Last October, I attended an industry conference and saw Panera’s founder Ron Shaich moderate a panel of great industry leaders. Those of you who follow me on Twitter know I also had the chance to ask Ron a question about the development and future of the fast-casual industry. Ron answered by noting that there was no such thing as fast casual and that no consumer says, “I am going to go to a fast-casual restaurant.” Needless to say, this caused quite a buzz amongst those of us in the segment, and there has been a bit of a debate going on since then.
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.
Olympia, Washington, mayor Doug Mah helped celebrate the recent opening of Washington’s first Panera Bread drive thru, located at 2525 Capital Mall Drive in Olympia, by breaking a giant baguette with Thurston County Chamber members and Panera employees. Mah presented a proclamation announcing Panera Drive-Thru Day and welcoming customers to the new bakery-cafe by passing out commemorative coffee tumblers to guests at the drive-thru window on Friday, January 28.
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.
Read More About
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
The Panera Bread Foundation opened its second non-profit community café—called Panera Cares—in Dearborn, Michigan, and shared plans to open a third in Portland, Oregon, in early 2011. This expansion is the result of the concept's success in Clayton, Missouri, where the first non-profit community café—called Saint Louis Bread Co. Cares—opened in May.
The problem with snacks nowadays is that they no longer know their proper place.
Based on the results of a survey conducted by market research firm Technomic earlier this year, these uppity, stopgap appetite-tamers are muscling in on what used to be mealtime turf. Indeed, more than two out of five consumers told the company that they often either skip one meal each day or replace one meal per day with snacks. That, for those of you watching at home, is an awful lot of lost meal occasions.
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.
Bakery item returns for its 10th year helping support the fight against breast cancer.