A fine dining Brazilian steakhouse concept doesn’t seem like it would translate well to delivery, but Fogo De Chão, king of all Brazilian steakhouses in the U.S., is giving it a try.
Talking this week to Nation’s Restaurant News, Fogo De Chão CEO Barry McGowan said his company will test a delivery platform in three different markets in 2019. Those markets are most likely to be Dallas, Chicago, and Los Angeles, according to NRN.
Fogo De Chão is best known for its steakhouses, or churrascarias, where customers pay a fixed fee for a rodízio-style meal where waiters roam the dining room offering an endless array of different meats they hack off skewers right at the table, which is part of the fun.
That’s a part that won’t translate to delivery. However the Dallas, TX-based chain is also known for high-quality meats, which will certainly be available for delivery customers. Fogo De Chão’s Market Table portion of the menu, which offers salads, cheeses, and side vegetables, will also be available for the delivery program. And while a typical Tuesday night order won’t come with your own personal server to rove about your apartment with the meat, McGowan indicated the company would bring a grill and set up shop at major off-premises events.
What it won’t do is third-party delivery. McGowan said he wants his company to retain control over everything involved in the delivery process, including in-house packaging. “We want to control our experience,” he told NRN. “With third party, there’s a big disconnect there.”
By that he’s likely referring to the problems restaurants — chains and indie businesses alike — encounter when putting their food journey into the hands of third parties. From basic branding issues to quality control over the food itself, restaurants who opt to use services like Grubhub or Uber Eats have less control over what happens to the food in-transit and how customer service is handled. They also have to surrender about 15–20 percent of any given order to third parties, which starts to add up over time.
Some restaurants have been extremely vocal about keeping their delivery in-house. Earlier this year, sandwich chain Jimmy John’s vowed to “never” use third-party delivery because the quality of such services don’t meet company standards. Domino’s believes keeping its own drivers gives it a competitive advantage. The Olive Garden dabbled in third-party delivery but pulled back, saying it couldn’t replicate the Olive Garden experience in a delivery realm.
That last issue — replicating the experience — may prove challenging for Fogo De Chão. As a higher-end eating establishment where show and style are as much a part of the meal as their Beef Ancho and candied bacon, customers pay in part for the fun of enjoying the full restaurant experience with friends and family. In the case of Fogo De Chão, that would include the roving servers, gigantic skewers of meat, and trips to the market table to hand-pick side items. Unless you have a lot of money to burn on a Tuesday night, those aren’t things you can order via even the slickest of mobile apps.
That said, individual dining is only one section of the off-premises world. Fogo De Chão could well find its niche with offsite events like large parties, corporate gatherings, or weddings, where they could bring more of the in-house experience to an off-premises setting.
McGowan said that after beta testing in 2019, a national delivery program will roll out most likely in 2020.