Fancy Fast Food: The Concepts That are Bridging the Gap Between Fast Food and Fine Dining

Fine dining has been evolving in the hospitality world lately and it’s not doing it in the direction of becoming more ‘fine’ in its accessibility but it’s actually evolving into the fast food category meaning people are able to get their hands on high quality food, quickly in many more retail precincts around the world. Fast ‘fine’ food is elevating the way people see food in these precincts and is allowing people to make good food choices without having to think too hard at all. When we walk into well planned precincts these days, we aren’t faced with the ‘fried rice or ‘fried chicken burger?’ question but whether it will be the gourmet sandwich or fresh cut sashimi and our discerning customers are the ones driving this change.  

What does this move to fast ‘fine’ dining mean for retail precincts, cultural hubs and any other space which have a food and beverage offer? It means people have an opportunity to spend their food dollars on a slightly more expensive product and the result for their slightly higher investment is a much more enjoyable food experience. The experience is a very important factor for people when they decide whether something is worth their money or not and as long as it’s good, they will return time and time again. Return visits, a higher spend and positive consumer feedback to bring in new customers is what precincts, hubs and centres need to maintain business growth and improve their asset value.  And what makes an experience good? It’s all encompassing meaning it starts with visual merchandising, impeccable customer service, quality ingredients, delicious taste, an ease of purchasing and the ability to walk in and out of the outlet without a glitch.

We’ve put together a list of the key concepts that are doing fine ‘fast’ casual in an exciting, enticing and experiential way which has customers crowding their shops and asset owners gaining from their business.  

  • Sake Jr - The little sister to one of Australia's renowned Japanese restaurants, Sake. With an array of options on the menu from 'build your own bowls' to freshly prepared sashimi, Sake Jr fills the criteria of elevated food in a quick-service environment and you'll find it nestled into the mix of many business hubs throughout Sydney and Melbourne for those workers who need a quick and healthy fix.  
  • Marae Izakaya - a Japanese smart casual restaurant which can be found at Chadstone's new food precinct. It's a place where you can enjoy a fun food experience with a group of friends and it's open with extended trading hours - a key to success for fast 'fine' food operators. 
  • Sushi Hon - an experiential food offer with some fine sushi on offer. You can't really beat and interactive service model such as a sushi train and when you can choose between 'grab and go' or opt to sit down, Sushi Hon is appealing to all crowds. 
  • Fonda Mexican - the king pin of Mexican food is Melbourne restaurant chain, Fonda who have been popping up in all kinds of places from inner city shopping strips to the outer retail precincts. The cocktail list is long enough to keep those who want to sit a little longer but the men also has options for 'bowl meals' or a couple of tacos to go. 


  • Din Tai Fung - World famous dumplings in a relaxed and approachable setting, it doesn't get much better than Din Tai Fung. Whether you want a slow Sunday lunch or to sit down for a beer and basket of bao after work - Din Tai Fung will please all customers. 
  • Burger Project - Australia's favourite chef, Neil Perry, has launched his new concept, Burger Project to engage a different crowd. The much loved food has been elevated by pairing different and unusual flavours and sourcing only the highest quality ingredients. It's a burger like you've never tasted one before. 
  • Mama’s Buoi - big brother to the much loved Vietnamese 'grab and go' shop, Roll'd and a touch more classy is Mama's Buoi. A sit-down, smart casual restaurant that incorporates the fun and vibrant flavours of Vietnam in an enticing and exciting environment with a drinks menu to match. You won't want to move on too quickly from this place, particularly if you're with a big group of friends who are ready to have some fun. 

What are your favourite fast ‘fine’ dining options and what cuisines would you like to see more of in this new and expanding category?