The upmarket establishment offers a menu that directly competes with more commonplace brands such as McCormick and Schmick’s or Sullivan’s Steakhouse. From the masculine stained wood interior to amply cushioned booths and the steamed asparagus we’ve come to expect as an accompanying side dish, this restaurant has honed the precise formula for conservative yet contemporary chic.
(My apologies for the poor photo quality; I had to take the pictures on the sly from a 1-megapixel cell phone.)
Hold your breath: Kincaid’s is a chain. But, unlike the aforementioned competitors, it’s not (yet) a ubiquitous mega-store found in every major
And immediately upon entering the restaurant one spots this large vignette from a historic bicycle race, among the early Indianapolis competitions that established Marshall Walter “Major” Taylor as a pre-eminent young cyclist before racial discrimination forced him to seek his fortunes in the Northeast and in Europe. The Major Taylor Velodrome in near-Northwest
The remainder of the restaurant is filled with other images evoking the city’s past, from the fairgrounds at
While unremarkable on their own, these framed wall ornaments surpass anything I have ever seen before in terms of restaurant’s expenditures to convey a vaguely local flavor. Other chain businesses have attempted this, but rarely to my knowledge at this capacity or level of expense. Virtually every object mounted to the walls contains some reference to
Kincaid’s is hardly the first enterprise to attempt this with its interiors. The upper-middle market fast food chain McAlister’s Deli, with far more locations, has allowed its franchisees to decorate the walls with sports memorabilia from the colleges and high schools in their respective communities. However, McAlister’s genuinely began as an unassuming little hang-out that made it big: its original location in a converted old gas station in
What do these choices of interior say about consumer preferences? Could it be that Restaurants Unlimited knew that if their concept in
Parking lots the size of cornfields comprise the vista from the front, while the back of the structure features outdoor seating in which careful landscaping buffers the view of a six-lane highway. No doubt the market analysts working for Restaurants Unlimited studied the purchasing power and buying practices of west Carmel to a tee in order to determine that Kincaid’s would succeed there. But not all there efforts have been successful: the withering economy has killed a number of restaurants across the country, including a year-old branch of Kincaid’s in
These gentle attempts at personalization can even take place at the major big-box establishments. Witness how many Home Depot chain’s feature the name of the state under their respective logo out front: “[Your State Here]’s Home Improvement Warehouse”. Granted, this approach is slightly less precise (and not consistently applied in some of the newer Home Depot models) but it requires a greater degree of specialization in sign production. The technique does, however, yield one obvious caveat already hinted at before: if this evolves into a widespread tactic adopted by national chains everywhere, it, too, will become assimilated into the same tired formula as mahogany booths and steamed asparagus.