There was a time when the only place you could find Black Angus beef on a menu was at some of the nation’s finest steakhouses. But these days, Angus burgers are served at McDonald’s, Back Yard Burgers, Carl’s Jr., Hardee’s, and Smashburger and are just one of many fine-dining menu items, ingredients, and techniques that were adopted by quick-service and fast-casual restaurants over the last decade.
I am often asked what I think are the hottest or best fast-casual concepts. I think it’s important to tackle that question from the consumer perspective first. Like many others in the industry, I love checking out the competition. Over the last several years, many colleagues and I have made a point to visit as many concepts as possible whenever we’re together. Out of these 50 or more concepts, here are the ones that stand out the most. This list is based entirely on the quality of the experience and not buzz in the press or industry.
Kids’ menus have come a long way from the days when they were little more than sandwiches, soft drinks, and small fries for the small fries.
As parents increasingly seek out food that is healthful and nutritious for their children, particularly in light of America’s growing childhood-obesity crisis, restaurants have sought to provide menu items that are not only good for kids, but also taste great.
Twenty- or 30-odd years ago, before society as a whole was fully attuned to the hazards—physical and moral—of allowing kids to eat pretty much whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted, product development was a relative snap.
Media measurement technology firm General Sentiment released its newest brand analysis, the Fall 2010 Fast Food Industry Report. The report highlights the brands that made the most significant media impact online between September and November. Despite declining nearly 20 percent since the summer, Starbucks still topped General Sentiment’s Impact Value rankings, more than doubling the totals of second and third place brands McDonald’s and Burger King.
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Reporting by Blair Chancey, Sam Oches, Daniel P. Smith, Robin Van Tan, Barney Wolf & Lori Zanteson
1. BK Sold to Brazilian Investors
Becoming the decade’s biggest restaurant buyout, No. 3 burger chain Burger King Corp. was acquired by 3G Capital, a New York firm backed by Brazilian investors, for $3.3 billion in September. —BC
2. The Food Truck Obsession
According to a recent study by American Express Business Insights, ultra-affluent consumers increased quick-serve spending by 24 percent in the second quarter of 2010, as compared to the same quarter last year. Ultra-affluent customers are defined as those who charge more than $7,000 per month on their cards.
With Halloween approaching, it is hard to say who is more excited: kids eager to go trick-or-treating or businesses looking to explore frighteningly creative marketing strategies.