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Fast food has been the bane of the food industry since its relative inception in the early 1920’s. While there have always been a few fast food restaurants that have ensured the highest quality food, the vast majority have compromised quality for higher speeds and low costs. Thankfully, over the past few years, there has been a surge in fast food restaurants that care more about the quality of their food than anything else. The following describes the growth of what some may call “fast and fantastic” restaurants that not only deliver the freshest foods, but do it with the same level of quickness as other fast food restaurants.
The term commonly used for the types of fast food restaurants that don’t skimp on quality is “fast casual.” Fast casual restaurants have seen an immense growth within the food industry in the past decade. These restaurants promise their customers a higher quality of food and better atmosphere than typical fast food restaurants. They deliver the higher quality by utilizing fresh foods as ingredients, better foods on their menu, and generally healthier foods. Over the past decade or so, many restaurants have attempted to adopt this form of fast food, but the initial restaurants that started this trend were Smashburger by Rick Schaden, Panera Bread, Chipotle, and Au Bon Pain, among others. It’s also one of the few food movements that has garnered near unanimous praise for its implementation and results.
The primary reason that this form of fast food has been gaining in popularity as of late is quite simple. It all boils down to the fact that many consumers are willing to pay a few extra dollars for more premium food, as long as it gets to them quickly. While some restaurants that have adhered to the fast casual business model have met challenges in delivering their food as speedily, it is a factor that is constantly being improved upon. Consumers love the idea of receiving food of comparable quality to sit-down restaurants without actually having to sit down. The sole downside to this upsurge in fast casual restaurants is that they typically do not include drive-thru windows, though that is something that customers have quickly adapted to.
Chipotle, for instance, is known as one of the best fast casual restaurants in the business, mainly due to their high quality in food. They have watched lately as a myriad of restaurants have begun to tailor their decor and menus in response to Chipotle’s success. One of the huge advantages of the Chipotle fast casual business model is that they are using locally sourced and fresh food and are allowing customers to create their own meals using these ingredients. They have garnered continued success due to their high quality food products, such as fajita veggies, pinto beans, and chipotle-honey vinaigrette. It’s quite clear that, in the years to come, we will continue to see the strides being taken by these restaurants to give us higher quality food without sacrificing the “fast” in fast food.