Article contributed by Britni Flores, Studio McCormack
The Fast Casual segment in the restaurant industry remains hot and continues to grow. Even casual chain restaurants are trying their hand in this market, adapting their concept to this model. It seems while the “fast-casual” concept was a bridge between fast-food and casual dining, there now may be a bridge being built between fast-casual and casual dining concepts.
Owners and Operators are starting to blur the lines as to what the definition of the fast-casual dining experience is. While the traditional model leaves the guest on their own after food is picked up or brought to the table, it seems there’s added service being added to the equation. More personalized service is being incorporated, such as Servers refilling beverages tableside or staff checking on the patrons during their meal. Guests are even being asked to stay a little longer, linger, have another drink. It’s becoming less about the turnaround and more about enhancing guest experience.
Perhaps we’ll have a new category to add to the dining segment: Fast-ish Casual. It will be interesting to watch this blending of upgraded service in the fast-ish casual environment grow and how Owners and Operators feel it contributes to the success of their restaurants.
It’s not just the fast-casual segment asking their guests to stay a little longer, we now see it amongst the casual dining sector along with hotel lobbies and other public spaces. Gaming in public venues has been becoming more and more popular. It’s likely all the on-line communication and screen time we are now accustomed to have us wanting to go back to more face-to-face socializing.
Consider gaming the new communal table. This can be a struggle to incorporate for many, as it typically takes away from seats (seats = revenue) in the space. However, carefully laid out drink rails or nearby cocktail tables, even if just standing room, can help encourage guests to keep ordering as they play. Consider adding a glass top over games and keeping stools nearby to use this as a bar height table in a pinch to ensure that these additions are as functional as they are fun.
Socializing, whether it be gaming at happy hour or enjoying an evening of great conversation over a great meal, is not a new concept for restaurants. The trends of hard materials at every surface along with an open kitchen concept are still thriving. While exposing existing concrete or opening up the ceiling can be budget friendly options that provide charm and character they also lack in the acoustic area. Socializing in these great spaces starts to become a little more difficult as you strain to hear the rest of your party. These are fantastic design cues, however thoughtful examination needs to be taken into account for acoustics, regardless of the market segment the establishment is positioned in. The consideration of dampening, diffusing and deflecting noise should be taken early on.
Whether this happens at the ceilings with interesting acoustic systems, at the wall with sound absorbent material or carefully planning kitchen layouts to make sure boisterous equipment isn’t backing a dining area, this is a challenge that should be tackled early on. The diners will most definitely be thankful and may even stay for that second (or third) round.
STUDIO M c C O R M A C K was founded with the guiding principle of bringing inspirational and imaginative design to the world. We have an unsurpassed dedication to creating exceptional design that engages and delights. The art of our designs is realized through the harmonious merging of the unexpected and fascination with functionality and practicality. Fueled by a deep passion, we are driven to lead, never follow and make the impossible, possible. Within our studio are incredibly talented individuals who are empowered to do their best work within a culture focused on helping them achieve excellence along with the autonomy to be amazing. The concepts, designs, and experiences that they create are what define us and will keep STUDIO M c C O R M A C K at the forefront of hospitality design. Based in Southern California we have the ability to do projects of all types and sizes nationwide and are very proud to have Matchbox, BJ’s Restaurants, Yard House, Wood Ranch, MGM, Seasons 52 and Venetian Resort among our clients.