There's a land rush under way in the fast-casual industry, with restaurateurs nationwide frantically trying to grab a piece of this fast-growing segment. Just how fast is it growing? According to Technomic, eight of the ten fastest-growing chains in America (with sales of at least $2 million) are of the order-at-the-counter, wait-a-minute-while-your-food-is-made-fresh variety.
"Fast-casual growth continues to outpace that of quick and full service," the Technomic website reports. "Though it's still a small, emerging segment (comprising six percent of the restaurant industry) its influence is great. With origins in once-innovative concepts such as Fuddruckers and Koo Koo Roo and the 'home meal replacement' trend -- as well as prime development seen in chains like Chipotle Mexican Grill, Panera Bread and Five Guys Burgers and Fries -- the fast-casual sector has evolved and expanded. The old terminology 'adult fast food' is no longer an adequate definition."
See also: - First look: The Slotted Spoon Meatball Eatery opens - Denver's five best homegrown, fast-casual chains -- from Noodles to Chipotle - Is there room for Korean food in the growing fast-casual sector?
Burritos, salads, noodles, burgers and even Korean restaurants have already staked a claim here in Colorado. Now Alex Comisar, Johnny Coast and chef Jensen Cummings have joined the frenzy with a new (for Denver, at least) concept: meatballs.
Find out what kind of territory they've carved out with their hand-rolled pork, beef, chicken, salmon and veggie balls when my review of Slotted Spoon Meatball Eatery is posted here tomorrow.
And in the meantime, if you were starting a new fast-casual restaurant, what would your concept be?
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!