Fast-casual franchises get a leg up over the rest of the industry
Fast-casual franchises get a leg up over the rest of the industry

Dominance of fast-casual chains attributed to quality, convenience.

Let it be written: 2015 is the year of fast-casual.

According to Technomic’s most recent Top 500 Chain Restaurant Report, the fast-casual segment saw a collective annual increase in sales of 12.8 percent, reaching $30 billion during 2014. If that weren’t impressive enough, it marks nearly twice as much growth as the next-largest increase from all other restaurant segments, according to FastCasual.com.

"Whether they offer the customization of a build-your-own format or just their made-to-order signature dishes, fast-casual chains clearly hit the sweet spot with consumers," Darren Tristano, executive vice president of Technomic, said in a statement. "The winning formula of high-quality menu items in upscale settings, with high-touch service at prices between fast food and casual dining, can be applied to any kind of food and is powering growth in segments from burgers and barbecue to sushi and pizza. We'll continue to see fast casual drive much of the sales growth in the restaurant industry for years to come."

This comes at a time when industry observers are spotlighting how fast-casual franchises are also beating out quick-service competitors when it comes to speed and convenience.

“Even if you can get a customer through your drive thru in 180 seconds, a fast-casual operator can serve their customer a made-to-order personalized meal in even less time by letting his guest order and pay ahead so that the food can be prepared while the guest is traveling to the restaurant to collect his order,” stated Olo founder and CEO Noah Glass in an article for QSR. “The customer can park, walk in to the restaurant, skip the line at a dedicated pickup counter, walk back out of the restaurant, and drive off, all in under 180 seconds.”

Combining higher-quality food and customization with speed and simplicity? No wonder fast-casual concepts are dominating the industry.

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