Jump to content

America's Next Great Restaurant


  • Please log in to reply

1035 replies to this topic

#61

Al Funcoot

Al Funcoot

    Fanatic

Posted Mar 8, 2011 @ 8:01 PM

But 'wichcraft is strictly takeout. Most of them are just kiosks. Seating seems to be a sine qua non of fast casual, right? I'm still confused.


Interesting, the San Fran wichcraft has a huge seating area (with a loft/mezzanine) so it came to mind as what they were discussing as fast casual.
  • 0

#62

floretbroccoli

floretbroccoli

    Fanatic

Posted Mar 8, 2011 @ 8:30 PM

Thanks, Rickster and boilergal. As I suspected, it's mostly marketing bullshit, but at least now I understand what they mean.

And I expect that it will be used as a cudgel when it comes to elimination time. "How can you think that your proposal is fast casual? We will NOT be investing in your restaurant."

Al Funcoot -- yeah, different setups in different cities, I guess. The most recent 'wichcraft in NYC opened in a building atrium. And there happen to be some tables and chairs there, but they are not really part of 'wichcraft.
  • 0

#63

ratgirlagogo

ratgirlagogo

    Fanatic

Posted Mar 8, 2011 @ 11:13 PM

So it's official - I don't really know what the difference is between fast food and fast casual. But, I do know that a big part of Chipotle's appeal is that it serves "naturally raised meats" as opposed to factory farmed meats - I used quotes because there is some controversy about what is meant by "naturally raised." I believe Chipotle still buys all their pork from Niman Ranch (again, lots of controversy here) and I'm pretty sure they're the only chain that even claims to be serving "naturally raised" pork. Many people who wouldn't eat at McDonald's do eat at Chipotle because of the meat. Perhaps why McDonald's gave him the money.

Meaning, I think that the presence of the Chipotle guy suggests that they're looking for something a little better than McDonald's or Burger King.

I just have one question: What's with all the sunburned/red faces?


God, yes, I meant to comment on this before! We were wondering if it was our TV. The Asian woman (Compleat) especially looked like she had some terrible chest rash. And the burgers and wings guy was red as a lobster - but it seemed all of them looked unnaturally red.

there is rampant speculation that it will be inside the Mall of the America's


Aha! OK, I now understand the Minneapolis thing.
  • 0

#64

bulldawgtownie

bulldawgtownie

    Stalker

Posted Mar 9, 2011 @ 1:44 AM

Aha! OK, I now understand the Minneapolis thing

Their focus on tourist locations also explains why they were so concerned with someone not offering any dishes that contain meat. It also explains why none of the judges really are experts on running and operating a restaurant. They're not actually looking for the "next great restaurant" but rather the next great "Hot dog on a stick." I'll still watch the show because I'm curious to see what happens but I'd be lying if I said it doesn't affect how I view it now.
  • 0

#65

niklj

niklj

    Fanatic

Posted Mar 9, 2011 @ 5:58 AM

I kinda thought this show was a little boring. The contestants weren't very appealing and neither were their ideas. As a show, there wasn't anything too compelling and for some reason I got this feeling that as the judges were filming this, they were slowly realizing how bad this might turn out.

I liked the judges though.

It's kind of a pity the Vietnamese guys didn't just go for a banh mi joint (banh mi are vietnamese sandwiches) since banh mi is a concept is very adjustable to different flavor combinations

There's already so many banh mi chains (Lee's Sandwiches, Mr. Baguette, etc.) There's already all these restaurants existing somewhere, which is what I'm finding out from this thread. The only thing that will speak for a chain isn't a crazy concept or whatever--it's the food and good word of mouth. Crazy concepts are more food truck territory.
  • 0

#66

theta1

theta1

    Video Archivist

Posted Mar 9, 2011 @ 12:14 PM

I wasn't really sure what they thought was so unattainable about the various ethnic food concepts. Here in BC, Canada there's a Vina Vietnamese place in every mall food court, and while I guess that's 'fast food' more than 'fast casual', it definitely does a huge business and there's no reason it couldn't be a fast casual format.

Same with the Persian/Iranian food...assuming it would be essentially serving Persian fast (casual) food, we're talking about kebabs (although the kebab-burger didn't sound like a great idea), chicken, rice, stuffed grape leaves, and I would imagine a strong dessert counter...I guess I don't see why either of these concepts would have a particularly more difficult time in terms of the ethnic cuisine nature of their food.
  • 0

#67

floretbroccoli

floretbroccoli

    Fanatic

Posted Mar 9, 2011 @ 1:12 PM

I've concluded from various postings here, and from judges' comments that Fast Casual:
  • is a way to sound better than fast food
  • must have a place to eat on the premises
  • should not have servers

What puzzles me a little is that, when they introduced Chipotle Guy, they made the point that twenty years ago no one could imagine that kind of popular Mexican place. So why are they so skeptical about The Public being willing to try other new things?
  • 0

#68

bulldawgtownie

bulldawgtownie

    Stalker

Posted Mar 9, 2011 @ 4:16 PM

What puzzles me a little is that, when they introduced Chipotle Guy, they made the point that twenty years ago no one could imagine that kind of popular Mexican place. So why are they so skeptical about The Public being willing to try other new things?

Because they're not trying to find the most original idea, despite what they say, or who makes the best food or who has the best menu. They're looking for what will sell the best. With that being their goal it makes sense to go with tried and true rather than something that's never been done before.

I also think that they're going to want portable meals rather than something a person has to sit down to eat. So unfortunately that takes out the chicken and waffles guy and the saucy ballz guy and really most of the contestants. I think in the end it'll come down to the sports wraps versus the grilled cheese.
  • 0

#69

Bigwheels1971

Bigwheels1971

    Fanatic

Posted Mar 9, 2011 @ 6:46 PM

If the restaurant is going to have 4 investors, won't they outrank the contestant who wins? What I mean is, how much control over the menu, decor, etc. is the person actually going to have? When it's all said and done, couldn't the investors just tell the person, "This is what we are going to do," since they are the people putting up the money? I watch Shark Tank, and contestants come in wanting majority control and 99.9% of the time don't get it because the investors are taking the lion share of the risk and want the bigger reward.

Edited by Bigwheels1971, Mar 9, 2011 @ 6:51 PM.

  • 0

#70

m74

m74

    Channel Surfer

Posted Mar 10, 2011 @ 12:22 AM

I liked the show. I'm hoping that there are rules in place like those which apply to game shows and they will have to award the prize no matter what, so they will air the entire series even with low ratings if they have to go ahead and open the 3 restaurants no matter what.

One thing I appreciated was that they didn't put in the obnoxious people simply for the drama. I also liked how they discussed the fact that personality, leadership and drive was as important as the concept.

I didn't like that they were fairly dismissive of most of the more ethnic cuisines. I am not a fan of Indian cuisine, but I think that the concept is a great one. Maybe it will never become the next McDonalds, but any urban/suburban area is going to be able to support that, given the number of traditional Indian restaurants that seem to be everywhere.

I do think some of the "aren't there already a lot of these?" places like the sports wrap and the quick wok will be among the first casualties. There is always room for a new take on something when well executed, but I think that they will want something a bit more creative that they can take credit for. And like was mentioned upthread, I do have to wonder what, if any, role Chipotle's well-publicized planned expansion into an Asian food offshoot will have.

I'm looking forward to seeing the process of creating a restaurant concept as much as I am to the competition aspect.
  • 0

#71

lillybee

lillybee

    Fanatic

Posted Mar 11, 2011 @ 10:45 PM

I am feeling sorry for the chicken and waffles guy, IHOP just put it on its menu.
  • 0

#72

TudorQueen

TudorQueen

    Stalker

Posted Mar 11, 2011 @ 11:15 PM

I actually like IHOP quite a bit - their crepes are good, or at least as good as you're likely to get in a town without an actual creperie - but I'm willing to bet, without tasting, that Mr. Chicken and Waffles' stuff tastes a lot better. Also, IHOP is likely to be featuring C&F as a limited time thing.
  • 0

#73

mansonlamps

mansonlamps

    Couch Potato

Posted Mar 12, 2011 @ 4:03 PM

The atmosphere is a little more high-end, the food features more fancy-sounding (and less processed-looking, i.e. strips of bacon than the round shaped bacon McDonald's used to have)


Also known as "Canadian Bacon." :)

I had high hopes for this show and I'll keep watching mainly because I love Chipotle's guy (somehow he sorta reminds me of Sheldon on The Big Bang Theory), but I don't think there was really an original idea in the bunch, save for maybe the Indian Food. And that's not that original in big cities.

Least original ever: wraps (make your own???), wings, burgers, soup, salad, Mongolian BBQ (ew with precooked food). At least grilled cheese, like many mentioned, is not something you can make in advance or that travels well even if you can make it at home. And I love me some good meatballs, but that's too limited a concept.

I actually liked the idea of many flavors of pot pie (with a different, unused name of course). As long as they offered a variety of sides, I think it could have worked. Anyway, not cheering for any contestant in particular, but I think it's interesting enough to keep watching.
  • 0

#74

T Scrumptious

T Scrumptious

    Fanatic

Posted Mar 12, 2011 @ 7:30 PM

I actually liked the idea of many flavors of pot pie (with a different, unused name of course). As long as they offered a variety of sides, I think it could have worked. Anyway, not cheering for any contestant in particular, but I think it's interesting enough to keep watching.


It works really well in Australia. They have those mini meat pies everywhere!



Also known as "Canadian Bacon." :)


We call it back bacon here in Canada. :)
  • 0

#75

corgi-ears

corgi-ears

    Fanatic

Posted Mar 12, 2011 @ 9:04 PM

I didn't get the frowns at the grilled cheese either.


If we take the idea that the episode really was a job interview, and what we saw were true sales pitches -- a big if, I'll admit -- then it's not that weird for the judges to hand-wring. Interviewers often ask questions to which they know the answers; the point is to see if the interviewee can answer, or how he or she does so.

Of course, that Grilled Cheese Guy didn't provide a reply as convincing as the ones on this forum (or a reply at all, period, as far as we were shown) doesn't speak well of his business acumen.

Edited by corgi-ears, Mar 12, 2011 @ 9:06 PM.

  • 0

#76

biakbiak

biakbiak

    Stalker

Posted Mar 12, 2011 @ 10:22 PM

I just caught this online and will give it a shot. The Indian concept is my favorite but given that I don't believe that he appeared in any of the clips for the season, so I imagine he will be gone early.

I thought the "drama" of the grilled cheese taken time was just completely ridiculous, it's not going to take any longer than making a burger!

Are all three restaurants opening on May 1?
  • 0

#77

alannapants

alannapants

    Channel Surfer

Posted Mar 12, 2011 @ 11:53 PM

There is a fast casual grilled cheese restaurant in downtown Cincinnati. It's called Tom+Chee, and is based on the concept of grilled cheese and tomato soup. They have lots of "gourmet" grilled cheese sandwiches, and in addition to tomato, the soups vary daily. They are WILDLY successful here. They have limited hours that cater to the downtown work crowd, and usually run out of stuff every day. One of their sandwiches, which is a grilled cheese with bacon and bbq potato chips, was named "Best Bite in the City" or something like that. Like a few other posters upthread have mentioned, it's something everyone likes and it has to be made to eat. Maybe you can make them easily at home, but not with a variety of ingredients, and also - you're not always at home. Anyways, I think this contestant might do surprisingly well, because to me, his concept best represents what the show is trying to do (as I understand it anyways...this was the first I'd heard of "fast casual,") and I know that if something does well in Cincinnati's weak ass downtown, odds are good it could fair well in bigger cities.

Btw, I do NOT work for Tom+Chee, I guess I'm just a grilled cheese enthusiast... I sound a little love struck up there, geez.

Edited by alannapants, Mar 13, 2011 @ 3:22 PM.

  • 0

#78

TudorQueen

TudorQueen

    Stalker

Posted Mar 13, 2011 @ 11:35 AM

You may be love struck - and what's wrong with love? - but I would be, too. I'd be spending waay too much money on grilled cheese and soup in its many tasty forms.

I love nowhere near Cincinnati, and as everyone has already pointed out, Grilled Cheese guy hasn't wowed the judges yet - nor do I live near the three announced sites - but a girl can dream....
  • 0

#79

Al Funcoot

Al Funcoot

    Fanatic

Posted Mar 13, 2011 @ 12:34 PM

The atmosphere is a little more high-end, the food features more fancy-sounding (and less processed-looking, i.e. strips of bacon than the round shaped bacon McDonald's used to have)



Also known as "Canadian Bacon." :)


Actually, I wasn't talking about Canadian Bacon but a actual "bacon" that resembled and (kinda) tasted like bacon except it was curled into an o-ring shape, into the approximate size of a McDonald's hamburger patty. I remember buying some kind of bacon cheeseburger from McDonalds, it was my last one after seeing that bacon.
  • 0

#80

shopper gal

shopper gal

    Fanatic

Posted Mar 13, 2011 @ 8:21 PM

Thank god the wrap lady is gone. She was just too into herself - frankly I didn't know who the hell she was. And as obnoxious as he is, the taco guy was right, Subway makes wraps. Deal with it honey.

I was only paying a little attention, but are the Southern small plates people billing it as white trash food or trailer trash food? did anyone catch it. If they are doing the former I'm surprised the investors haven't said something about it.

I'm digging this show and the fact that they are showing stuff like, designing a logo etc etc.

The Chipotle guy makes me wanna fedex him a big thing of chapstick. Something about his mug bugs me seriously.

It's not fair that they didn't bring an Indian chef in to choose from.

Edited by shopper gal, Mar 13, 2011 @ 8:25 PM.

  • 0

#81

CrumbyButtons

CrumbyButtons

    Stalker

Posted Mar 13, 2011 @ 8:32 PM

Server ate my post. Darn it.

Anyway - to sum up. I hate wraps. Glad that idea (and lady) is gone.

I agreed that the taco bar logo didn't convey anything about the food. A heart with wings and a dagger does not say "taco bar". Guess I'm not "cool enough" either. I disagreed that the Compleat logo was boring. It was simple and I think, based on the concept, simple is the right way to go.
  • 0

#82

shibori

shibori

    Fanatic

Posted Mar 13, 2011 @ 8:46 PM

Dear Wrap Douche: You don't say "thank you for the opportunity" because you're a loser (did she say "baller"? gah!), you say it because it's the polite thing to say when you were handed the chance at something you wouldn't have had otherwise, a chance you threw away completely by being an obstinate bitch. Don't let the door hit you on the way out.

Dear Taco Guy: Thank you for saving me the trouble of wasting my time on an idea I might have liked but is targeted towards the douchebag market. Luckily, I'd see your Ed Hardy knockoff logo and know that I should keep walking.
  • 0

#83

cstad

cstad

    Video Archivist

Posted Mar 13, 2011 @ 8:51 PM

Taco bar guy... seriously, get over yourself.... You are not God's gift to fast casual food...

I'm also not "cool enough," I guess, 'cause I thought his logo looked like a bad, bad tattoo. [Ed Hardy knock-off, that's it!] Nothing about it said "taco bar" to me; I would assume it was some sort of biker-bar-wannabe-type place. On the other hand, I rather liked "Meltworks" logo. I thought it conveyed the idea rather nicely. (On a side note, the local grilled cheese place here in Cleveland, "Melt," actually gives a discount to people who tattoo the Melt logo on themselves. Maybe Meltworks should think about a similar idea for its melty cog-thing.)

Thank goodness wrap-lady is gone. She just wasn't going to hear anything negative about her stuff, and that doomed her. Sorry, but I can get my own made-to-order wrap at my local Subway. And I don't need people applauding me, either.
  • 0

#84

rhys7

rhys7

    Fanatic

Posted Mar 13, 2011 @ 9:19 PM

I must be a big doofus, cuz I liked Meltworks's logo. I thought the idea of a cog in "works" was clever.

I need to go look up tiffin pan or tiffin whatever. Too bad there are tons of folks like me who have no clue what that is.
  • 0

#85

boilergal

boilergal

    Fanatic

Posted Mar 13, 2011 @ 9:38 PM

If I ever saw that taco guy's logo on a restaurant (and whoever said Ed Hardy - BINGO!!!), I'd keep walking. So lame. So incredibly lame.

When I was in grad school, there was a wrap place called Roly Poly near the campus - I was under the impression it was a chain? I was surprised when the wrap lady said that concept didn't exist. Not that it matters now.

Just checked - it IS a franchise: Roly Poly
  • 0

#86

kitty32

kitty32

    Fanatic

Posted Mar 13, 2011 @ 10:01 PM

Loved the Meltworks logo, love the concept -- was glad he won the popular vote. Hate the taco guy (what's the point in harrassing the other contestants?), hate his logo. He and the meatballs guy can go any time, although I wasn't surprised that Fran was the one they showed the door. Bad attitude won't get you anywhere. Was she saying that she liked dry, underseasoned chicken, or that Ells just didn't know what he was talking about? Either way, she wasn't going to win. I remember her from that HGTV series where she was a lifecoach/decorator, whatever ... didn't like her then, either.

I love the idea of the Tiffin box (a stacked group of usually three containers with a handle) and Indian cuisine (try Aarti's Party at 11:30 on Sunday morning for Indian cooking ideas). I think it was unfair they didn't include at least one chef that was familiar with Indian food -- handicapped him from the get-go.

I also think the Wok idea would be good -- but she doesn't seem to really know what she's talking about. Why she gave them that gooey awful rice I just don't understand.
  • 0

#87

junemeatcleaver

junemeatcleaver

    Fanatic

Posted Mar 13, 2011 @ 10:14 PM

Yeah, the wrap idea was a little lacking. There's a Subway almost everywhere in the US, and I'm sure most upscale, fast casual sandwich shops offer wraps as well. There aren't any truly original ideas in the bunch, but wraps you can get any and everywhere. It was a little surprising wrap lady didn't blame the dry chicken on not getting the chef she wanted.

I wonder if the ratings will fall from last week or if they'll hold steady. I like the show, but I don't know, there's just something missing. The fake drama with the chefs and the taco bar guy being a douche wasn't enough.
  • 0

#88

backformore

backformore

    Fanatic

Posted Mar 13, 2011 @ 10:15 PM

thank you, Boilergal! I had a vague memory of a wrap place in Illinois, couldn't recall the name. That was it - Roly Poly. And the one I had been to is gone now. What I recall was that there were too many options, it was tough to decide what to order, and the food was mediocre. I wanted to go back and try another menu item, but by that time it was closed.

I'm also not sure the WOK place is a unique concept. I've been to restaurants like that - Asian fusion type place, where you go through the line and tell the chef what meats, veggies, and sauce to put together. Everything is chopped up small, so it cooks in a minute or two. Some are called Mongolian BBQ, or Mongolian grill - here's a franchise one: BD's mongolian grill

I like the grilled cheese concept. Yeah, you can make a simple grilled cheese at home. But it would make a great lunch option for those who work, and a nice casual dinner option as well. I liked that the sandwiches could have veggies and meat, too.
The W-3 guy was Weird. How does "wood, Waffles & Wings" translate to GUMBO?

I agree that the taco place logo is lame - it calls to mind a weird clothing store where you can buy band t-shirts and jewelry for your facial piercings. Kind of like a Hot Topic store. It does not bring to mind a restaurant, and has nothing to do with tacos.

The Meatball place - First, There's something I'm not sure I like with the "Saucy Balls' name juxtaposed with a grandma. Second - is it just one food item? A meatball? Or are there a number of options, like different sauces, or a few varieties of meatball? Because it seems like he wants to sell one thing only.

Edited by backformore, Mar 13, 2011 @ 10:20 PM.

  • 0

#89

SpunkyBrewster

SpunkyBrewster

    Channel Surfer

Posted Mar 13, 2011 @ 10:17 PM

So glad Sports Wraps was voted out. Can you imagine how annoying it would be to have ppl cheering every time someone got their wrap?

Theres a really popular indian tiffin place here in Toronto, and the way it works is that essentially its take out. Say an office or bunch of ppl in an office will order their tiffin lunch boxes, they are deleivered and later picked up. My only thought is how will the tiffin idea work in a touristy place? No one is going to want to walk around with a tiffin box, so how will they dispose of it?

Theres also a chain here in Canada called Thai express. Customers give their order at a counter, pay and then wait for their food in front of a grill counter. They have about 4-5 woks going, one chef to each. They clean the wok between order by just throwing a ladal of water in the wok and it kind of steam cleans. Im not vegetarian so I've never really questioned this process, but yeah i don't think many vegetarians would be thrilled with that.

At first I thought the grilled cheese idea would be your standard grill cheese so I was kinda meg to the idea...but once he whipped out the panini press and the mortadella I was gung ho! I had a gouta grilled chicken and roasted red pepper on a white potato foccacia grilled cheese at a lunch place the other day and it was to die for!

I dont really get why the judges were so hard on "Hicks" They were bitching that the food was really fatty, but last I've heard fried chicken and waffles aren't that all that healthy either.

My fave concepts are meltworks, limbo and compleat...but that limbo logo was awful!

Edited by SpunkyBrewster, Mar 13, 2011 @ 10:22 PM.

  • 0

#90

Irlandesa

Irlandesa

    Fanatic

Posted Mar 13, 2011 @ 10:45 PM

Was she saying that she liked dry, underseasoned chicken, or that Ells just didn't know what he was talking about?


She implied it was a taste thing as if there was some vast market for dry and under seasoned chicken out there. I think she also acted like he didn't know what he was talking about when they said it was overcooked because in her mind they apparently mean different things. Listen lady, if Indian guy can change his veggie menu to one that includes meat, then you should cook your chicken a little less, especially if you're going for "healthy."

I dont really get why the judges were so hard on "Hicks" They were bitching that the food was really fatty, but last I've heard fried chicken and waffles aren't that all that healthy either.


There's a difference between being fatty and unhealthy and tasting fatty/unhealthy. One tastes good while the other doesn't taste so good and makes you feel like crap. For instance, a good piece of meat will have some fat in it which will make it taste really good but if there's more blubber then meat, I wanna throw up.

I caught up with the show today and I really like it. It is similar to Last Restaurant Standing, although I think NBC already did a remake of that show, but I almost like the concept for this show a little better. It seems a little more accessible. Or maybe it's the fact that I go to Minneapolis often enough that I could actually visit the winner. I kind of wish I had known about it. I would've applied.

The Indian concept is a good one. I'm not a fan of Indian food but there are a lot of Indian restaurants out there so I think it's at the saturation point where it's begging to be watered down and mass marketed to the lunch crowd.

The grilled cheese concept is great. I can only think that the hand wringing over "I can do this at home" is done to create suspense over what is a genuinely likable concept. I can make sandwiches too, better sandwiches than what I can get at Subway yet I still go to Subway. Grilled cheese sandwiches are easy to make until I start adding stuff to them. The logo was pretty smart too.
  • 0