In November 2021, FSR magazine introduced “NextGen Casual,” an emerging segment of full-service dining that promises to transform the category as the industry continues its recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. While spurred by the virus’ disruption, NextGen Casual was a movement gaining traction well before 2020. It’s the intersection of experience and convenience, and recognizes brands with a renewed focus on technology, localization, company culture, responsible sourcing, and a commitment to differentiation that appeals to multiple generations.
“In many ways, it’s the full-service industry’s answer to fast casual and the market share the category dominated in the 1990s into 2010s,” says Danny Klein, editorial director at Food News Media, publisher of FSR and QSR magazines. “Customers clamored for brands they could relate to; that offered varied menus and convenience, yet did so with accessibility in mind. That’s what’s happening with full service today. Only there’s an extra card these restaurants can pull—experience, from full bars to servers to elevated hospitality across the board. And it presents a very exciting future as casual dining looks to what’s next.”
For the first time, FSR magazine is introducing its NextGen Council, a collection of 11 industry leaders who will help shape the trends and topics central to the evolving segment.
Ricky Richardson, CEO, Eggs Up Grill
Founded in Pawleys Island, South Carolina, Eggs Up Grill has 55 locations with plans underway to reach the 100-restaurant mark by 2023.
Anita Adams, CEO, Black Bear Diner
Founded in 1995 by Bruce Dean and Bob Manley in Mt. Shasta, California, Black Bear Diner is one of the country’s fastest-growing full-service franchises, with more than 140 locations in 14 states.
Caroline Skinner, COO, Tupelo Honey
Tupelo Honey began serving its Southern staples and elevated hospitality to Asheville, North Carolina, residents in 2000. It’s grown to 19 units since, with plans to enter four new markets this year alone.
Paul Macaluso, CEO, Another Broken Egg Café
Another Broken Egg Café is one of the fastest-growing, franchised breakfast and brunch concepts in the nation, with more than 75 locations in 15 states and dozens more in development.
Christine Ferris, director of marketing, True Food Kitchen
The Phoenix-based brand, known for its anti-inflammatory food pyramid, was co-founded in 2008 by physician Andrew Weil and has more than 40 locations nationwide, with Oprah Winfrey as one of its backers.
Chris Artinan, CEO, Condado Tacos
Condado Tacos is a build-your-own taco concept operating since 2014. FSR’s Breakout Brand of 2021, which has 30 stores today, opened nine restaurants next year and plans 10–12 openings for 2022.
Yavonne Sarber, founder, Agave & Rye
Agave & Rye is a tequila and bourbon hall known for its eye-catching spaces and epic overall experiences. Founded in 2018, the brand has grown to 10 locations and recently announced plans to bring two locations to Columbus, Ohio.
James O’Reilly, CEO, Smokey Bones
Smokey Bones, an affiliate of Sun Capital partners, has 61 locations across 16 states. In 2020-21, it outperformed the casual-dining industry in comp sales, more than doubled its off-premises business, launched two virtual brands, opened two ghost kitchens, maintained liquidity, and was certified a Great Place to Work for the second year in a row.
Scott Taylor, COO, Walk-On’s Sports Bistreaux
Based in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Walk-On’s Sports Bistreaux was founded in 2003 by Brandon Landry, a former walk-on basketball player at LSU. Today, Walk-On’s boasts $5 million average-unit volumes and was named Entrepreneur’s “No. 1 Best Sports Bar Franchise” for the second consecutive year.
Liz Moskow, food futurist and Principal at Bread&Circus Ltd
Liz Moskow is a seasoned and creative innovation leader, food futurist, and virtual kitchen hospitality product/program strategist with extensive hospitality expertise and a proven track record of building and strengthening restaurant, hotel, and CPG food brands.
Aaron Lyons, CEO/founder of Dish Society/Daily Gather
Houston-based Dish Society was founded eight years ago and has built a model around counter service at breakfast and lunch and table service at dinner. It’s locally sourced, seasonal, farm-to-table menu is looking to expand in Texas. The higher-end Daily Gather concept opened in January.
“We’re honored to have such an accomplished group in Year 1,” Klein says. “All of these operators not only weathered the pandemic, but found ways to innovate and emerge stronger on the other side. They know what it takes to navigate today’s consumer restaurant and how to prepare for tomorrow’s. We’re thrilled to get their feedback and work toward creating a full-service community that supports and learns from one another.”
FSR magazine plans to feature a new group of operators each year on the NextGen Council. The announcement follows the publication of FSR magazine’s NextGen 25, which covered restaurants comprising the category, from four to nearly 150 locations.
For more information, visit FSRmagazine.com or contact Danny Klein at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About FSR magazine
FSR magazine is an industry leading publication for chefs, owners, executives, and decision-makers in the full-service restaurant industry. Along with sister publication QSR, FSR is part of the Food News Media family of foodservice titles, including top-ranked foodservice news site, QSRmagazine.com; the OneSource product and data guide; and Restaurant Franchising. To learn more about FSR magazine, please visit the FSR website at www.fsrmagazine.com.