Choosing The Best Type Of Restaurant To Open

If you’ve dreamed of being a restaurateur but aren’t sure what type of restaurant to open, begin your journey with this overview of your options.

This brief introduction will provide a snapshot of the different types of restaurant concepts as well as some of the benefits and challenges of each.

Quick Service

Quick service restaurants (QSRs) are also sometimes referred to as limited service restaurants (LSRs). Generally, these establishments emphasize low price-points, speedy service, and food that is easily transportable.

Customers typically order at the counter, order online for delivery, or order at a drive-thru window. This cuts down on staffing needs, as there is no wait staff to hire, train, or retain.

Many prospective restaurateurs are drawn to QSRs because of their growth in the restaurant industry. While this has created a crowded market, QSRs can remain competitive by outsourcing delivery for improved service, and staying on top of health-conscious customer demands.

QSRs can range from food trucks, to independent eateries like Bob Os Hot Dogs in Chicago, to franchises like McDonalds®, Panda Express®, and Subway®.

Fast Casual

Like QSRs, customers at a fast casual restaurant order at the counter or drive-thru, or order delivery. Fast casuals are slightly more upscale than QSRs—offering customizable, healthier, and better-quality food at a higher price point.

Yet, with QSRs beginning to offer some healthier options, fast casual restaurateurs need to differentiate with modern decor, solid branding, catering services, and using advanced mobile technology like Grubhub where customers can order ahead to skip lines, customize orders, and more.

Being able to charge more (with the limited-service staffing advantages of QSRs) can sway some potential restaurateurs towards fast casual.

Examples in the fast casual category range from small, independent restaurants—like Kennedy Chicken and Gyro in NYC that offers freshly-made sandwiches, salads and gyros—to chains such as Panera Bread® and Chipotle®.

Casual Dining

These establishments are full-service “sit-down” restaurants, with family-friendly menus, simple food, and a casual and welcoming dining atmosphere. These restaurants are typically more expensive than QSRs and fast casual, yet still offer a good value.

While casual dining establishments can appeal to older individuals and families with children, many restaurants are trying to capture the millennial crowd with healthier options, locally-sourced ingredients, and free Wi-Fi. Some may even offer a partial or full bar.

Competition from established chains can be challenging for independent restaurants, so strong marketing and staying on top of food and beverage trends are both essential. Also, the on-site dining aspect requires more staff to juggle and additional customer services to accommodate.

There are many chains in this category including Applebee’s®, IHop®, and Olive Garden®. Independent casual dining is also widely represented and varied in every community, such as Grandma’s Family Restaurant in Illinois, which features hearty breakfasts to healthy dinners and everything in between.

Upper Casual

The upscale casual distinction typically means that menu and bar items will be of higher quality and more innovative, with more polished service and stylish ambiance. Think “cuisine” rather than “food” in this category.

Upper casual restaurant patrons will pay a higher ticket price with the elevated food and service they receive. A higher level of cuisine and service can be challenging to the restaurateur in terms of accepting reservations, continuously sourcing quality ingredients, finding the most experienced staff, managing financials, creating effective loyalty programs, and growing the business.

Yard House® and The Capital Grill® are examples of upper casual eateries that have partnered with Grubhub to expand their customer base and offer a new way to serve their clientele.

Fine Dining

Fine dining restaurants offer exceptional service, innovative cuisine prepared with the highest-quality ingredients and classic culinary techniques, an upscale atmosphere, and a kitchen overseen by a master Head Chef.

Although serving sizes are smaller than any other category, prices are much higher due to elevated cuisine, service, and the overall dining experience. Many people with a burning passion for excellence and a desire to make a distinct mark on the restaurant industry are driven to open a fine dining establishment.

Pricing their menu properly, sourcing premium ingredients, understanding their customers, and staying ahead of their competition are common challenges facing the owner of a fine dining restaurant.

Many establishments like Morton’s The Steakhouse® with locations throughout the country have joined the trend among fine dining restaurants to offer delivery of their award-winning cuisine.  

Knowing the different types of restaurants can help you decide which one is right for you and put you one step further on your journey of becoming a restaurateur.

Learn with Grubhub’s 6 Steps To A Successful Restaurant Opening.

Image: Pexels