Fast casual restaurants have their way of capturing people’s taste buds as they advertise affordable, healthier food choices.
A survey shows that most consumers prefer all-natural and organic foods from time to time. It also reveals that most sought-after foods are those made without preservatives and artificial ingredients.
This has made diners more selective and careful with what they eat. They would often take time to order since they would ask many questions about the food to ensure it’s free from any preservatives or unhealthy ingredients.
But with a QR code menu software, fast-casual chain restaurant operators can show consumers the source of ingredients of every dish and meal they serve, making it a much-needed digital tool for restaurants today.
Additionally, you can integrate countless fast casual dining trends with your business. To know what these are, we round up a list of them. Keep reading to learn more.
What is a fast casual restaurant?
Fast casual restaurants offer higher-quality menu items made with organic, fresh, and local ingredients. They are a healthy alternative to fast-food establishments.
These establishments have an informal concept of dining without the full table service of fine dining. They are often situated in major cities and are known for offering quick and affordable meals.
Additionally, fast casual restaurants allow their customers to make their meals from customizable options, and usually, they have open kitchens where diners see how cooks prepare their meals. And generally, they close early and don’t have a drive-thru.
5 Fast casual restaurant trends today
1. Alternative protein
An increasing number of customers are becoming more cautious with their food choices, opting for a healthy and sustainable diet. As of January 2022, about 10% of Americans over 18 say they are vegan or vegetarian.
The consumer’s interest in a plant-based and vegan diet has changed how restaurants plan their menus, revolving around protein alternatives and plant-centric foods.
In the future, you will more likely see cultivated meat products with nutritional features like fiber. Juicy Marbles’ for example, has a plant-based whole cut of filet mignon.
2. Automated ordering via QR code menu
Because of the pandemic, restaurants quickly shifted to digital solutions and automation. One is QR code ordering, a more efficient and productive tool for taking customer orders.
You can implement a restaurant contactless ordering system with MENU TIGER, a digital menu solution that lets diners order and pay for meals directly from their mobile devices.
This is a helpful tool to use, especially if you have limited staff, as it enables self-ordering—a more speedy method of taking customers’ orders. Also, it significantly reduces the likelihood of giving the diners the wrong dishes.
3. Food Transparency
Every food service establishment knows how vital food transparency is for their customers’ satisfaction. They do not just want to eat tasty food; they want to guarantee that the food is healthy.
Food transparency, one of the fast casual restaurant trends in the food industry, is crucial in building consumer trust in your brand, increasing their loyalty, and turning curious customers into regulars.
Knowing the possible allergens, ingredient sourcing, nutritional information, and food preparation is essential for them. Before purchasing items, some consumers are eyeing terms such as the following:
- Organic means farmed produce without artificial chemicals, synthetic fertilizers, or pesticides.
- Non-GMO refers to food made without ingredients manufactured or produced through bioengineering or genetic engineering.
- Antibiotic-free means produce or served meat raised without antibiotics.
- Free-range means that poultries have access to the outdoors.
- Sustainable is when food production uses protective and respectful techniques for the environment, public health, human communities, and animal welfare.
A digital QR code menu can help deliver transparency. It has features that allow you to provide the necessary food details, showcase every dish with good images, and enable customers to leave special instructions on their ordered meal.
4. Instagram-worthy foods
Food presentation is an integral part of the success of any restaurant. Food should be pleasing to the eye, as it impacts the choices of the customers.
Making your food Instagrammable is a great way to attract and retain customers, especially the Gen Z and Millennial age group, as they spend many hours online. They love to share positive experiences online by taking photos and videos of attractive food presentations.
This notable behavior of how customers use social media indicates how food has become an essential part of social networking, and restaurateurs can engage with this trend to boost their visibility.
And for casual restaurants, this means creating food that intrigues the senses and captures one’s attention.
5. Fermented foods and probiotics
What is a fast casual restaurant food trend you should include in your menu?
Fermented food and drink are in demand by many health-conscious individuals as it can improve gut health. These include kefir, tempeh, kombucha, sauerkraut, kimchi, and miso.
Probiotics in fermented foods improve digestion, boost immunity, and aid weight loss. These benefits make fermented products a good part of one’s diet. And for white tablecloth restaurants, this means they are an excellent addition to a healthy menu offerings.
Advantages of running fast casual restaurants
Fast casual restaurants come in between fast food and fine dining restaurants. What exactly are the benefits of running a fast-casual restaurant? To answer that, see the following:
Easy ordering through the QR code
Customers can place orders on their own using their mobile devices. This saves the waitstaff’s effort of going back and forth to get each table’s orders.
Offers healthier food options
The fast casual restaurant menu includes various healthier food options—freshly prepared and made from quality ingredients. These are great for customers looking for healthier alternatives to fast food.
Shorter wait times
Establishments with QR code based restaurant menus are ideal places to dine in a hurry since they facilitate self-service dining. Customers pay for their meals as they order, resulting in faster processing.
Lower average meal prices
Fast casual offers several quality food and drink menu offerings that don’t cost that much. It has lower prices compared to white tablecloth restaurants.
Popular fast casual dining establishments you can visit
Looking for the best place for fast casual dining? Here is a list of fast casual restaurants you may visit.
Chipotle is a famous American fast-casual chain that serves made-to-order burritos, tacos, rice bowls, and other Mexican dishes.
This is an accessible and affordable restaurant with over 2700 locations in the US alone. Also, they have several menu offerings made from fresh and quality ingredients. Customers can customize their orders according to preferred toppings, meats, and sides.
Originally known as Boston Chicken, Boston Market is an American fast casual establishment located in Golden, Colorado.
Its menu mainly features home-style meals such as rotisserie chicken, turkey, meatloaf, brisket, and side dishes. They claim to serve only fresh, whole chicken free of antibiotics and MSG.
For customer convenience, they offer pickup or delivery services.
Moe’s Southwest Grill
Moe’s Southwest Grill is a fast-casual restaurant that serves fresh food, including burritos, nachos, tacos, and quesadillas. They allow guests to customize orders, choosing from over 20 fresh ingredients.
Moe’s has up to six different salsas made fresh daily from signature ingredients. And each customer’s orders come with house-made salsas and chips.
Au Bon Pain
Au Bon Pain has been recognized internationally as a famous fast-casual restaurant, bakery, and cafe. Its name is French for “from good bread.”
This chain serves sandwiches, bread, salads, soups, and coffee. They have different healthy menu options: gluten-free, low-fat, low-sodium, and plant-based, making it among the top 5 healthiest restaurant chains.
They are transparent with the calorie counts and nutritional information reflected on the menu.
Noodles and Company
Noodles and Company is another American fast-casual restaurant that serves international and American noodle dishes, sandwiches, salads, and soups made from authentic ingredients.
It has a cozy area perfect for big group meals or family dinners. They also offer catering services and gift cards.
Elevate the customer experience with a digital QR code menu
Create a great sit-down experience at your fast casual restaurants by improving your services and creating a relaxed atmosphere with a digital tool.
The QR code menu software automates the ordering and payment processes—making the table turn faster—and allows customers to customize orders by choosing from modifier options on the menu.
Go to MENU TIGER and choose any of the affordable plans. No credit card needed.