Hunting for a fast-casual concept? Here are the 10 best

Published in FSD C&U Spotlight

Shopping for a restaurant concept to complement your current portfolio of proprietary and retail operations? Here’s a dream list of potential partners or brands to emulate. Technomic, the research sister of FoodService Director, partnered with and Restaurant Business magazine to rank limited-service chains by a combination of financial success and consumer popularity.  Here’s an introduction to the Top 10.

1. Panera Bread

panera you pick 2

Executives coined “Panera 2.0” as a label for the chain’s suite of cutting-edge tech initiatives, but the term could just as readily signify the reinvented bakery-cafe chain in its entirety—if the tag weren’t as stale as yesterday’s muffins. Something like "Panera 2.8" might be a more accurate way of capturing the changes that range from stripping recipes of additives to trying such unusual ingredients for a big chain as kale. The setup took four years; now, says CEO Ron Shaich, it’s payoff time. He cites the examples of Charlotte, N.C., stores that were collecting $33,000 in weekly sales pre-Panera 2.0 and about $45,000 afterward.


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Industry News & Opinion

The University of New Mexico’s proposed on-campus taproom has officially been approved by the school’s Board of Regents.

Construction on the $650,000 student union taproom will begin this summer and is expected to finish in August when students return to campus. The school’s food vendor, Chartwells, and UNM’s Dining & Food Services department will split the cost of the taproom evenly.

Designed by students in the school’s architecture department, the space will feature a rotating selection of beer and wine, and will also welcome guest brewers. Chartwells will be...

Ideas and Innovation

Three years ago, Colonial School District in New Castle, Del., started a pilot supper program at its high school. The goal: To make sure the district’s students, 57% of whom are on free or reduced-priced meals, would not be hungry when school is done for the day.

Since its inception, the program has expanded to 12 schools and now provides afterschool meals to children participating in YMCA activities. And it's just one of many such programs popping up in districts throughout the country, as operators add supper to the list of daily meals they provide for students.

Ideas and Innovation

We put our hydroponic gardens in a spot where students can watch them grow, but at the same time it’s safe from being tampered with. At one of our elementary schools, the gardens are in the kitchen, but there’s a window where students can look in as they walk down the hallway. Some even stop to count how many cucumbers they see.

Ideas and Innovation
food snap

We started a 50-member vegan team in response to students expressing the need for more vegan options. Between our monthly meetings, students are asked to take photos of foods they eat in and out of the dining halls to give us a true picture of the kinds of things they like and the kinds of foods that cause disappointment. This exercise has sparked a lot of conversation and given us more insight into what we could do better.

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