Houston-based Dish Society aims to provide an elevated, largely locally sourced meal at a reasonable price in a flexible serving format.
“We really want to deliver a $30 for $20 experience,” said Aaron Lyons, founder and CEO of the six-unit brand’s parent company, Five 12 Restaurant Concepts. “That’s our goal at Dish Society.”
The eight-year-old concept, which offers counter service for breakfast and lunch and table service for dinner, has grown for its all-day menu and best-selling items like the Farmers Plate, which offers a choice of protein (chicken, steak, brisket, shrimp, salmon or beef) and two sides between $12.29 and $18.70.
Seeking to fill a personal need in the restaurant market for something between fast-casual Chipotle and upscale Houston/Hillstone, Lyons created Dish Society in 2014 and in January added the upscale Daily Gather concept to the mix.
Check averages per person at Dish Society are around $20. The restaurants cover 3,000 to 4,000 square feet with 100 seats inside.
“The menu itself is locally sourced, seasonal, farm-to-table,” Lyons said. “About 75% of everything on our menu comes from the Houston and surrounding area. … We partner with a lot of local vendors, so it’s a chef-led, fast-casual kind of restaurant. Four of the Dish Society locations serve liquor, beer, and wine.
Sales for the day are around 40% each for lunch and dinner and 10% each for breakfast and “afternoon social hour”. Off-premises has increased during the pandemic and accounts for 30-50% of sales, Lyons said.
All six restaurants are in the Houston area, with the most recent opening being the relocation and expansion of the Katy, Texas restaurant, which opened in March 2021.
Lyons, who wrote Dish Society’s business plan when he was getting his master’s degree, teamed up with Trent Patterson, an undergraduate fraternity brother who had worked with Chick-fil-A, to run operations. . The Culinary Director is Brandi Key.
Dish Society is looking to target the young professional between the ages of 25 and 55, Lyons said.
“They’re at the beginning of their family, starting their family,” he said. “They move in or buy their first house, have their first children. And they are wealthy and educated and care about what they eat and make conscious decisions about it. They appreciate convenience and want to have a relationship with the brand they are consuming from.
The decor package has evolved over the past 10 years since Lyons designed the first unit, he said, going from a modern barn look with Edison bulbs and reclaimed wood to “a more modern, cooler, lighter and airier, using a lot more whites, a lot more lighter woods, comfortable seating Lighting can be dimmed in the evening for a full-service ambiance, he said added.
Even before the pandemic, outdoor seating was important to the Houston brand, Lyons said. A 500 to 1,500 square foot patio is “a deal breaker for us. We don’t even look at places that don’t have the capacity to put 60-100 seats on the patio.
As for future growth, which Lyons says is likely to be primarily in Texas, most markets can accommodate multiple Dish Society units and possibly a Daily Gather, which Lyons expects to achieve around 150% of Dish Society sales. a Dish Society.
“Dish Society is our vehicle for growth,” he said, “and we’re going to put most of our energy and effort into growing it. Daily Gather will kind of be the companion once we open up a new market and identify where we want to be. Next, we’ll start figuring out where we want to put a Daily Gather.
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