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Five Ways to Build a Bustproof Restaurant for the Future

Survival strategies à la carte.


The full-service, mid-price, low-volume business model isn’t working anymore, as our April feature "The Great Restaurant Deluge" attests. But here are five restaurant concepts that have a (better than average) fighting chance.

Chipotle + tablecloths: There’s counter service, yes, but also decent wine and candles on the tables. In short: You can take a date here.
See: Souvla, Little Gem

The 1 percent wonder: So Saison raised its tasting menu price by $150? Pfft. That’s what I found in my couch cushions yesterday.
See: Benu, Quince

McDonald's with feelings: Your burger gets assembled in front of you and slapped onto a tray, but hey, the patty is grass-fed.
See: Super Duper Burger, Asian Box

Sweet deliverance: Volume, baby, volume. Thanks to delivery apps like UberEats, transcending a restaurant’s (hopelessly 20th-century) four walls has never been easier—or, frankly, more necessary.
See: the upcoming Sababa, Souvla

The bespoke hole-in-the-wall: Small is beautiful. It means a small staff and, thus, smaller labor costs. It also means that it takes fewer customers to make the place look like it’s thumping. Lines: also beautiful.
See: Leo’s Oyster Bar, AL’s Place


Originally published in the April issue of San Francisco 

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