Daniel Humm and Will Guidara have been working since 2006 at Eleven Madison Park, a restaurant in Manhattan’s Flatiron District. They were initially hired to run the kitchen. Now, they boast a three star rating from the Michelin Guide and a No. 5 slot on the annual list of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants. Daniel and Will have changed the way people dine and are trying to reform the concept of fast food. Now, these guys have decided to convert it to a counter-service restaurant called Made Nice.
Made Nice: a self-financed venture
The lighting at Made Nice will vary according to the time of day. At Made Nice, plates composed of seasonal vegetables, grains, proteins and starches will be served on stoneware by Jono Pandolfi, who is known for his designs and artistic plates. Daniel Humm and Will Guidara initially searched investors for Made Nice but then decided to take a brave decision and finance the restaurant themselves.
These fast food restaurants are the new fad in American food culture. They are being called “fast casual” restaurants, and operators like McDonald’s are rapidly losing market share to these restaurants. The chef and author of “The Third Plate: Field Notes on the Future of Food” said, “I don’t think there’s any going back. I don’t think we’re going to be looking at less interesting fast-food options by way of quality and ethos down the road. And I don’t think we’ve hit the high-water mark yet. I think there’s been a wide open, oversized bulls-eye waiting for the right kind of fast-food restaurants to hit it, and by hitting it, I mean doing things that go against our association with what it means to eat fast food.”
A smart investment in the rapidly growing industry
The American Food Industry has been growing rapidly. It is estimated that Americans spend about $200 billion on fast food each year. These fast casual restaurants have grown to roughly 10 percent of that total. The sales have risen more than 500 percent in the past fifteen years. Chefs and restaurateurs have reached cultural prominence and are driving change. This major cultural shift has reaped the rewards.
Made Nice is one of the prominent state-of-the-art kitchens at Eleven Madison Park. There are others, too, who have been a part of the revolution. Randy Garutti, 40-year-old CEO of Shake Shack Inc. says, “We started off as a hot-dog cart. The food was cooked in a court-bouillon in the Eleven Madison kitchen. We had incredibly long lines from the first day.” But Garutti does not prefer being called fast casual. “We prefer ‘fine casual’. Fast casual is what the industry calls it, but we’re bringing 30 years of history in fine dining to what we’re doing,” says Garutti.
And because of all these fast casual restaurants profiting, the fast food chains are definitely taking a hit. Just in September, a fast casual restaurant based in Maryland called Casa Grill raised $44 million. Another restaurant, Sweetgreen, which is present in more than 30 locations around the country, raised a total of $35 million.