Fast casual restaurant
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A fast casual restaurant is a type of restaurant that does not offer full table service, but promises a higher quality of food and atmosphere than a fast food restaurant (called a "quick service restaurant" in the industry). It is a relatively new and growing concept positioned between fast food and casual dining (hence the hybrid name "fast casual"). The typical cost per meal is in the $8–15 range.
ZuZu, also known as ZuZu Handmade Mexican Food, served handmade Mexican food meant to be healthy. After growing the company into a successful multi-unit chain and having everyone refer to ZuZu as "Fast Food" that Lonsdale-Hands decided it was time to have a name for the niche between fast food and casual dining also occupied by companies such as Corner Bakery Cafe and La Madeleine.
On Monday, November 13, 1995, a U.S. Federal trademark registration was filed for Fast Casual by ZuZu, Inc. Dallas 75201. The USPTO has given the Fast Casual trademark serial number of 75017852.
Not wanting to limit the use of the term he coined for the industry, Lonsdale-Hands had ZuZu, Inc. abandon its application one year later.
In a 1995 interview with Lonsdale-Hands, Michael DuLuca, then publisher of Restaurant Hospitality periodical, credited Lonsdale-Hands with coining the term "fast casual".
The concept did not become a popular and common one for restaurants until the early to mid 1990s, and did not truly become mainstream until the beginning of the 2010s.
During the economic downturn beginning in 2007, fast casual dining saw an uptick in sales from the 18–34 demographic. Customers with limited discretionary meal spending tend to use it on dining perceived as healthier.
Counter service accompanied by food made onsite (often visible via an open kitchen) is typical. Alcohol may be served. Dishes like steak may be offered. The menu is usually limited to an extended over-counter display, and options in the way the food is prepared are emphasized. Health-conscious items have a larger-than-normal portion of the menu, although sodium content is still typically very high. Some restaurants may emphasize high quality ingredients like free range chicken and freshly made salsas. While full table service is not offered, conveniences like non-plastic utensils and plates are common.
Publisher and founder of FastCasual.com Paul Barron is inaccurately credited for coining the term "Fast Casual" in the late 1990s, while the company Technomic Information Services defined the term "fast casual restaurants" as meeting the following criteria:
- Limited-service or self-service format
- Average meal price between $7 and $11
- Made-to-order food with more complex flavors than fast food restaurants offer
- Unique or highly developed decor
- Most often will not have a drive-through
- List of coffeehouse chains
- List of fast food restaurant chains
- List of ice cream parlor chains
- List of pizza chains
- List of restaurant chains
- List of revolving restaurants
- Types of restaurant
- "Fast Casual – Insights for Innovative Restaurants". FastCasual.com. Retrieved 29 June 2011.
- "2010’s Twenty Largest Fast-Casual Franchises". BlueMauMau. Retrieved 29 June 2011.
- Jargon, Julie (1 February 2010). "As Sales Drop, Burger King Draws Critics for Courting 'Super Fans'". The Wall Street Journal (Yahoo! Finance). Retrieved 1 February 2010.
- Wheelen, Thomas L.; Hunger, J. David (2006). Strategic Management and Business Policy: Cases (10th ed.). Upper Saddle River, N.J: Pearson Prentice Hall. ISBN 978-0-13-149460-2.
- "What exactly is fast casual?". Franchise Times. January 2008. Retrieved 23 January 2011.