Restaurant Development & Design

MAR-APR 2018.

restaurant development + design is a user-driven resource for restaurant professionals charged with building new locations and remodeling existing units.

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M A R C H / A P R I L 2 0 1 8 • r e s t a u r a n t d e v e l o p m e n t + d e s i g n • 4 3 From concept development to brand protection, here's how companies that made the move to fast casual tackled the challenge. BY TOBY WEBER P ick a cliché: If you can't beat 'em, join 'em. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Out with the old; in with the new. Adapt or die. All could be applied to the growing trend of established brands expanding into the fast-casual space. Clichés aside, this is just good business. Fast casual has remade the restaurant industry in the 21st century, taking market share from concepts up and down the quality and service level chain. Instead of just surrendering custom- ers, established chains are looking to compete for the same dining dollars as fast-casual players, but they're bringing the full weight — both the benefits and drawbacks — of their existing brands to fast-casual offshoots. Why Fast Casual? Growing store count and sales is obvi- ously the bottom line for any company that enters the fast-casual space. But the exact reasons to make the leap can differ from company to company. Florida-based Hurricane Grill & Wings launched Hurricane BTW (short for burgers, tacos and wings) in reac- tion to the growing trend of off-premise dining. With more food being consumed away from restaurants, operations don't need the same square footage to satisfy guests, says Chief Brand Officer Brooksy Smith. At the same time, Millennial customers have shown a preference for

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