Fast-Food Restaurants Testing ‘Fast Casual’ Upgrade

“Fast casual” is reportedly emerging as the newest trend in fast food, particularly for pizza entrepreneurs who want to capitalize on the fact that Americans are eating more of the pies than ever before.

What is fast casual? Time defines it as follows:

“The idea, which the value-conscious, pressed-for-time American consumer has embraced with open arms, is to offer a speedy dining experience with better quality than typical fast food, at a better price than a typical sit-down restaurant.”

Among the franchise restaurants that have successfully adopted a fast casual menu include Chipotle, Panera Bread, and Five Guys.

According to a recent study, 41 percent of consumers polled say they’re now eating pizza once a week, compared to 26 percent in 2010.

Time notes that a number of pizza chains in southern California and elsewhere are trying to roll out fast casual, otherwise known as the “Chipotle-ization of pizza”:

‘What all of these establishments tend to have in common—with each other, and with Chipotle—is made-to-order customization, in which diners select exactly which toppings they want on which kind of pizza … Also: speed.”

Zagat further describes how fast casual applies to pizza parlors:

“Subway did it for sandwiches, and Chipotle did it for burritos. The idea that you can walk into a place, tell someone exactly how you want your food while walking down a line and have it made fresh in front of your eyes was a novel. Turns out it still is. Customized, hot-out-of-the-oven pizza is the next big trend here in LA – fresh dough patted out, topped with sauce and quality toppings of your choice, and then fired in a wood-burning oven only to be delivered in mere minutes from the time you ordered it.”

In general, are you willing to spend a little more on so-called fast-casual dining rather than typical fast food? Would a three-minute-or-less pizza convince you to eat more of them?