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Embracing the fast-casual concept in 2016

Embracing the fast-casual concept in 2016

Embracing the fast-casual concept in 2016

It's time for those in the industry to bid a fond farewell to the long, leisurely lunches of the past as the current trend for fast-casual dining shows no sign of slowing. The midweek, lingering lunch where consumers would treat themselves, Mediterranean-style, to their main meal of the day, complete with an alcoholic beverage or two, has been on the decline for years - at least, according to a recent report published on The Guardian's website.

The article cited reasons such as the recessions of the past years as well as changing attitudes to alcohol which have led to this decline. Recent research by M&C Allegra FoodService, revealing that only 14% of lunchtime orders now include alcohol, would point to this being the case - paving the way for a time when fast-casual concepts can shine.

In part, the fast-casual concept is on the rise due to the drastically different dining habits of Millennials to their parents. An article published on Business Insider reported that 53% of Millennials goes out to eat once a week, compared with 43% of the general population. It was also found that 96% of Millennials will have eaten at a quick service restaurant at least once in the last three months and Millennials make up over half (51%) of fast-casual customers. In short, Millennials both represent an important part of the market and have a penchant for fast-casual, and hospitality operators are keen to reap the benefits.

Just-Food.com predicts the UK is set to head the way of the US where fast-casual restaurants have dominated the food service industry for many years with their offer of attractive price points and service style. Successful American brand MOD Pizza are in discussions to bring the concept to the UK mid-2016, whilst retail spaces like Shoreditch's Boxpark offer retail space for tired shoppers to get their fast-casual fix.

The article cited key practices that have contributed to fast casual success include presenting a limited menu to save time, money and the need for retail space, often with a signature ingredient or meal, as well as an emphasis on locally sourced ingredients, a factor that is important to the Millennial crowd.

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