Simplicity of menu, operations and dayparts gives Get Some Food Group LLC’s Medium Rare concept a facile future.
The 10-year-old Washington, D.C.-based company is looking to take advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic closures to expand its three-unit dinner-brunch-only steak and frites concept to as many as 26 other cities, according to co-founder Mark Bucher.
With a straightforward prix fixe entrée menu of steak and frites for $26, five desserts and tailored wine and cocktails, Medium Rare affixed a French brasserie staple on American shores.
Bucher, who at the time had owned a burger restaurant, and co-founder Tom Gregg opened the first Medium Rare in Washington after working together and discovering a popular Parisian spot devoted to steak frites.
Upon their return to the states, Bucher said they were shown real estate with sparse daytime business but nighttime traffic for an Americanized steak-and-fries restaurant, which opened in April 2011.
“Everyone likes a little simplicity in their life,” Bucher said, “and we’ve never looked back.” Medium Rare opened in Arlington, Va., five years ago and Bethesda, Md., four years ago.
The Get Some Food executives are now looking for sites about 2,700- to 3,000-square feet with patio space. “We are very focused on economics,” Bucher said. “Part of that is occupancy costs, so we keep our spaces smaller. They cost less to occupy, a little less expensive to build and they are full all the time.” Medium Rare units average about 70 seats inside and 40 outside.
The requisite patio seating “creates that critical European feel, which we like,” Bucher said.
The fixe prix menu features one cut of steak and fries and offers add-ons of five desserts — hot fudge sundae, six-layer carrot cake, six-layer chocolate fudge cake, apple pie and key lime pie — and a selection from four red wines, four white wines and four beers. The bar relies on one vodka, one gin, one scotch, one bourbon and one tequila for added cocktail simplicity.
The atmosphere takes a petit swipe at French brasseries, with French instruction tapes in the bathroom with such lines as “Do you want to see my hot tub?” and “I can’t take my eyes off of you.”
The interior features all two-top tables for flexibility in accommodating large parties and small, and it has no booths or banquettes. With patrons predominantly female and aged 21-50, Medium Rare features all diffused lighting and uncomplicated finish-outs, Bucher said.
The pandemic forced Medium Rare to modify much of its to-go operations nearly overnight, Bucher said, and that includes adding a call center for orders and upgrading its off-premise packaging. “We rethought everything within 24 hours,” he said. “It was a great opportunity to transform our business.”
COVID-19 restrictions skyrocketed Medium Rare’s off-premise sales from 10% to 15% before the pandemic to 80% to 90% currently.
Medium Rare sends reheating instructions home with every meal so customers can crisp the fresh-cut fries in their own toaster ovens. “We alter our frying times,” he said.
Hours are simple as well: 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. weekdays, 5 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, and brunch 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. Because of the simple menu prep, kitchen shifts start at 3 p.m., which helps reduce labor costs, Bucher said.
Part of that transformation includes looking at real estate for expansion, especially conversion opportunities in closed restaurant spaces. The expansion is being funded through the company’s own cash flow.
Bucher said the company is looking at opening one destination restaurant in a list of 26 cities — from Atlanta to Seattle and points in between.
“In five years, we might look to bring in funding for a round of expansion,” he said.
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