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Dining Services: Casual vs Fine

Instructor: Allison Tanner
Casual and Fine dining offer two different styles and experiences for customers. This lesson will discuss the key characteristics of the two types of restaurants.

Fine Dining Vs. Casual Dining

Jan is consulting with her friend, Mike, on whether she should apply for jobs with a fine-dining establishment or a casual-dining restuarant. She asks Mike, ''What is the difference? Aren't they both just places that people go to eat?''

Mike, a restaurant expert, quickly tells Jan that there are major differences between the two types of restaurants. First, he tells her that both types of dining involve table service. This means that the customers are cared for by server who comes their table. However, a fine-dining restaurant is a formal type of dining, highlighted by expensive and unique menus. A casual-dining restaurant is a laid-back dining experience with moderately-priced food and often, more diverse menus.

Mike goes on to explain that there are a variety of differences in the:

  • Restaurant Set-up
  • Service Style
  • Menu Items
  • Pricing

Guests expect a different kind of experience depending on whether they are going to a casual or fine-dining location. Mike explains that Jan will have to work differently depending on the type of restaurant.

Mike tells Jan that the key difference is that fine dining offers a highly professional, high class experience;casual dining offers a laid-back and friendly environment for a variety of people.

Fine Dining

To help Jan decide which style of restaurant she would like to work at, Mike decribes the differences between the two locations. Now, we know that fine dining is upscale and expensive, but what does this mean?

In fine dining, guest often have to make reservations and they are quietly seated by a host that has pre-selected their table. According to Mike, in a fine dining establishment the restaurant set-up or design, layout, and features of the location, are top of the line. The feel is quiet, with soft lighting. He tells Jan that walking in guests will see:

  • Tables set with tablecloths
  • Fine china
  • Fancy silverware
  • Wine and water glasses

Depending on the restaurant, the tables may be close to one another or spread out; the idea is that the setting should feel intimate. Nothing about this set-up should disappoint. The dining room will often have fantastic art, great seating, and a first-class vibe.

Service or the style of waiting, is highly professional. Servers are expected to have an extensive knowledge of fine wines and the restaurant's menu. In most cases, servers are expected to quietly serve the guests several courses of a meal without engaging in irrelevant chit chat. Wine is poured carefully by the server at the table and the meal is brought out by the course. With each course the guests will get a new set of silverware that is specifically designed for that portion of the meal.

Menu items are often selective and highly creative. In locations that are offering authentic meals such as Thai food, the items are top quality. The food typically comes in small portions, elegantly plated like a piece of art, and these meals are rarely cheaper than $20-25.

Going on, Mike tells Jan that if she likes the professional aspect of fine dining and can work in a strict environment, this is a great opportunity to make money. Also servers in this type of restaurant work at a slow pace with only a few tables per night. However, the prices are high, and tips are usually at least 20%.

Casual Dining

Although there are nice things about fine dining, many servers really enjoy casual dining. In addition to being more moderately priced, casual dining tends to be faster paced! Servers have more tables, but often with smaller tips with the average being 10-18%.

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