The Capital Grille is one of the many brands operated by Darden Restaurants . But out of all the fine-dining chains that the firm owns, including Eddie V's Prime Seafood and Season 52, The Capital Grille is the most successful. The fine-dining segment is crowded with other upscale steakhouses, including Ruth's Chris Steak House, Morton's The Steakhouse, Fleming's Prime Steakhouse, Texas De Brazil, and Shula's Steak House– to name a few. Nonetheless, this restaurant continues to expand, with over 50 restaurants in roughly 20 states.
How the Brand Reached Success Against the Odds
The opening of the first The Capital Grille was risky for two reasons. One being that it first opened in 1990, during the ongoing recession and in Providence, RI. Downtown Providence was not the downtown it is today with the upscale and dining at Providence Place (which opened in 1999.) The downtown area was a bit rundown and was needing some tender love and care. However, this is where the founder Edward P. "Ned" Grace, III decided to open the first location. From humble beginnings, the restaurant's initial success lead to the opening of other chains in city markets, including the neighboring cities Boston and DC. The Providence location is projected to move by July 2015 from it's original location to a larger location in the GTECH center. The fine-dining restaurant has been celebrated today with several awards– the brand was named one of the top 50 American restaurants in Open Table’s Diners’ Choice Awards and has won a number of “Best of Awards of Excellence” from Wine Spectator magazine.
The Dining Experience from a Consumer's Prospective
A restaurant's scenery is important in any segment. But, in the fine dining segment the expectations are high– and well they should be! The interior dining atmosphere is similar to that of an American Country club, with the dark wood furnishings and animal mounts on the walls. The decor is conservative, yet cosy. You feel as though you are in a sophisticated cigar bar, minus the smoke smell.
Meal selection is a la carte. The soups and salads are familiar names to seasoned restaurant diners and the portions are decently sized. The main courses and appetizers consist of primarily seafood and dry-aged steak. The sides are "to share" and they mean it. They are large portions, including the Lobster Mac 'N' Cheese, Creamed Corn with Smoked Bacon, and Roasted Wild Mushrooms. The menu or the waiter will often mention the Chef's Suggestions, which is great for the indicative diner like myself. They also offer an impressive gluten free menu that is essentially identical to the regular menu.
The price point for this fine-dining restaurant is relatively low for the segment. Appetizers range from roughly $13-30, main courses range from $25-60, and the sides from $9-18.
A fine-dining menu is not complete without an excessive wine list and this is the case at The Capital Grille. They offer over 350 world-class wines from all over the world. The server will present the wine top picks that compliment their dishes, perfectly.
Again, when consumers go out to a restaurant, they are not just looking for a meal that isn't made from ingredient in their home pantry. Especially at fine-dining, consumers go to these restaurants to feel special or as a reward. This means it is important to cater to the guests and fulfill these expectations. For special occasions at The Capital Grille, guests often receive complimentary champagne or dessert. Consumers have been rather active in expressing their dining experience at these restaurants. The chains are highly reviewed by customers on Urbanspoon, Yelp, and Zagat, primarily because the restaurant has consistently performed high in terms of customer service and the speed of service is quick for this segment. The chain also has received top marks on the Consumer Reports Restaurant Satisfactory Survey for the last few years.
So how did this brand expand during a recession and in a run down part of Providence, RI when it first opened in 1990? And hows does it continue to expand through out the country? Well, it doesn't hurt that the brand is part of one of the most successful restaurant groups in the country. However, it is much more than that– the brand has gained its distinguished reputation by offering a consistently tasty menu with variety, a carefully selected and vast wine menu, and by providing excellent customer service, all in a cozy, yet elegant atmosphere.