If you’re still in the deciding stages of what restaurant concept you’re wanting to open, this post may help you come to a final decision. It’s important that you know the current trends and options that today’s consumer has available. Who is your target market and what are they eating and just as important where are they eating?
When the Fast Casual concept initially emerged, the differences between Fast Casual and Quick Service Restaurants (QSR) were clearly defined.
Although the industry has been moving in this direction for the last 5 years, there has never been more evidence of the mimicking than there is now.
As competition becomes fiercer, we have been witnessing, existing concepts adapting and learning from the Fast Casual Concept.
The Fast Casual Restaurant Concept Is Causing The Old Monkey See Monkey Do Mimicry…
As Fast Casual took off like a jack-rabbit, others have been able to observe and gain insight from their success.
This has caused Casual Dining chains to “downscale” to grab consumers and QSR chains to “upscale” for the same reason.
QSR/Fast Food concepts are revamping their offerings and décor in an attempt to provide value beyond low prices to regain market share.
For example, McDonald’s just opened its first location under the “Metro McDonald’s” banner in downtown Las Vegas. It is offering 24-hour service, digital menu boards and Wi-Fi access, along with a cool-looking interior that is bright, with sleek furniture and graffiti-like murals.
One recent example of Casual Dining shifting into Fast Casual dining is Burger Works from Red Robin. Burger Works is a fast casual concept and concentrates on offering Red Robin’s signature burger line at a lower price point, on a simpler menu, and in a more casual setting.
As Casual Dining chains compete through opening their own versions of Fast Casual options and QSR chains compete through improved spaces and marketing approaches, we are also seeing traditional quick service chains going head-to-head with Fast Casual concepts by introducing better food choices.
Wendy’s recently announced three new Signature Sides—macaroni and cheese, baked sweet potatoes and chili cheese fries—at its U.S. locations. Wendy’s, through recent menu additions and news, has started to separate itself from QSR competitors and has instead focused efforts on moving closer to a Fast Casual brand.
Regardless of the Fast Casual concept success, QSR still dominates. This is, of course, due to pure numbers.
Fast Casual has outpaced the industry in terms of growth, but isn’t nearly the same size of the QSR concept, in sales or units.
The news that Fast Casual as a concept has shaken the food-service industry and made the other concepts step up is evident. The ability to deliver and meet the needs of the consumer, from made-to-order options, customization and fresh, high-quality ingredients has been reached.
As a result, QSR chains have improved. As a whole, their menus have gotten better, the food is of a higher quality and the value redefined. From one perspective, consumers can thank the fast casual segment for bringing this on.
On the other hand, QSR chains will need to continue focusing on innovation if they intend to remain on top as competition as Fast Casual continues to gain speed.
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