Lori Zanteson

Grab and Go Healthy

Snacking between meals has etched out its own niche, turning the tables on the traditional three-daypart model. The resulting shift in restaurant dayparts has quick-service operators working hard to attract snackers, especially those seeking healthy snacks to suit their active lifestyles.

Consumers are paying more attention to healthy menu items, according to the National Restaurant Association’s 2014 Restaurant Industry Forecast. Seventy-two percent of consumers say they are more likely to visit a restaurant with healthy items on the menu, according to the report.

Hold the Bread

The quick-service industry isn’t quite what it used to be. Gone are the days when a simple roll or slices of white bread sufficed as carriers for a burger or sandwich.

These days, with innovation required in an increasingly competitive field, sandwich carriers ranging from doughnuts and lettuce to ramen noodles and fried chicken are combining creativity with novelty to develop tasty twists on tradition.

Fresh Perspective

Lighter menu offerings at restaurants long ago moved from being a nice option for health-conscious customers to being the expectation of a sizeable chunk of the population. Increased consumer demand for more nutritious dining choices has sparked an industry-wide movement toward health-focused menu development.

Rising to the Occasion

After 25 years of business, La Brea Bakery shakes things up.

La Brea Bakery rebranded itself for the first time in 25 years, updating its logo, packaging, and café to reflect its expanding vision while also doubling down on its commitment to supply fresh bread both to foodservice companies and consumers.

La Brea, which was originally built to supply a single restaurant and is now the largest artisanal bakery in the U.S., supplies restaurants and food retail around the world with fresh breads. It also operates two cafés and licenses a quick-service concept with sandwiches and baked goods.

Morning Comforts

Baked goods have been a staple in the quick-serve industry for decades, but innovation in the space has boomed as several operators step up their a.m. offerings to compete in that increasingly lucrative daypart.

Coffee concepts are a natural fit for baked goods. In addition to a morning cup of java, many customers anticipate a variety of baked breakfast items behind the bakery glass case, from syrupy sweet cinnamon rolls to savory crusted quiche.

Built by Design

When it comes to all-American food like salads, sandwiches, and burgers, we all have our own version of perfect.

Assembly-line quick-service concepts are making sure customers have the ability to create that perfect menu item. By offering an array of fresh, quality ingredients—from conventional to gourmet—with the option to start from scratch or customize an existing menu item, build-your-own brands are introducing flavors and flavor combinations that engage, entice, and satisfy every palate.

The Other Side of Super

Superfoods have swept the culinary world into a frenzy, enticing consumers with a taste of the exotic and courting them with nutrition and functionality, to the point where restaurants across the country are trying to stake a claim in this fledgling movement.

Quick-service restaurants are keeping in stride, and many have ventured beyond the common açai and goji berry superfruits, as well as the kale super vegetable. Many quick serves are now leveraging a wider spectrum of superfoods, using whole grains, nuts, and seeds in fresh and innovative ways.

Good to Be Green

Operators slow to warm to sustainable strategies.

Hannah's Bretzel uses a range of sustainable tools to improve its business.
Hannah's Bretzel uses a range of sustainable tools to improve its business.

Once a branding premium, going green has become a common business strategy influencing nearly every decision in the manufacturing and retail industries.

But many quick-service operators, struggling with tight margins and looking for cost effectiveness, remain hesitant at diving head first into the sustainability movement.

“The idea of green restaurants is still pretty new,” says Florian Pfahler, founder of Hannah’s Bretzel, the self-proclaimed “greenest sandwich shop in Chicago.”

The Profit is Right

Report shows food franchises have better profitability than other franchise categories.

HuHot Mongolian Grill's entertainment model secures profits for franchisees.
HuHot Mongolian Grill's entertainment model secures profits for franchisees.

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The economy may still be sputtering, but the Franchise Business Review’s (FBR) 2012 annual report, “Top 40 Food Franchises,” found that profitability is up for many foodservice brands.

Average franchisee profitability at the top 40 food brands increased 5.8 percent year-over-year in the last 18 months, according to the report. Those brands had a 15 percent higher profitability than the rest of the food franchise category, and 33.2 percent higher profitability than the total franchise average.

The Little Restaurant That Could

Los Angeles food stall makes a splash with efficient vegan concept.

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Localita & The Badasserie may be tucked into the Fashion District of Downtown Los Angeles, and might even be the smallest quick serve in the world (Guinness is looking into it). But the four-week-old, 80-square-foot hole in the wall is quickly proving that even an eco-conscious restaurant with an all-vegan menu and tiny footprint can make a big impression on consumers.