On this episode of The Barron Report recorded at Foodable.io, brought to you by Kabbage, we get to discuss how Generation Z, or Gen Z for short, is becoming the market that really matters as this segment of the population continues to grow. In this episode, Guest Host Rudy Miick leads the discussion about what is going to draw Gen Z as customers and as staff and team members for the restaurant industry.Read More
This week, Foodable Network released its first documentary— Fast Casual Nation: Changing The Way America Eats, on Amazon.
The full-length documentary, narrated by the network’s CEO and Executive Producer, Paul Barron, begins by exploring the food landscape that led to the birth of fast-casual concepts across the country.
“You had casual dining, you had fast food and that pretty well defined food service. Sit-down experience: you tipped, the service, longer wait times. Restaurants doing great sales volumes and then QSR, fast food. Nothing in between,” said Firehouse Subs’ CEO, Don Fox.
Modern Market’s CEO, Anthony Pigliacampo believes fast casual could not have happened if it wasn’t for the fast food segment teaching consumers how to eat out multiple times a week over a span of 30 years.
“I think what’s really happening is consumers are finally saying: 'Wait a second, I really need to eat out all the time because of my lifestyle. I’m a busy modern person, I need to eat out'... And we think that’s how consumers view fast casual and it is the fuel that enables them to have this modern lifestyle,” explained Pigliacampo.
Millennials, of course, are a big driver of the fast casual sector and with this generation growing up in a world where technology, food customization, and social media have all collided, it created the perfect storm to drive this food sector to new heights.
"This is a part of my life's work to explore the future of food. Fast casual is and will be a part of that future that is shifting in a big way today. This documentary is the first step in a mission that is designed to help the restaurant business shift into what will be the next generation of food. Fast casual is on the threshold of being a catalyst of how food and restaurant operations will flourish in the next 20 years,” said Barron, who has over 25 years of experience in the industry.
The film also touches on how some restaurants were able to survive the 2008 recession by getting creative with real estate, the changing attitudes of the consumer towards healthier options, and how traditional culinary professionals began moving into the fast casual space in order to make thoughtful food more approachable.
"It is clear that you cannot create a market, what happens is you can understand and see things in a different way. Understand how the consumers respond and then respond to it,” said Ron Shaich, founder of Panera Bread.
Fast Casual Nation: Changing The Way America Eats is not just a film for restaurant industry professionals. It’s a documentary where anyone from the business world, film world or even foodies can learn something from and enjoy!
Amazon Prime members can watch the film for free as long as they have an active account. Non-members can rent the high-definition movie for $2.99 or buy it for $9.99.
The way America eats is changing. We want better options. We want better ingredients. We want better sourcing. We want better experiences. We want food with a story — and we want it fast. The last four decades of fast food is fading and now we're making room for a new culture of good food: fast casual. And what is fast casual?
Find out in "Fast Casual Nation: Changing the Way America Eats." This full-length documentary, which has been 10 years in the making and which first premiered in 2015 during the National Restaurant Association Show, is now available for streaming through Vimeo On Demand and soon to be available on Netflix.
Follow Paul Barron, the pioneer who coined the term "fast casual" in 1993, as he travels around the country to share plates with the greats. Featuring Smashburger Cofounder Tom Ryan, Firehouse Subs CEO Don Fox, Modern Market Founder Anthony Pigliacampo, Panera Bread Founder Ron Shaich, and many others, dig into the stories of the iconic leaders and game-changers who are transforming the movement of our restaurants and the future of our food.
"My advice for people getting into the business is fast casual is clearly where one should expect to find the energy, the growth, and quite frankly, the ability to find what the next couple of generations are going to be eating on an everyday basis," Ryan said in the film. "By consequence of that everyday basis, it's where the biggest part of our business is going to grow to."
Fast casual — the societal shift and evolution from quick-service to high-quality, efficient, better-for-you, and better-for-the-environment ingredients — is the David vs. Goliath story of food. From Miami, Dallas, and Washington, D.C., to the Pacific Coasts of San Francisco, and all the foodie gems in between, this is documentary is more than exclusive interviews with top chefs and restaurateurs. "Fast Casual Nation" is our chance to change food for the better.
"I think the story shows the entrepreneurial nature of the restaurant industry and how consumers are driving change. There is a little something for everyone, whether you are in the industry and want to hear from your peers...or you just love food," film director Nathan Mikita said. "My hope is that you walk away with an education on how the restaurant industry has shifted, and that as consumers, we have a voice — we just need to choose where to put that capital."
Often times, we only see the rotten stories of foodservice: the inhumane, the unhealthy, and the distasteful. "Fast Casual Nation" is here to prove the foodservice industry is one of advancement and one of renewal, and that foodservice is not just filled with the bad apples we see dominating the food documentary scene.
"'Fast Casual Nation' is the first of many restaurant genre films that we [Foodable Network] are launching this year and next, as the need need for great stories about our industry is a huge injustice to the restaurant industry," Foodable founder, film writer, and executive producer Paul Barron said. "Our mission here at Foodable Network is to change that public perception that our industry is full of bad actors."
"'Fast Casual Nation' has been a dream of mine since I launched Fastcasual.com in the mid-90s, and even more so since the publishing of my book, 'The Chipotle Effect," he continued. "The full story is now in place. This documentary is really the first chronology of some of the greatest innovators our business has ever known. This is your chance, as a viewer, to become part of the revolution."
By Kerri Adams, Editor-at-Large
The fast casual known for its hearty and flavorful food, Firehouse Subs has just hit the 1,000 store milestone with its latest opening in Rowland Heights, California. The chain is in 44 states in the US, along with Puerto Rico and Canada.
"Building a brand of 1,000 units is not a common feat in our industry and Firehouse Subs is thrilled to join the less than 40 brands who have this distinction," said Don Fox, chief executive officer at Firehouse of America, LLC in a press release.
Giving Back to the Community is Part of the Brand’s DNA
The restaurant chain started 22 years ago by two former firefighters. Besides serving an array of meaty sandwiches, the chain supports a cause. With first responder roots, FHS has a mission to help hometown heroes with its Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation, which is “dedicated to improving the life-saving capabilities and the lives of local heroes and their communities.”
So it’s fitting that the brand would celebrate its major milestone with a charitable program. FHS is donating $1 million to support the 1,000 Automated External Defibrillator (AED) Gift Campaign, a program through the chain’s foundation. The co-owners will award 1,000 AEDS to police departments across the country. According to research by the University of Pennsylvania, only 30% of the country’s police stations have vehicles equipped with these life-saving instruments. An AED can make a major impact in an emergency situation. According to the American Heart Association, the use of an AED within three to five minutes after a victim’s heart has stopped improves their chance of survival by a whopping 70%.
With that being said, FHS decided to do its part so that more AEDs are available.Read More