Fast casual restaurant
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A fast casual restaurant is a type of restaurant, found primarily in the United States, that does not offer full table service, but promises a higher quality of food with fewer frozen or processed ingredients than other fast food restaurants. It is an intermediate concept between fast food and casual dining, and typically priced accordingly. The category is exemplified by chains such as Boston Market, Bruegger's, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Culvers, El Pollo Loco, Five Guys, Freddy's Frozen Custard & Steakburgers, Newk's Eatery, Noodles & Co., Panera Bread, Pizza Ranch and Vapiano.
The concept became popular in the United States in the early to mid-1990s, but did not become mainstream until the end of the 2000s and the beginning of the 2010s.
During the economic downturn beginning in 2007, fast casual dining saw increased sales to the 18–34 demographic. Customers with limited discretionary spending on meals tend to use it on dining perceived as healthier.
Publisher and founder of FastCasual.com Paul Barron is credited for coining the term "fast-casual" in the late 1990s. Horatio Lonsdale-Hands, former Chairman and CEO of ZuZu Inc., is also credited with coining the term "fast-casual". ZuZu, a handmade Mexican food concept co-founded by Lonsdale-Hands in 1989, filed a U.S. Federal trademark registration for the term "fast-casual" in November 1995. In the July 1996 edition of Restaurant Hospitality, editor/associate publisher Michael DeLuca calls Lonsdale-Hands a "progressive pioneer in the burgeoning 'fast-casual' market segment."
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 $8 and $15
- Made-to-order food with more complex flavors than fast food restaurants
- Upscale, unique or highly developed décor
- Most often will not have a drive thru
- Julia Moskin (July 25, 2014). "Hold the Regret? Fast-Food Seeks Virtuous Side". New York Times. Retrieved July 27, 2014.
These ambitious new chains make up only a sliver of the nation’s $683 billion restaurant industry. But all are within its swiftest-growing segment, "fast-casual", a subset of fast-food that includes places like Chipotle and Panera, whose offerings are marketed as a rung or two higher than those of Burger King or Taco Bell: fewer frozen and highly processed ingredients, more-comfortable seats, better coffee and (sometimes) healthier food.
- "2010's Twenty Largest Fast-Casual Franchises". BlueMauMau. Retrieved June 29, 2011.
- Jargon, Julie (February 1, 2010). "As Sales Drop, Burger King Draws Critics for Courting 'Super Fans'". The Wall Street Journal. Yahoo! Finance. Retrieved February 1, 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.
- "Fast Casual Trademark Serial Number: 75017852".
- "Formula for Success". Restaurant Hospitality. 80 (7): 81–86. July 1996.
- "What exactly is fast casual?". Franchise Times. January 2008. Archived from the original on October 21, 2012. Retrieved January 23, 2011.