CHICAGO – Foodservice consultant Technomic said Thursday that fast-casual restaurant chains were a growth vehicle in 2007 and out performed the restaurant industry as a whole.

The Chicago-based firm said that fast-casual chains had sales growth of 13.3 percent for the year compared to 5.3 percent growth for the overall limited-service segment and five percent for the whole industry.

“Competition is getting tougher within this segment,” says Darren Tristano, executive vice president of Technomic Information Services. “New chains are constantly emerging—some similar to concepts already out there, while others are spin-offs of their full-service counterparts. Meanwhile, quick-service chains are trying to lure customers back by revamping their offerings and sometimes their décor to compete with fast-casual concepts.”

Technomic defined fast-casual restaurants as occupying a niche that gives casual-dining consumers an opportunity to “trade down” to lower-priced yet high-quality fresh food, and allow quick-service customers a way to “trade up” to a more upscale “third place” environment that offers affordable food quickly at a cost that is usually only about $2 to $4 more than typical quick-service venues. 

The consultantcy reported that fast-casual chains are trying to drive revenue in slower-traffic periods, such as breakfast, dinner and in-between snack periods, by introducing new menu items, adding or enhancing existing catering programs, and by offering Wi-Fi and adult beverages to attract mobile workers and social occasions.


Source: Technomic Inc.