When asked what separates fine dining from casual, an older gentleman, with a sparkle in his eye, said, “No shoes, no shirt, no service.” His joke earned him a poke in the ribs from his wife, who laughed and said, “Fine dining is getting dressed up and going to a restaurant that is elegant, fancy, and serves excellent food. It isn’t cheap.”
Both were right, but the bit about shirt and shoes is often seen on signs in fast food restaurants, and became popular in the 1960’s and 70’s.
Fine Dining is an Experience
Fine dining conjures images of waiters in tuxedoes, white linen, sparkling glasses of champagne, women wearing fancy clothes and expensive jewelry, men in a suit and hat and, of course, valet parking. Great Gatsby come to life.
The clientele at a fine dining restaurant expects the best in service, in the quality of food, and in the atmosphere. It’s often quite expensive, but that is rarely a concern. They are very willing to pay for the experience they expect–to be able to choose from the highest quality in food selections, prepared exactly as they request, and served by well-trained, attentive staff who can suggest wine and beer pairings with ease.
Years ago, eating out was a rather grand spectacle where the goal was to see, and be seen. While that may still be true in some restaurants, with celebrities and other well-known people, today fine dining is more about the experience as a whole.
Casual Dining is an Escape
On the other hand, casual dining makes one think of families with young children, teenagers on a date, and grandmas taking a grandchild out for a special treat. Booth seating, high chairs, paper napkins, waitresses with one hand on a hip, the other with an order pad, placemats with advertisements from local businesses, and a case filled with yummy desserts set the stage.
When casual dining, the prices are reasonable and the food can fall into several categories, from wonderful to total comfort food to not-so-great-but-not-horrible to awful. The variety of foods available spans just as wide as the quality. Quality is still a priority, but cost can be an important consideration as well.
Often seen as an escape from the routine of shopping for, and making, dinner that evening, casual dining gives people a break from their everyday routine.
Social Media to the Rescue
No longer do customers have to play Russian Roulette. The evolution of social media has made word-of-mouth recommendations much more accessible, and a great deal more important to both customers and restaurateurs than ever before. It lets customers rate their experience and allows restaurants direct contact with their customers after they’ve dined there.
Ultimately, both fine dining and casual have something in common, making people feel good.
Come experience fine dining at The Clubhouse in Oak Brook, where excellence is an everyday occurrence.