Why America's Aging Casual-Dining Chains Are Quietly Building Fast-Casual Restaurants

The scramble to get millennial diners in the door

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Late in 2015, a new restaurant opened in Winter Park, Fla., a northern suburb of Orlando. It’s a big room with exposed ductwork, an open kitchen along one wall and a long bar skirting the other. The cooks there cut and smoke all the meats in house, and many of the ingredients are locally sourced. The patrons, not surprisingly, skew young, which also probably explains menu items like chicken waffles, Wonuts (a hybrid of waffles and donuts) and a pretzel braid appetizer that comes with a Samuel Adams cheese fondue.

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