While most segments of the restaurant industry continue to face challenges caused by the recession and slow pace of the ensuing recovery, fast-casual chains seem perfectly positioned for the prevailing economic and social climate, according to new research from Technomic, a Chicago-based foodservice market research firm.
The fast-casual segment continued to outpace the restaurant industry as a whole in 2010, with the Top 100 fast-casual chains growing 6 percent to nearly $18.9 billion, a faster rate than in 2009, according to Technomic's 2011 Top 100 Fast-Casual Chain Restaurant Report. Total fast-casual units grew 3.9 percent to 15,827, which is slightly slower than the prior year, but still faster than any other dining segment.
Other findings from Technomic's Top 100 Fast-Casual Chain Restaurant Report include:
"This category has essentially blown through the recession without skipping a beat," says Technomic executive vice president Darren Tristano. "The real pressures are now coming from other types of concepts that have taken note and are positioning themselves alongside their fast-casual counterparts. Quick-service restaurants are revamping their offerings and décor in an attempt to provide value beyond low prices and take back market share."
Tristano also points out that increased competition is becoming a concern, as new concepts continue to establish themselves and compete in the fast-casual marketplace.