics-ever turkey offers an array of all-natural turkey products, raised on local family-owned farms and fed an all-vegetarian diet.
So how can operators maintain this level of quality and still reduce prices? Lower operating costs make the fast-fine approach viable from a business standpoint. Rewards Network reported that the start-up costs for a quick-service restaurant can be 10 times less than those in fine dining.
Counter service also requires fewer employees, who don’t need to be as skilled or receive as much training as full-service staff, which helps mitigate labor expenses. And although each customer has a modest check average, shorter visits make it possible to get more people in and out the door.
Whether you’re part of this segment or learning about it for the first time, it’s wise to take note of the reasons it’s growing. Let us know what you think of fast-fine options on Facebook and LinkedIn, and head to our Resource Center for more industry news.
Fast Casual vs. Fast Fine Dining Trends, Restaurant Insider, August 2017.
Griffith, Matthew. How “Fine Casual” Restaurants Are Breaking Out Big, Rewards Network, October 2016.
Farkas, David. Fine Dining Takes on Fast Casual, Food Fanatics, summer 2016.
Strong, Andrea. The Way To Save The Restaurant Industry? Put The Fast In Fine Dining., Food Republic, January 2017.
Surowiecki, James. Fast-Fine Dining Is the New Restaurant Frontier, Bon Appétit, October 2017.
Pomranz, Mike. Here Are the Top Menu Trends for 2018, According to the National Restaurant Association, Food & Wine, December 2017.