I don’t often go to chain restaurants. I don’t have anything against chains, I just would prefer to try a new or local restaurant if there is an opportunity. I feel like that is a better way to truly get to know a city or a neighborhood. Don’t get me wrong, I like McDonald’s (a little too much) and places like T.G.I.Friday’s will always have a special place in my heart.
But if my girlfriends and I are deciding on where to dine on a night out, my first choice is probably not going to be a chain – right or wrong, we just assume that won’t offer the experience we seek. Instead, it’s going to be a new local restaurant in the Chicago area. Which is why I’m so intrigued by the industry’s introduction of the “anti-chain chains”.
When I read about Max’s Wine Dive and Simmzy’s concepts, the marketer in me said, wow, that is unique, different and fun, and the operator in me said, brilliant! Creating a brand that allows for consistency in the build-out and efficiency in the operations utilizing a multi-unit platform, yet allowing for the local creativity and uniqueness to flow within the concept… well, this just seems like a perfect match.
But, will the consumers ‘buy it’. So my friends and I gave it a go. Needless to say, this concept has great promise and is one to continue to watch.
When I recently dined at the new Max’s Wine Dive here in Chicago and I noticed right away that they have a “classics” menu and then a local menu that is constructed by their in-house chef. Max’s has the mac and cheese and fried chicken it’s known for on one side, and then has seasonal, local options on the other – things like baked brie with strawberry chipotle sauce (so good by the way!).
Simmzy’s does the same. All locations may have a similar look and feel, but their menus differ at each location to show they are both a chain and NOT a chain.
Many claim this concept appeals to the Millennial generation, and it really does because each experience still feels unique, but I think this could easily appeal to all generations. I would seek out other locations when visiting another city because I know my experience there can be the same as my Chicago experience or completely different if I decide I want to try something local. For those of us who are looking for an experience that is unique – this is an ideal one!