Destination dining goes casual

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Inside Franchise Business: casual dining is a popular trend for franchise brandsAussie consumers love dining at casual eateries so how are franchised chains keeping up with the challenges of the space?

Full-service restaurant chains dominate the casual dining scene, with franchises from the US featuring prominently in Australia.

A new Euromonitor International report, Full-Service Restaurants in Australia, says North American full-service restaurant chains account for 42 per cent of value sales and 29 per cent of outlets in Australia.

“These restaurants tend to serve mostly families and larger groups, as their offering usually includes good deals for children’s menus, and food portions tend to be larger,” says report author Julia Illera, senior research analyst at Euromonitor International.

A casual-dining destination could be defined as a food outlet where customers dine in groups and spend at least half an hour eating.

One example is the Singapore franchise The Rotisserie, which offers a comfort-food menu covering breakfast, lunch and dinner – from coffee during the day to alcohol at night. Meals come in large portions at affordable prices, with each food product prepared fresh daily.

“Our target customers are working professionals in their early 20s to late 50s, families and events organisers who are frequent party planners,” says Australian MD Jason Pope. “Our food has a broad customer appeal – a dine-in meal with colleagues, a packed sandwich on the go or an intimate family celebration.”

CEO Ross Worth of home-grown casual-dining chain Hog’s Australia says its audience is extremely diverse. “We cater for everyone between 18 and 54 years specifically, and included within this demographic are families, corporates, parties and events, date nights and just general catch-ups.”

Target customers

“Our primary target customers are 20 to 50 year olds, with a slight male skew, and secondary are young families,” says Twelve Boar franchisor Rick Palesh. The brand offers American-style barbecue tailored to the Australian market.

“Our customers are unpretentious, relaxed and casual ‘foodies’,” he says.
Millennials are a key target group for local fast-casual franchise Rozzi’s Italian Canteen. Director Dean Salamone says the group had a specialist consultancy group conduct extensive market research to clearly identify the ideal customer. The findings were 58 per cent female, 42 per cent male and 49 per cent between 18 and 34 years old, “which is a strong reflection on our ability to engage with millennials”.

Costa Anastasiadis, who heads up local Hellenic dining chain Zeus Street Greek, says the brand also targets millennials and growing families, as does Australia/New Zealand franchise La Porchetta, CEO Sara Pantaleo saying its primary customers are families, with secondary markets of young people and baby boomers.

Delivery and tech

Delivery technology has been a big disruptor in the restaurant space, particularly with mobile apps being used for booking tables or ordering home-delivery food.

In the Euromonitor restaurant report, Illera says competitors in other channels, including 100 per cent home-delivery/takeaway, cafes/bars and fast food, will continue to pose a potential threat to growth in the full-service restaurant space.

“In fact, these channels are expected to outpace full-service restaurants as busier lifestyles encourage Australians to opt for more convenient food options that can be ordered and picked up or delivered faster than waiting for a meal at a full-service restaurant.”

  • Read the full article in the September/October edition of Inside Franchise Business magazine, out new in newsagencies. Want to subscribe and receive future issues in the mail? Sign up here.
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