What’s the difference between fast food and fast casual?

Fast Food

Fast food chains earned much of their success by offering quick, inexpensive meals that are always made the exactly same way, every time. Fast food chains like McDonald’s, Burger King, and KFC have been feeding millions of people since the early 1950s. Fast food restaurant owners know how much their customers value satisfying their hunger without breaking the bank or running late to a meeting.

Also known as quick service restaurants, fast food restaurants feed their customers for an average check size of about $5 a meal. They also offer consistency: A Big Mac in New York will taste the same as a Big Mac in France.

Fast Casual

Fast casual restaurants offer consumers freshly-prepared, higher-quality food in an informal setting, with counter service to keep things speedy.

Customers still expect the speed of a quick service restaurant, but they’ll also want a meal that tastes fresh. So how do fast casual restaurants do it?

They buy locally sourced produce and prepare it onsite. Sourcing local food also allows fast casual restaurants to offer customers healthier options, such as vegetarian and vegan meals or gluten-free ingredients. The inclusion of healthier menu alternatives also allows fast casuals to market themselves as better than fast food.

Over the last few years, fast casual restaurants have continued to eat into the market share of leading quick service chains. And, the fast food industry is not ignoring the trend. In late 2018, McDonald’s announced that it was removing all preservatives, fake colors, and other artificial ingredients from seven of its burger selections. Its menu now features a Southwest Grilled Chicken Salad, and you can get apple slices with a kid’s Happy Meal. Customers at Kentucky Fried Chicken now can choose fried or grilled. Taco Bell has a vegetarian option.

The restaurant industry is constantly evolving, and higher quality food is now a mainstay. Whether you’re looking to open a fast food chain or a fast casual cafe, you need to know what’s changing and how it could impact your business.

Expect to see the trend of mobile orders and delivery services increase for both fast casual restaurants and fast food locations. Tons of fast casual restaurants are partnering with mobile apps like Ritual, Grubhub, Hangry, DoorDash, and Postmates to help their customers skip the trip while still getting access to their favorite meals. Didn’t think you could serve food faster than a fast food restaurant? Think again.

About The Company

At OrderMatic, we develop solutions that enhance the customer transactional experience in new and innovative ways. For over 60 years, we have provided turnkey contract manufacturing services nationwide. From exploring digital menu boards to using presell menus effectively, there are many ways to improve your restaurant’s efficiency even beyond best sales practices. Contact OrderMatic to discuss how you can enhance both your drive-thru and dine-in experience!