Posted by Derrek J. Hull
As fast casual restaurants continue to outperform other industry segments in sales and unit growth, the National Restaurant Association's Fast Casual Industry Council explored the segment's secrets to success.
In a standing-room only education session at the National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show in May, Darren Tristano of Technomic pointed out that the segment has been less affected by the recession. That's because it attracts higher-income customers, as well as younger consumers, he said. It ranks highly with customers on food quality and cravability, as well as atmosphere. And it has a "health halo" around it, he said.
He said he expected the segment to grow and put pressure on other segments to improve in those areas and "drive more customers to go out to eat."
Several fast casual operators offered specific reasons their brands have been successful: