Scott believes this can be credited to the segment’s ability to satisfy today’s experience-driven consumer, those who are willing to spend time and disposable income on dining out. It’s this generation’s version of a vacation. And if consumers are not seeking convenience or price, they’re courting ambiance and experience. That’s the sweet spot of fine dining.
“I like to say that the dining experience is the time you have to disconnect from the world and connect with the people you’re dining with,” Scott says. “We’re finding a way for customers to share their experiences with each other, and that’s something not everyone can offer.”
Zeroing in on that guest, Fleming’s drives experience throughout its menu. On Tuesdays, customers can share a “Tomahawk for Two.” It comes with two starters, two sides, two desserts, and a 35-ounce Prime Tomahawk Steak aged a minimum of 21 days and cooked in Fleming’s 1,600-degree broiler Scott is pretty confident couldn’t be picked up at the local grocer. The chain’s “Mondays at Fleming’s” presents a three-course menu with Filet Mignon and Cold-Water Lobster. The “Sunday Table” promotion is another three-course setup, featuring Slow-Roasted Beef Tenderloin, for $45 per guest. Intended, as Fleming’s says, to be a “great meal with the people you love.”
Fleming’s frequently hosts special events, like wine dinners, where it brings in winemakers to chat with guests. The chain earned an Award of Excellence from Wine Spectator six times.
“I think it’s different for every guest, but our thing is, people want to take the time to really engage with each other,” Scott says. “Put the phone down. There will always be that photographable moment. You’re there for a celebration.”
Scott says fine dining covers that corner of the market, too. Fleming’s will see multi-generational celebrations where people who have come to the brand for 15 years introduce their children, grandchildren, to the restaurant. Their fond memories of birthdays, anniversaries, and so on, spent at Fleming’s stick when it’s time to pass the tradition along. Unlike some brands that target solo occasions and spontaneous drop-ins, fine-dining chains illicit fierce loyalty because of life events, and the nostalgia that comes with them.
That can be a blessing and a curse. Fine-dining restaurants have a smaller window to nail the experience. And customers are far less forgiving given the price point.
That rule—it takes three great experiences to win a loyal guest? You could argue it’s one night in the fine-dining space.
“We really want people to walk into a Fleming’s, taste, smell, and feel like they’re in their location,” Scott says.