As Americans’ hunger for burgers and chicken continues to grow, restaurant operators are tweaking their menus to meet consumers’ demands for new meats and higher quality.
An increasing number of limited-service restaurants have added better and more “natural” meat to their repertoires. At the same time, they are featuring other proteins.
From the growth of Angus menu items to the specialty burger craze, there has been no slowdown in sales of beef on a bun, according to a Technomic study last summer.
Late last year, McDonald’s announced that it would launch in 645 California stores its own TV channel that broadcasts news, sports, and local-interest stories. The move resonated loudly across the industry, signaling that food alone might not be the future of quick-serve dining rooms.
Rather, customized digital and television content may be the new best way to get customers to hang around the dining room for longer than the time it takes to scarf down a burger and fries.
The bakery café segment, which accounts for $5 billion in annual sales and more than 3,600 units nationwide, has been able to successfully navigate the middle ground between quick- and full-service restaurants to outpace industry sales and unit growth for each of the past three years. Total bakery café units increased 4.2 percent, and bakery café sales increased 12 percent during those three years.
Every year, many of us anxiously await the release of Technomic’s Fast Casual Top 100 report. Technomic’s Darren Tristano, one of the most knowledgeable people in the industry, gave me an interview and a sneak peek at the report. Here are his thoughts, followed by a few of my own.
Darren, what is the size of the fast-casual segment (2010)?
Panera announced an agreement with Covelli Enterprises to co-develop the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), Ontario, for Panera Bread. Covelli, through its affiliate Canadall ULC, has aggressive plans for expansion in the GTA including two or three new bakery-cafes in the communities of Mississauga/Oakville and Vaughn in 2011.
Panera Bread ULC, Panera’s Canadian affiliate, currently operates bakery-cafes in Richmond Hill, Mississauga, and Thornhill and also plans to open additional cafes in 2011.
Last week QSR's in-house fast-casual expert, George Green, snagged the interview of the season with Darren Tristano, executive vice president at leading research firm Technomic. Not only did he get Tristano's coveted insight on the fast-casual industry, he gained exclusive access to the highly anticipated Fast Casual Top 100 Report.
Below is Green's first-hand account of his time with Tristano as well as his own analysis of the study, which comes out next week.
On the evening of May 12, 2010, Bill Moreton and dozens of his Panera Bread colleagues celebrated the career of Ronald Shaich, the bakery-café’s cofounder, departing CEO, and ultimate visionary. For 25 years, Shaich guided Panera’s growth from a 19-unit chain into a fast-casual giant claiming $3 billion in sales.
Like many, Moreton stood at the center of that room in St. Louis and rattled off Shaich stories alongside compliments and gratitude. The room was jovial and celebratory. Moreton didn’t know how different tomorrow’s tone would be.
In many cases, it’s a different consumer out there today deciding where to dine when the urge hits. Throughout the recession, full-service restaurants offered so many fire-sale bargains that those little affected by the economy could almost feel guilty for practically stealing meals when they would have just as willingly paid regular price.
What’s happened to pizza’s major players?
In 2000, the QSR 50 Report, this magazine’s annual ranking of the nation’s top quick-service brands, showed a robust American appetite for pizza, a category trailing only burger joints in representation. With pizza chains claiming four of the list’s top 15 slots and 12 of the top 50, the segment seemed poised to maintain its spot as a 21st century quick-service staple.