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.
Apparently we have been making pizza crust wrong since World War II, according to Chipotle's Pizzeria Locale. Bobby Stuckey, cofounder of the pizzeria claims that the flour that has been used for decades is not tasty nor healthy. Rather than use the same traditional double-zero flour like everybody else, Pizzeria Locale makes their new crust from Edison Wheat, which has more flavor and nutrients. With this new development, Chipotle continues to change the food industry, particularly for quick service and fast casual restaurants. To learn more, click here!
Calling all Vegans! You're in luck, Native Foods Cafe is making it's way across the country as what's known to be called the 'hippie movement.'
Everything on the Native Foods Cafe menu is 100% vegan, even the American classics mac & cheese and the bacon cheeseburger. How is this possible you ask? Co-owners Jackie Perez and Andrea McGinty have altered everyday favorites into vegan delicacies and by mapping out proteins which their dishes provide, customers have a better feeling of knowing what's in their foods. Since their September 30th opening, the DC location has accumulated over 600 customers a day. WOW. Looking forward to seeing what's next for this fast casual restaurant on the rise. Read more here
Salsarita's Fresh Cantina opened their newest location in September at Indian Land, SC. What's different about this restaurant compared to the other branches Salsarita's obtains is the new prototype design that is a template for all future stores.
This new design was created to better serve customers. By offering a curved-like service line, Salsaritians are able to tend to their customers at a quicker rate, which of course leads to happier customers. The new 'fresh' look is the beginning of a new re-brand of the company. With a new color scheme, branded graphics, and digital menu boards the new look will be coming to a town near you! Read more here.
We all know that here in America fast casual restaurant popularities are skyrocketing, but what about in our neighboring countries? This articles explores Canada and what struggles they are facing in the fast casual and limited-service segments.
Canadian consumers want more. They want the American high-tech living that we all currently reside in. Some requests within their fast casual segments include attributes that American companies have already possessed: WiFi, loyalty programs, etc. What else can these quick-serve, limited-service and fast casual restaurants offer to customers to make them more attractive? Pretty much the same changes that we are experiencing here in America, check them out here.
Nation's Restaurant News's 2013 Breakout Brand, Asian Box, is seeking growth in the challenging fast-casual market. By the end of 2015, CEO Frank Klein hopes to open double the amount of restaurants. He talks about the importance of growth and the impact of Asian cuisine in the fast-casual segment. This genre of food is not only high in flavor but also if done right, healthier than typical American dishes. The brand is also testing out a concept called Bar in The Box, with the hopes of providing delicious, affordable beverages and taking more traffic away from expensive Asian restaurants. To learn more about Asian Box and the challenges of the fast-casual segment, click here.
Yum! Brands is testing out a new Vietnamese fast-food concept in Texas: Banh Shop. Opening in two separate locations in Dallas, this Vietnamese fast-food concept seeks to challenge Chipotle's Southeast Asian offshoot, ShopHouse. The focus of this restaurant is on Bánh Mì sandwiches, which are typically filled with pork belly, Vietnamese sausage, or grilled pork with cilantro, pickled carrots, and cucumbers inside a baguette. The restaurant also has menu items such as "The American" which uses ham and salami, that will help attract domestic markets.
Is the U.S. fast-casual segment ready for Southeast Asian Cuisine? This new idea just might be what the fast-casual industry is missing. If you love Bánh Mì and want to learn more, click here.
The fast casual industry continues to grow as more and more people discover the importance of what they are putting into their bodies. You can be sure that fast casual restaurants will provide you with healthier, higher quality food than our cheap, go-to QSR: McDonalds. Consumers also appreciate the cleaner and inviting environments that fast casual restaurants provide over fast-food chains. FastCasual.com looked at the restaurants in the industry and compiled the top 50 restaurants according to unit and revenue growth. Smashburger took the number one spot, beating out big favorites Chipotle and Panera. Smashbuger introduced new items that play off one of America's favorite food, the burger, thanks to their new CEO who gives credit to their renewed focus on menu innovation. To learn more about the rankings and Smashburger's success, click here.
Johnny Rockets is launching a drive thru spinoff called, Route 66, that will focus on entering the 'better burger segment'. This new concept will allow the company to grow their market by making it easier to expand across the U.S. At the same time, it will also allow Johnny Rockets to compete with fast casual brands as well as pull in diners. Johnny Rockets is going after individuals who are willing to pay higher prices for better quality food. In order to stand out and attract their target demographic, Johnny Rockets is incorporating enhanced technology in their drive thru, from video monitors to relay an order to entertaining videos up until customers get their food. Apart from the drive thru, there are three other prototypes including a drive-in movie restaurant, a food truck, and a pop-up. To learn more about what Johnny Rockets has in store, click here.
POS systems are a key component to running a smooth operating system in the restaurant industry. What if yours went out mid-day lunch rush because a glass of water spilt on it? A total OMG moment.
This is why testing out POS systems before purchase is IDEAL and RECOMMENDED! Yes software and hardware are all equally as important to the system itself, but let's take a look at how a situation out of our hands can effect the company. If your company offers outdoor dining, seaside, the salty air and weather conditions can take a toll on your outdoor POS system. Nobody wants to delay their customers because of a faulty system. So think ahead! Test out your system before purchase, you never know what you might find yourself getting into. Read more here.
Fast casual is stealing the spotlight from QSR by the minute, can you blame em'?
With the decrease of QSR popularity, fast casual dining is winning the hearts of not only the millennial generation, but generation z and the baby boomers are not far behind. From a recent study conducted, the baby boomer generation saw a 18-percent decrease in QSR visits where generation Z only saw 11-percent. Why such a large jump you ask? Well lets think about the ages here, as a baby boomer you are able to afford the higher cost of fast casual dining. Even though this cost is not sky-rocketing high, it is a cost in which the young generation Z's are not able to afford at the moment. With millennials at an alarming 20-percent decrease in visits to QSR and a 42-percent increase to fast casual, we are able to the the generation in which fast casual has impacted most. Read more here.
Chipotle is swimming in cash while McDonalds is .... doing better?
Even with the plethora of consumers switching to fast casual restaurants due to health-related decisions, McDonalds still is #1 on the leaderboard for quick service restaurants, making more than Chipotle. But what about new beginnings?
McDonalds is struggling in the store opening department, dropping 3.7% in august and the third-quarter earnings are not looking that hot either.The reason for this failure? CEO Don Thompson states that "sluggish industry growth in a highly competitive marketplace" is what is holding McDonalds back from its usual glory. Read more about McDonalds struggle here.
COMING SOON: FAT NOODLE, SF
With 2014 quickly coming to an end, as well as fast casual trends at a steady incline, we can almost guarantee that we will be seeing more and more fast casuals popping up within the next year. Saison's very own Josh Skenes, will be launching 'Fat Noodle' in San Francisco in early 2015 or late 2014. A menu consisting of West Chinese flavors and noodles, this fast casual concept is sure to be a hot commodity in the city.
Partnering with Umami Burger's Adam Fleischman, Fat Noodle seems to be an idea sparked quite some time ago. Fleischman enjoyed Skenes meals so much that he began pondering the ability to create a dining experience specifically for him. Learn more about
You heard us right, Ronald McDonald is currently testing the San Diego area with their new state-of-the-art (and customer friendly might we add) Build Your Own Burger concept. This new effort to win the hearts of not only the millenials, but as well as the young, and tech-obsessed generation Z by creating a whole new line of toppings and sauces to play with, as well as providing table-side service. Even though McDonalds is behind other top restaurant chains on a service similar to this concept, it still seems to be making waves. Can we see this in our local McDonalds worldwide in 2015? Read more here.
Kalamazoo, Michigan! Blaze Pizza is coming for you!
The grand opening of Blaze Pizza's third Michigan location will be this Thursday, September 11th at 5015 West Main Street. Through the influence of social media, Blaze will be offering free pizzas at their new location for those that connect with their social accounts. Why is this fast casual chain on the rise to fame? The innovation behind this fast casual concept is very unique compared to others, offering an interactive assembly-line that gives customers the ability to create their own pizza for under the small price of $7.
Not only are these pizzas at the lower end of the fast casual cost scale, but the speed of service has gained much attention. With a record breaking 180-seconds from order placement to table delivery, Blaze has pleased their customers in more ways than one (yes, vegan and gluten-free friendly!) Read more here