Reports of Casual Dining’s Death Are Greatly Exaggerated

Reports of Casual Dining's Death Are Greatly Exaggerated

Segment pioneer Bennigan’s stays true to heritage, remains relevant, keeps growing

Conventional wisdom among today’s restaurant industry pundits is that casual dining chains are destined for the history books, squeezed out of the marketplace by polished casual brands from above and upstart fast casual concepts from below.

Reports of Casual Dining's Death Are Greatly Exaggerated

Paul Mangiamele
Bennigan’s President & CEO

Bennigan’s begs to differ.

The nearly 40-year-old brand that introduced consumers to casual dining has returned to its roots and is once again redefining the segment. With its dedication to innovative, chef-driven food, signature cocktails and Legendary guest experiences, Bennigan’s has differentiated itself from its competitors and carved out a successful niche in the restaurant landscape.

“Today’s Bennigan’s is the antithesis of the casual dining brands that are resorting to gimmickry to drive traffic,” said Paul Mangiamele, CEO of Bennigan’s Franchising Company. “Rather than cutting back on quality and raising prices, we take pride in continuing to serve up our made-from-scratch Irish Tower O’Rings, World Famous Monte Cristos, Turkey O’Tooles and other signature items that our guests have always loved. We’ve held the line on prices and never compromised on our guest service. Our value proposition is arguably the best in casual dining because our focus is on the experience, not the transaction.”

Bennigan’s has long been recognized for its generous portions and reasonable prices, which translate to exceptional value for its guests. A robust beverage menu featuring more than 20 unique craft cocktails – including its Signature Irish Coffee, the Stout Bloody Mary made with GUINNESS, and the decadent Death by Chocolate Martini – keeps guests coming back for more.

“When you serve freshly made food and drinks in ample portions, there’s no need to sacrifice your integrity with all-you-can-eat stunts or excessive couponing,” explained Mangiamele. “Customers will remain loyal if you stay true to your brand and give them a memorable dining experience every meal, every day. That includes the delivery of excellent service, something that has slipped in most full service brands.”

Mangiamele noted that while he continues to lead Bennigan’s expansion from coast to coast and around the globe, he is likewise preparing to re-introduce the venerable Steak and Ale brand to American consumers. “Together with our franchisees and supplier partners, we are applying the discipline necessary to find great sites and great people,” he noted.

Reports of Casual Dining's Death Are Greatly Exaggerated

Bennigan’s is preparing for its second major comeback initiative:
the beloved Steak and Ale brand.

“We were so gratified to witness the deep emotional connection to Bennigan’s, we decided to see if they are as passionate about Steak and Ale,” said Mangiamele. “Well, the response has been overwhelming. In short order, more than 40,000 former guests urged us to bring back this iconic brand. Everyone I talk to has fond memories of celebrating family occasions at Steak and Ale, and they all remember the warm bread, succulent Prime Rib, Kensington Club steak and bountiful salad bar. We can’t wait to service that pent-up demand.”

“Casual dining isn’t going anywhere,” concluded Mangiamele. “While it’s true that the playing field has shifted, great brands can be resilient because guests remember what legendary restaurant experiences were like and they’re longing for their return. That nostalgic emotional connection is what has fueled Bennigan’s amazing comeback, and what will drive Steak and Ale’s future success. While we must be more diligent than ever to appeal to more savvy and food-sophisticated guests, the sounding of the death knell is inaccurate and premature.”

Bennigan’s is a high-energy neighborhood restaurant and tavern that is redefining casual dining. With chef-driven food, innovative drinks and warm, friendly Irish Hospitality, this Legendary brand delivers memorable dining experiences to every guest, every meal, every day. Every member of the team “bleeds green” and demonstrates a 25/8 focus to support its franchise community. The company’s revolutionary comeback has introduced a new generation of Bennigan’s that reflects the brand’s history and pays respect to its rich heritage. Bennigan’s focus on reinvention, flexible prototypes, Legendary service and compelling returns on investment has resulted in explosive growth both domestically and internationally.

For franchising information, visit or call 855-GOT-BENN.