Two Ways to Understand Casual Restaurant Concepts

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By Deagon B Williams

You know, the notion or idea of a casual restaurant concept is a bit confusing. Does that mean it is a casual place, or does it mean it is in the industry category of casual restaurant? Within the industry there are 5 categories of restaurants. They are:

1)     Fast Food- also known as QSR- Quick Service Restaurant.

2)     Fast Casual

3)     Casual Dining

4)     Family Style

5)     Fine Dining

So, one would think that casual restaurant concepts are in category #3; and technically that would be true from within the industry. However; this is not so true when it comes to looking at it from the consumer’s perspective. From a consumer’s perspective they typically think of casual as how fancy or formal the restaurant is and how dressed up they need to be to go there.  In fact there are many, if not now typically, casual restaurants that are in the family style or fine dining category from a consumer’s perspective.

When the industry talks about the casual category they are in fact referring to the level of service and décor rather than the dress code.  Regardless of which perspective one is looking at it from, the important part is to know that there are at least two vantage points from which to understand the term.

You will need to determine how a casual identity will form the foundation of your brand, and in which elements: cuisine, service, decor, staff appearance, ambiance, etc.  Communicating a clear concise brand message is critically important to not confuse the consumer.

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