• A Journey Into Contemporary Food and Education at The Field Museum

  • Blue Heron Café, Storage, Dining Rooms & Central Kitchen at Vicar’s Landing Continuing Care Retirement Community in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.

  • The Fresh Face of Corporate Dining

  • DSR of the Month, September 2014: Troy Little, Contract and Design Specialist Rapids Wholesale Equipment Co., Marion, Iowa

Foodservice News

Read more Foodservice News

Blog Network

jCarbonara
Joe Carbonara

Go the Distance: The Most Important Three Feet in the House

Many foodservice professionals often refer to the tabletop as the most important three feet in the house. That's because the tabletop represents the aspect of the foodservice operation that diners interact with most. So it would seem logical, then, that most restaurant and foodservice operators would put in plenty of thought, minding every detail, when developing their tabletops (page 18). Unfortunately, the opposite is often true.

Read more...

jMartinez
Juan Martinez

Foodservice Design Parameters for Successful Co-Branding

 The concept of co-branding, meaning having two restaurants share the same space, is nothing new. Sometimes it works. Other times it does not. So what’s the difference between successful and unsuccessful co-branding initiatives?

Read more...

jStiegler
Jerry Stiegler

Are Consumers Spending More at Restaurants?

American Express reports an increase in consumer spending at restaurants, The NPD Group says high-check-average operators are doing well, a San Francisco restaurant owner takes on Yelp!, Jimmy John’s gets hacked and much more.

Read more...

Greg Christian
Greg Christian

Outcomes for Year One of a New, Self-Op School Lunch Program

As the 2014-2015 school year draws to a close, I'd like to share the final outcomes of Nardin Academy's new self-operated foodservice program.

Read more...

Highlights

Understanding and Working with Fast-Casual Part 1

The fast-casual segment seems to be the darling of the foodservice industry — and with good reason, if you look at some of the industry data. According to market research firm Technomic, the fast-casual segment is in the best position to achieve real growth this year and next.

As you hear more about the fast-casual segment, have you ever found yourself wondering what it is all about? What's driving its success? And whether you are an operator or supplier, do you ever wonder how to position your business to ride this impressive wave? I have asked myself these questions on many occasions and over the next few posts, I would like to share with you some of my thoughts and observations about this burgeoning segment.

First, I think it is important to understand that fast-casual is a morphing segment. Nowadays it seems as if concepts that 10 years ago would not have made the cut to be categorized as fast-casual are getting thrown into this mix. It used to be easy to recognize a fast-casual concept but that's no longer the case. There has clearly been a blurring of the lines between fast-casual and QSR in many of the benefits offered to the customers. When Subway started, it would have probably been categorized as QSR, yet now, with the advent of concepts like Firehouse Subs and others, it may be seen as a fast-casual concept.

If you look at what fast-casual originally was and compare it to what it seems to be today (more on that in the next post), you begin to wonder how concepts get labeled as fast-casual.

Perhaps a good portion of how concepts become categorized is based on the customers' perceptions of the operation. OK, you can say that perception is reality, which I buy, and the way an operator positions the concept significantly impacts how customers see the business.

Understanding the importance of perception, though, is critical if you want to be part of the segment either as an operator or as a supplier of industrial engineering or other consulting and design services, foodservice equipment and various other forms of technology.

So what makes a fast-casual concept? In an effort to answer this often-asked question, you can approach it from a variety of angles including:

• Is it the menu offering?

• Is it the ambiance and retail design?

• Is it the menu price?

• Is it the production process?

• Is it the service system?

• Is it the employees?

These are but a few of the questions one could pose but it seems like a reasonable place to begin our exploration of the topic. As a preview of the subsequent blog posts, consider that many fast-casual concepts now play in the drive-through arena, a service attribute that was typically the exclusive domain of the QSR. Perhaps that's still the case?

In my next post, I will expand on each of the points listed above further, providing some thoughts on how these attributes are materializing in the marketplace, which could provide support (or not) as to how a concept gets positioned and categorized as a fast-casual concept.

Stay tuned!

Related Articles

Foodservice Equipment & Supplies is proud to be the exclusive media sponsor for 2015 RestaurantPoint.

Restaurant Point - Innovating the restaurant experience