Fast casual restaurants: the mid-point between takeout and sit down dining, are facing a renaissance of sorts. Chains like Chipotle, Panera, and Eatsa are adapting to a new kind of a patron—the kind who likes good food, on a tight schedule. So, how is this new trend in dining changing the eating game? Keep reading to find out.
More Efficient Restaurants, For More Efficient Dining
Fast casual restaurants are proving that great food doesn’t have to be sacrificed in the name of efficiency. With fewer seats, no wait staff, and lower overhead in general, fast casual eateries are saving money on the front end so they can invest in higher quality products on the back end. That means high quality ingredients, creative recipes, and essentially gourmet food faster, and at a lower price point.
Fast casual restaurants are also more efficient on the consumer-side as well. According to a recent survey, nearly half of workers have 30 minutes or less for lunch, that means they’re prioritizing fast meals that are nearby. To meet this growing need, many fast casual restaurants provide mobile pay and ordering, delivery, and pickup options.
Better Customer Service
Again, because fast casual restaurants are forgoing many of the expenses that are traditionally found with sit down restaurants, they can invest in better customer service and technology. Companies like Eatsa provide mobile platforms that allow for effortless customization, and quick pay options.
Customer service is a critical selling point for fast casual chains that hope to stand out. Because they function at a higher price point than their fast food counterparts (think McDonalds, Wendy’s etc.), customers expect a bigger bang for their buck. So, aside from mobile ordering, restaurants like Panera and Starbucks offer loyalty programs, allow for custom orders, and provide problem-solving steps if a product is sold out, or an order is filled incorrectly online.
The fast casual dining scene is dedicated to embracing technology as a way to constantly improve customer service. Now, personal preferences can be remembered, regular orders can be purchased again with a single click, and you can scout short wait times before committing to a restaurant. Technology, simply put, is transforming the way restaurants serve customers.
A Change in Space
The countrywide boom in fast casual eating has sparked a rise in small spaces zoned for restaurants. In turn, this means rents are increasing, and restaurants are competing against numerous eateries for the same space. So, instead, many fast casual restaurants are adapting by opting out of seated spaces all together.
Think food trucks, ordering windows, counter service spots, or online-only restaurants. In fact, this trend has become so popular in San Francisco alone, that you could spend a week eating out at small-space restaurants. Here’s a good list of some spots you should try if you’re in the area.
Simply put, the fast casual dining scene is adapting to the eaters of today. This new chain in food service fits within the average American’s busy life, and meets higher expectations of efficiency and customer service.
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