Fast-casual restaurant growth in U.S. continuing to outpace that of quick-service, full-service venues, Technomic says

CHICAGO , October 24, 2011 (press release) – Fast-casual growth continues to outpace that of quick service and full service. Though it's still a small segment—comprising 6 percent of the restaurant industry—its influence is great. With origins in once-innovative concepts such as Fuddruckers and Koo Koo Roo and the "home meal replacement" trend; and prime development seen in chains like Chipotle Mexican Grill, Panera Bread and Five Guys Burgers and Fries; the fast-casual sector has evolved and expanded. The old terminology "adult fast food" is no longer an adequate definition.

"Watching the success of fast-casual concepts, quick-service restaurants have adapted by improving menu items and adding fresh positioning. Leading QSRs like McDonald's and Wendy's are upgrading to fast-casual like decor and Chick-fil-A is testing table delivery," says Technomic EVP Darren Tristano, who has been studying the fast-casual phenomenon since its identification in the early '90s.

"Full-service restaurants have integrated elements of fast-casual too, such as Pizza Inn's recent launch of the Pie Five Pizza Co. concept and Denny's Fresh Express," says Tristano. "But innovative fast-casual concepts continue to evolve, adding full-service elements like table service in the evening and quick-service convenience like drive-thrus and delivery, defying the typical 'fast-casual' definition."

As a follow-up to its Foodservice Planning Program study of the fast-casual segment, presented to suppliers in January 2012, Technomic is launching a new Fast Casual Insights Group which will provide ongoing monitoring and growth forecasts. Key components include:

* Qualitative and quantitative operator research to determine how they define "fast-casual," the critical strategic issues and competitive threats facing operators, and technology's role in the segment.
* Analysis of Technomic's Consumer Brand Metrics data, outlining the attributes that drive satisfaction at fast-casual concepts and how individual brands rate on these attributes.
* Historic perspectives including sales and unit growth, segment share and analysis of why some concepts have earned ongoing success while others have struggled or ceased operation.
* A predictive view of the future, including growth forecasts through 2020, the concepts and niches that will see long-term success and why.
* The Fast-Casual 400—the most thorough ranking of fast-casual concepts, available exclusively with this report.

To learn more about the Fast Casual Insights Group, please contact one of the individuals listed below.

Press inquiries: Darren Tristano, (312) 506-3850 or
Purchasing inquiries: Patrick Noone, (312) 506-3652 or

About Technomic

Technomic provides clients with the facts, insights and consulting support they need to enhance their business strategies, decisions and results. Its services include numerous publications and digital products, as well as proprietary studies and ongoing research on all aspects of the food industry.

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