This traveler’s favorite highway exit rest stop is getting a makeover! The old timey country store/eatery is in the works to revamp and join the fast casual movement. The company’s strategy to expand the brand is no surprise considering fast casual now makes up the majority of food services sales. As the concept is still in its early stages of development, there are minimal details available, but we can expect to see the new format by July 2016. Do you think the brand has what it takes to create a successful fast casual with a new twist on Southern Hospitality? Read More
Look out America! Fast casual dining has entered the food industry, and it isn’t going leaving anytime soon. Restaurants in this category, such as Chipotle, Panera Bread, and Shake Shack, have watched their sales skyrocket in a short period of time as consumers are proving the successful idea of charging extra for a better product in an easy-going atmosphere.
While this area of food service is relatively new, consumers and restaurant operators can agree that the system is only getting stronger. In promoting higher-quality food, a more transparent environment, and sustainable practices, fast casual restaurants are making it their mission to emphasize an overall pleasurable experience from start to finish. It’s an experience that has everyone talking and longer-standing fast food chains rushing to adopt the same approach.
At this point, with society discovering the best “bang for their buck” when it comes to a valuable dining experience, the model of fast casual is here to stay. Read more here.
No one can argue that the “fast casual” restaurant chains are making their debut in America. The idea of higher-quality ingredients served at an efficient rate for a few more bucks out of your pocket is redefining the food industry, while forcing the larger fast food chains to adapt or give up the fight.
Steve Ells, Founder and CEO of Chipotle Mexican Grill, initiated the rise of this new business model with the opening of the first Chipotle in 1993. Combining a passion for culinary arts, a little support from family and friends, and eventually an investment from a major restaurant chain, McDonalds, his restaurant has risen to a multi-billion dollar company in the span of two decades. Where did this restaurant plant its roots and what has made it so successful with the American public?
Applying this idea of “fast casual” service largely differed from the fast food model on which McDonalds had built their empire, and eventually led to their split with the chain in 2008. Not only did Chipotle succeed from the idea of serving “food with integrity,” they created an entirely new business model that revolutionized the existing models in the industry and left fast food chains, including McDonalds, struggling to keep up. Read more about Chipotle’s history here.
The long expected rules are finally official. The Federal Trade Commission has just required restaurant chains to publish all calorie counts on menus boards. All brands over 20 locations must abide to the rule, and it seems to be widely accepted.
"We believe that the Food and Drug Administration has positively addressed the areas of greatest concern with the proposed regulations and is providing the industry with the ability to implement the law in a way that will most benefit consumers." National Restaurant Association CEO Dawn Sweeney comments.
The NRA, along with 70 other groups, pushed for the national menu labeling standard to be implemented. With a year to comply with the new rule, restaurants are able to obtain these counts from nutrient databases, nutrition facts labels, and 'other reasonable means.' Read more here.
What's a better way to get customers into your store than giving away free grub?! Uhhhh, NOTHING. Fired Pie is introducing itself to the Tucson location with free pizza and salads for dine-in diners. Too good to be true? Nope it's true .... BUT the brand is requesting customers to being a non-perishable item to donate to the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona.
What is so special about Fired Pie compared to the other fast casual pizza brands around the block? Just like any, you choose your crust, sauce, cheese and toppings, but this pizza only takes 90 seconds. CRAZY FAST. Read more about Fired Pizza here.
We all know that Wynwood is Miami's HOTTEST neighborhood, but what is it missing? It has the art, the people, and the vibes.... All Wynwood is missing is some good grub.
The Canadian chain Freshii has just opened it's doors in Wynwood, serving fresh and healthy fast casual "They [NY] had fresh food, salads, wraps, lousy branding, lousy service, and what I wanted to do was basically create a brand around the ability to customize and eat clean food." And he did just that. Opening their first 100 restaurants faster than Starbucks, McDonald's and Subway, Freshii is soon to expand to great lengths in the US. Coming to Dadeland, Fort Lauderdale, Boca and Jupiter. Read more here.
The grilled cheese guru The Melt just announced the launch of new products in their San Francisco-based locations. Their new items include: an original burger melt, spicy mission burger melt, double bacon BBQ burger melt, Caesar spinach bird chicken melt, 'shroom chicken melt, Buffalo chicken melt, truffle grilled cheese melt, trio macaroni + cheese, naked fries with Melt Spice, well-dressed fries with aged cheeses bacon and onions.
CEO and Chairperson Jonathan Kaplan reports in a company press release: "Our founding mission was to serve happiness to families through 100% all-natural wholesome American classics, We're thrilled that our new menu is the evolution of our mission to ensure American families can enjoy the foods they love while also being good for you. Read more about The Melt here.
As the fast casual industry grows, so does the companies associated with them. Middleby Corp is the maker of all kitchen appliances has just grown to extraordinary lengths. Why? Well they can be found in any Panera Bread, Chipotle or Starbucks. Yeah, see the popularity now?
With Middleby's stock up 16 percent this year, the fast casual industry is all over these professional appliances, making them in high demand across the nation. And they are sure to only rise even more. Read more here.
This holiday season, Tim Hortons Cafe & Bake Shop is not holding back one ... sweater?
Hortons fans are encouraged to participate in #TimsTackSweater campaign, where during the holiday promotion period they can receive prize-pack giveaways. On Twitter, Instagram and Vine all participants have the ability to be entered for a chance to win. Trying to reach the most consumers possible, Tim's got some social celebrities in on the action. These personalities include Toast Meets World, a King Charles Cavalier rescue dog with 127,000 Instagram followers, KC James, Vine celebrits with 4.3M followers, and Hilary Knight, 2x Olympic silver medalist with 45,500 Twitter followers.
The brand plans to participate in the Thanksgiving Parade, at goodwill stores, local events, and NHL + NFL teams to promote their holiday items. They also plan to send brand ambassadors dressed in tacky sweaters to sample their new coffee and hot chocolate. Smart, Tim! Read more here.
Oh, Hello Kitty!!! The company behind the iconic Hello Kitty, Sanrio announced that the first U.S. Hello Kitty Cafe will be opening in the city of Orange Kitty. With the launch of this fast casual dining experience, the brand plans to share the idea with consumers through the use of a Hello Kitty Cafe Food Truck, hitting the streets over the holidays. The HK food truck serves pastries, cakes and donuts to consumers, with none other than Miss Hello Kitty appearing on the packaging. "We think Hello Kitty fans are right in line with our demographic and we're honored Hello Kitty picked Irvine Spectrum Center to visit." says Stacie Ellis, senior marketing director for Irvine Company Retail Properties. Read more here.
In 2008, the Courtyard by Marriott introduced a new concept throughout their locations. The Courtyard Bistro "coffee house meets open kitchen" fast casual concept features ready-to-go food, quickly-prepared hot entrees and Starbucks beverages for all guests to enjoy. But why the switch? Courtyard noticed that their guests would skip the traditional lobby buffet and heading to a local Starbucks or better food selection. With the new bistro addition, there has been a 27-percent increase in guests recommending to their friends to visit a Courtyard by Marriott. Read more about the switch here.
As a senior in college, Robert Mayer and Max Steir decided that their campus of Michigan State needed more healthy options to choose from. With the opening of their dining experience, Salad UP, they friends are offering cold pressed juices, soups, wraps and 40 different types of organic fruits and vegetables to top their salads. The brand is catering to the young millennials in the area, and with the Salads UP crew all being under the age of 26 they are sure to do just that. Read more here.
A fresh-made, customized pizza cooked right before your eyes in just 2 minutes. Is this real life? It sure is, and coincidentally, the pizzeria with this fast-paced concept is 800 degrees, very clever. The chain is expanding from the Los Angeles area, and expanding almost as quickly as their pizza dough. The gourmet flair to their pizzas, as well as the speed of service, is getting consumers interested and hungry. Now, even though this is 'fast food' the vibe within the walls of 800 Degrees is 100% fast casual. From self-serve soda fountains ceramic plates and metal forks, the environment screams fast casual. Read more here.
Fast Casual has exploded over the recent years, luring in consumers with the fresh prepared options that Millennials crave. Mediterranean pita sandwiches, hummus, kabobs and tabouli flood the menu of Zoe's kitchen, and with 125 locations in 15 states, "Zoe's us 'one of the best-in-history up-and-coming restaurant concepts... Zoe's early stage momentum and store-level profitability is outpacing Chipotle and Panera's early-stage results." Analysts report. Year-over-year sales have grown at exponential rates, clocking 45% increases in each of the past four quarters. Read more about Zoe's here.
We are starting to see a trend of fine dining chefs who are developing casual dining concepts. Recently, Saison's Joshua Skenes partnered with Umami Burger's Adam Fleishman to create Fat Noodle, a fast casual restaurant. Michelin-starred chef Daniel Patterson partnered with street food guru Roy Choi to develop the fast-food concept Loco'l. So why are so many fine dining chefs trying to get into the fast casual market? Chef José Andrés says that chefs "need to be [better at] influencing how to feed the many." Many people cannot afford Michelin Star restaurants but the chefs of these restaurants have the ability to create affordable, quality, fast casual concepts that everyone can enjoy. Having fast casual restaurants also allows these fine dining chefs to cook other food that they may love, but cannot put on their tasting menus. To learn more about these chefs' insights as well as the new fast casuals that will be hitting the market, click here.
The 2014 Fast Casual Summit offered a session, "Getting Your Beverage Offerings on Trend," where new beverage trends were discussed. Experts are noticing that consumers are moving towards healthier, more complex drinks than the typical sugary, carbonated ones that have been popular in the past. Craft soda is experiencing a surge of popularity as well as high quality tea and iced tea blends. Fast casuals can really use this iced tea trend to their advantage by creating innovative drinks that separate themselves from other restaurants. Fast casuals might also be taking advantage of alcohol trends soon. When you think of a fast casual, you typically think of lunch. However, some brands such as Fatburger, are experimenting with adding alcohol to their menus in order to create a more 'dinner feel.' Pretty soon, we may start seeing these trends more and more in the fast casual industry. To learn more about the emerging beverage trends that were discussed during this session, click here.
El Pollo Loco is taking a page from the fast casual handbook and launching a five week experiment offering customizable bowls. The brand hopes to stand out from other quick service restaurants such as McDonald's that are also testing out customizable options, by offering their Create Your Own Bowl promotion via their drive thru's as well. El Pollo Loco hopes to capture the attention of 'mainstream foodies on the go' who don't have a lot of time but want quick, high quality food. One of the challenges the restaurant anticipates is maintaining their four minute serve time average. However, in test locations, the ordering process has remained quite swift. To learn more about this new option, click here.
Chipotle has been a role model for many fast casual and quick serve restaurants that want to take their brand to the next level. It may be shocking to know that Chipotle spends less than two percent of its revenue on advertising compared to the five percent standard. They believe that storytelling is much more beneficial than traditional marketing tactics, and it seems to be working. For example, the Chipotle brand looks at the big picture and is changing the way the world thinks about fast food. By telling their story of using quality ingredients, they have been able to gain a loyal following, especially among millennials. QSRs such as Taco Bell are now following suit. In August, Taco Bell opened up a restaurant to test a more upscale food concept. There they serve American meals with a Mexican twist that really stand out compared to the original Taco Bell menu. As QSRs continue to struggle, many brands are learning that changes must be made. To learn more, click here.
Today's fast food industry cares about cost and ease over quality ingredients and taste. However, consumers are more conscious about what they are putting into their bodies and would rather pay extra for a healthy sustainable meal over getting something off of a dollar menu. Chipotle proves once again that spending more on fresh ingredients and charging a fair price will generate great business. Chipotle's success is evident this year as it opens 132 new restaurants. Chipotle's new concepts, ShopHouse Southeast Asian Kitchen and Pizzeria Locale are also experiencing success. Although Chipotle anticipates slower, steady growth in 2015, you can bet that they will still be the top choice over QSR's such as McDonalds. To learn more about Chipotle's success this quarter, click here.
Even though restaurant operators across the globe are in search of the out-of-the-box idea for the next restaurant idea they all have one common goal, creating the ultimate experience.
Innovation drives the customer experience, and state-of-the-art delivery service is a key quality of a successful restaurant - right along with the quality of your food. The Melt restaurant has been gaining public attention due to their new and innovative catering packaging. The Smart Box thermal food container gives The Melt the ability to keep their sandwiches hot during the process of delivery. Even Francesco's Pizzeria in Mumbai, India is now using drones to deliver their pizza's quickly and efficiently. Now thats smart! Read more here about the food delivery experience.