How Fast-Casual Restaurants Have Become The Dominant Concept In Franchising

Consumers are eating out more, and they’re gravitating toward fast-casual concepts because of the quality food and quality atmosphere they offer.



Fast-casual restaurants—concepts that have no full table service but concentrate on providing higher quality food—have become a predominate force in the restaurant industry. A report from global information companyThe NPD Group found that not only are the number of fast-casual units growing, but so are the number of people visiting them.



The number of fast-casual restaurants grew 5 percent in 2015 to 19,043 units. And some of the biggest brands leading the charge are Your PieMOOYAH Burgers, Fries & ShakesPita PitChipotlePanera Bread and Panda Express, all of which offer customers the same perks of a quick-service restaurant brand, but in a more casual, sit-down experience with higher-quality, elevated meals.



“There has been significant unit growth in the fast casual category over the past several years, and it hasn’t reached a saturation point since traffic is still increasing,” said NPD Foodservice Director of Product Management Greg Starzynski. “This would indicate that there is room for more growth for the fast casual category into the foreseeable future.”



One of the reasons why fast-casual restaurants have been successful is because they are offering consumers better food. Your Pie tosses their own dough and only uses fresh ingredients and homemade pizza sauce. And MOOYAH offers mouthwatering made-to-order burgers and bakes its buns in-house daily. Many fast-casual restaurants also give consumers the opportunity to customize their meals. Brands like Your Pie and Pita Pit provide a build-your-own meal option, which provides freedom for a guest to choose exactly what they want, as opposed to picking from a one-size-fits-all menu.



But one of the most important components to fast-casual success is the level of service it offers its guests. Because fast-casual restaurants do not have a wait staff, they are able to concentrate on providing fresh, quality food in a timely manner the moment an order comes through.



Elliot Jablonksy, research and development chef for Buffalo Wings & Rings and a veteran of the restaurant industry, said consumers are gravitating toward fast casual concepts because it combines the best of both worlds—great food served at QSR speeds.



“Consumer are eating out with more frequency and they want to stretch out their dollars as much as they can,” Jablonsky said. “Fast-casual restaurants offer them the reassurance that they won’t have to pay extra for table service and all their hard earned money is going back to providing delicious and quality food.” source:


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