A food service consultants report by Technomic found that sales for the 100 largest fast-casual restaurant franchises grew 10.8 percent in 2008. Unit growth also showed an improvement, increasing by 7.3 percent for the same period.
“The fast-casual segment is being pushed towards higher standards by the difficult economic environment,” says Darren Tristano, Technomic EVP. “They are forced to compete for diminishing diners’ dollars while maintaining high quality fare. Leaders are innovating by introducing new value-priced menu items, retooling menus to boost sales during slower day parts and developing new programs like catering and selling retail packaged goods to supplement the bottom line.”
- Panera Bread and Chipotle Restaurants led the top 100 with unit growth of 13.5 and 19.4 percent over 2007, respectively.
- Bakery franchises, Mexican restaurants, and chicken categories had the highest growth in market share.
- The growth of green franchises and environmentally friendly stores is expected to continue for the foreseeable future.