In our fast-paced world, people want everything quick. But at the same time, we want quality. When our favorite sit-down restaurants debut new fast-casual chains, we get the best of both worlds. We get the same amazing food, but it takes half as long. So it’s no wonder that a lot of restaurant chains have introduced smaller, sister restaurants. For example, Florida-based Beef ‘O’ Brady’s will debut their new “Beef’s Express” concept restaurant this month. That got us thinking- what other restaurants have express concepts? Here’s eight of our favorites.
Like many other restaurants, Beef ‘O’ Brady’s is working on a speedy fast-casual concept. The family-oriented Irish sports pub chain is looking to open their first Beef’s Express restaurant this month in Lakeland, Florida. The menu at Beef’s Express will be about half the size of the current Beef ‘O’ Brady’s menu. Beef’s favorites are still present, but some new items are also included, like the Turkey Bacon Deli Melt and Alfredo Pasta. Meals will be delivered right to your table and you can choose from over 130 flavors of soda with Coca-Cola Freestyle machines. Beef ‘O’ Brady’s has always put families first, so their bar area will not serve hard liquor and only 8 bar seats will be available. In addition, the bar will double as a to-go window.
Cold Stone Yogurt Bar
Incorporated into some Cold Stone Creamery locations is the Cold Stone Yogurt Bar. At the Yogurt Bar, you can get sweet, creamy frozen yogurt, in addition to the traditional Cold Stone ice cream. The Yogurt Bar functions just like other independent froyo chains- fill your cup up with whatever flavor you want, add in your toppings & syrups, and pay by weight.
Red Robin Burger Works
Red Robin, known for their gourmet burgers, recently opened several Red Robin Burger Works restaurants in Colorado, Illinois, & Washington, DC. The spin-off chain prides themselves on “fiery, fresh, fast and friendly” service. The Burger Works concept is built for urban areas, like Denver & Chicago, where a smaller restaurant footprint is needed. This in turn limits the amount of food that the restaurant can prepare, so the Burger Works menu is smaller than the traditional Red Robin menu.
IHOP, everyone’s favorite pancake place, opened their first IHOP Express locations in Tennessee in 2009. Over the next few years, the chain would open several more Express locations across the country, in places like San Diego & Richmond, VA. You’ll find IHOP Express mostly on military bases, college campuses, and in airports, where on-the-go is very important. The menu at IHOP Express is also chock-full of quirky takeout items, like “Cup O’Pancakes,” which is -you guessed it- a cup of pancakes with toppings inside.
In 2011, Jamba Juice introduced their new on-the-go concept, JambaGo. Jamba Go machines, similar to vending machines, are unmanned, self-service kiosks that can be installed anywhere and everywhere, from school cafeterias to convenience stores to shopping malls. The machines dispense Jamba Juice drinks in a style not unlike 7-Eleven’s Slurpee machines. With this speedy, better-for-you branding, Jamba Juice hopes to increase sales and physical presence, eventually catapulting themselves ahead of competitors. Currently, the chain has about 1,500 JambaGo machines installed nationwide.
Steak ‘n Shake Signature
In 2012, Indianapolis-based Steak ‘n Shake opened their first ever Steak ‘n Shake Signature concept restaurant next to the Ed Sullivan Theater in New York, then home of “The Late Show with David Letterman.” In January of that same year, the “Late Show” featured the new concept restaurant, which helped propel sales and increase publicity. A typical Signature restaurant has a different look than “classic” Steak ‘n Shake locations, conducts counter-only service, and has limited the menu to only include Steak ‘n Shake favorites, like steakburgers, fries, & hand-dipped milkshakes. The chain has already expanded the Signature concept across the country, especially to regions like large urban areas, where a smaller footprint is needed for expansion.
Uno Due Go & Uno Fresco
Uno Pizzeria & Grill, which began in 1943 as Pizzeria Uno in Chicago, launched their first urban fast-casual concept, called Uno Due Go, in 2008. The first restaurant opened in downtown Boston and the chain now franchises two university locations (Cleveland, Whitewater, WI) and two airport locations (Dallas-Fort Worth International.) At Uno Due Go, you’ll find traditional breakfast and lunch items, plus a separate grab-and-go bakery section. Then, in 2014, Uno Pizzeria & Grill began toying with another fast-casual concept called Uno Fresco, which is designed mainly for suburban areas. Uno Fresco serves lunch and dinner, which includes customizable salads, “Fork-and-Knife” sandwiches, and about 20 different types of pizza. The first Uno Fresco opened in Stoneham, Massachusetts in the summer of 2014, and more locations in the Northeast followed. The chain expects to have five new locations opened by the end of this year.
The Larkburger started out as a menu item at the Larkspur Restaurant & Market, a fine dining option in Vail, Colorado. Chef Thomas Salamunovich, who invented the Larkburger while running the Larkspur Restaurant, made the burger the focus of his now 13-restaurant strong chain of Larkburger fast food restaurants, which are located throughout Colorado.
(Sources: Restaurant News, Twitter, IHOP, Market Wire, Fast Company, NRN, Phude NYC, Wikipedia, VCU, Flickr, Jamba Juice, QSR, Uno’s)