Is Fast Casual Dying? Emerging Brands Tell a Different Story

Despite major losses on the Nasdaq for national fast casual brands like Chipotle, Panera Bread, and Noodles & Company, fast casual emerging brands like Freshii, Corelife Eatery, and Sweetgreen are growing.

Based on Top 150 Emerging Brands Data

Based on Top 150 Emerging Brands Data

Foodable defines an emerging brand as a concept that finds itself at the beginning stages of development, whether it’s just launching or it’s working through the minutiae of scaling and expansion.

According to Foodable Labs, restaurant traffic overall has gone down 6.8 percent year over year, based on social media mentions of the top 1,000 chains, while emerging fast casual brands have seen an 8.2 percent increase in restaurant traffic.

Nasdaq claims that fast casual is a dying trend, but we believe this is just a shift in the trend.
Emerging brands can’t stay an emerging brand forever, eventually, they begin to scale and gain notoriety across the nation, if done right. National brands like Chipotle are simply seeing natural market forces.

They face greater competition as they continue to expand, as well as more challenges. Whereas an emerging brand is just beginning to build brand recognition. Emerging brands are more nimble when they’re smaller and face less scrutiny.

To learn more about what that exactly means for restaurants, be sure to watch the video above and download the Top 150 Emerging Brands Report.

Flying High: Fastest Growth in Chicken Concepts

Flying High: Fastest Growth in Chicken Concepts

Once upon a time, fast casual chicken restaurants were a dime a dozen- the packaging might have been different, but the tastes were largely the same. We talked to two trailblazing companies on their approach to chicken and what they're doing to set themselves apart from the competition.

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Matt Hood of The Habit Burger Grill — Breaking Down the Better Burger Boom

Better burger concepts in the fast-casual arena are booming and competition is becoming tighter. An American staple that was first captured in mass production by McDonald’s has been driven to a state of better quality in the fast casual sector, and the “better burger” boom continues to soar — and evolve. Shake Shack and The Habit Burger Grill are now both public companies, proving in a literal sense that burgers are money.

But as beef prices continue to rise and alternate proteins are added to more menus — a result of both cost-effectiveness and consumer palates more open to exploring beyond the traditional burger — what will become of this segment?

In this episode of Fast Casual Trends TV, brought to you by the Foodable Network, host Paul Barron sits down with Matt Hood, CMO at The Habit Burger Grill, to discuss the evolution of the burger: where it’s been, where it’s at, and where it’s going.

Paul Damico of Focus Brands — Predicting the Future of Fast Casual

In this episode of Fast Casual Trends TV, brought to you by the Foodable Network, Host Paul Barron sits down with Paul Damico, EVP & Group President at Focus Brand Restaurants. Damico explains why Fresh Mex — and ethnic, in general — has mass appeal when it comes to the fast-casual format, what effects the rise of QSR+ may have on this segment, and what upcoming trends we should expect to see in the space.

Carin Stutz of McAlister’s Deli — How a Sandwich Chain Stays Competitive After 26 Years

In this episode of Fast Casual Trends TV, brought to you by the Foodable Network, host Paul Barron is joined by McAlister's Deli President Carin Stutz at the Fast Casual Trends & Directions Conference. With the sandwich segment being a powerful emerging leader in the fast-casual space, how does a 26-year-old brand stay competitive in an ever-evolving market? What ingredient trends does McAlister's Deli follow? And how do they engage with both new and loyal consumers to stay top of mind? Watch the full episode to find out all of the above, and more!