May 1, 2018

Inside the Fast-Casual Restaurant Industry Boom

The fast-casual market has grown a remarkable 550 percent since 1999 – more than 10 times the rate of the fast food industry during the same period. So, it’s no surprise fast food restaurants have tried to compete with fast-casuals by using fresher ingredients in their food.

On the other side of the coin, you have casual dining restaurants – from Cracker Barrel to Buffalo Wild Wings – attempting to tap into the fast-casual market by altering their concepts and making their food and service, well, faster.

Understandably, nobody merges fast and casual dining quite like a fast-casual restaurant – a hybrid bred to satisfy the consumer’s desire for nutrient-rich meals along with his long-held need to get food in a hurry.

Since the first Capriotti’s restaurant opened in 1978, the not-so-secret secret to our success has been our high-quality, fresh and all-natural ingredients. Combine that with our reasonable prices, fast counter service and comfortable-yet-upscale ambience, and you have a successful fast-casual restaurant – before the term “fast-casual” even hit the scene.

The fast-casual food trend doesn’t just entice consumers – the concept is equally appealing to aspiring restaurateurs. Here are a few reasons why:

It’s in High Demand and Poised for Continued Growth

Capriotti's sandwich fast casual franchise

The fast-casual segment has seen exponential growth during the last 20 years, and the demand for fast-casual fare is expected to continue its upward trend. One of the largest, fastest-growing and highest-buying power demographics – the sought-after millennials – make up nearly half of fast-casual consumers. While the lowest-priced restaurants reigned supreme in the past, there’s been a seismic shift in consumer behavior, as people look for cleaner, higher quality food – and are willing to spend a little extra for it.

It’s Affordable for Both Patron and Entrepreneur

While the typical receipt for fast food is lower than fast-casual food, customers get a much better value at fast-casual restaurants. Although most fast-casuals can’t compete with a $5 fast food meal ticket, they provide much higher-quality food for just a few dollars more.

At fast-casuals, consumers get natural ingredients, hand-made food, a more enjoyable sit-down environment and oftentimes, some form of table service. This creates significant value-add for not much more money.

Fast-casuals are similarly cost-effective for entrepreneurs – and not just because of the consistently high consumer demand. The counter-service operations in a fast-casual don’t require as much real estate as a full-service restaurant, which often attracts the same consumer demographic. This translates into cost savings on rent or initial purchase price, as well as ongoing maintenance and utilities costs. And, because the staff preparing the meals is the same staff serving customers, fast-casual restaurateurs also save on payroll.

It’s Easier to Run than a Full-Service Restaurant

Capriotti's sandwich fast-casual franchise

The smaller restaurant staff alone make fast-casual models easier to run than full-service restaurants. They offer the same high-quality meals customers find at full-service concepts, but they don’t need as many experienced hands in the kitchen. This also makes the hiring and staffing process much easier, especially when talented cooks are hard to find.

Also, while some fast-casuals adopt seasonality to mirror chef-driven restaurants, they don’t require a change of menu every season. With more economical staffing, consistent menu options and streamlined operations, fast-casuals are much simpler to manage than other restaurant models.

How We Fit In

Within the fast-casual industry, sandwich concepts are in the top three biggest segments for growth opportunities, already controlling 27 percent of fast-casual market share. This, in conjunction with the growing demand for cleaner food, is great news for Capriotti’s.

Not only have we been known for our all-natural, mouth-watering sandwiches for years, our exceptional service and high-value offerings have set us apart from the competition since the very beginning.

We’re excited to be part of the growing fast-casual industry and look forward to bringing America’s favorite sandwiches to even more markets, while providing an unparalleled business opportunity for our franchise partners.

To learn more about franchise opportunities within a rapidly-growing industry, contact us at 702-374-4746 or