term for everything from Outback Steakhouse
to Olive Garden
, including Applebees
, TGI Friday's
Casual dining restaurants are usually marketed to the middle class customer; they offer more service than fast food while not reaching the quality or price of fine dining.
Most casual dining restaurants are part of a franchise that provides the theme. Themes can be ethnic/national (Tex-Mex, Chinese, Italian, faux Irish, Cracker), product-centered (steakhouse, seafood), or just Lots Of Weird Crap Glued To The Wall (Applebee's clones).
Casual dining chains in the US include:
(Additions welcome. /msg me about any national chains I've forgotten.)
SOURCE: http://www.fool.com/news/2001/osi010215.htm is a good overview of the casual dining industry.