It’s been some twelve years since Chipotle first went public and the fast casual revolution got underway. We’ve seen better burger and better pizza concepts proliferate to the point of saturation, ethnic concepts penetrate deeper and deeper into America’s heartland (and hearts), and the occasional misstep and overreach (you know who you are).
Yet fast casual remains a singular force in food service, one that continues to dominate the cultural landscape. So, a little more than a decade into its reign, we thought we’d check in on the industry: what do consumers want from a fast casual experience, what are they actually getting, and how can operators start to bridge the difference? What concepts most excite consumers, which seem passé at this point, and what can QSR and casual dining operators learn from all of this?
- What drives first and return visits to fast casual restaurants?
- How do consumers understand the difference between fast food, fast casual, and casual dining?
- How can restaurants balance affordability and quality, as well as novelty and familiarity?
- Are consumers interested in plant-based products?
- How will consumers react to increasingly automated fast casual dining experiences?
- How do different demographic segmentations understand and experience fast casual?
- Much, much more!