Real growth continues to be hard to come by for the foodservice industry. In fact, overall customer traffic was flat through the first quarter of 2016, according to The NPD Group, a market research firm covering the foodservice industry. Revenues and customer traffic may be inching along, but one area growing at breakneck speed is labor costs.Read more...
The National Restaurant Association’s annual trade show has come and gone to much fanfare. From what I saw and read, the participation was phenomenal. We were able to bring our full consulting team from all of our offices and even made time to break some bread together. This year, I also participated in a panel discussion that explored unit economics and was moderated by Steve Romaniello, managing director of Roark Capital.Read more...
Defining a fast-casual concept isn't as easy as it once was.
Continuing on the topic of fast-casual restaurants, let's do some reconnaissance on what happening in the marketplace to see if we can find the true parameters that define a fast-casual concept. Of course, after completing this exercise it felt like I was playing a game of Where's Waldo.
The fast-casual category was born to fill a need the customers had for better quality food with reasonably fast service, slightly higher pricing, delivered in a more comfortable environment. To deliver this, the fast-casual concepts would end up investing more capital in the cost of the facility and usually have higher operating costs.
This category has improved in many areas to drive a higher level of profitability, look at ways to reduce capital and operating cost, and deliver better customer service, while maintaining many of the factors that drove its success. In the meantime, many QSR concepts have learned from the successes of fast-casual and evolved their concepts as well, picking up the traits of fast-casual that can likewise improve their customer's experience.
The next time you visit a fast-casual or QSR concept see if you can spot the differences between the two categories. Identifying the differences between the two is often not easy. When trying to improve the performance of a fast-casual concept, I feel it is important to understand what the concept is trying to be and the overall hospitality experience they want to deliver. This is critical for consultants, suppliers, designers and brand owners alike. It can impact our success when dealing in the fast-casual arena.
In my next blog post, I will aim to provide some insights on how we can help brands deliver improvements in these areas with our design, equipment and industrial engineering expertise, to better serve the evolving needs of the fast-casual category.