Fast Casual Nation: The Best of 2014

The fast casual segment continues to be a the fastest growing segment in the restaurant industry. Innovative, chef-driven, health-conscious, farm-to-table, international fast casual concepts have come along as disruptors in the industry. In this special episode of Fast Casual Nation, brought to you by the Foodable Network, we take a look back at some of the concepts that are changing the way America eats. Watch the full episode to revisit some of this year's most memorable Fast Casual Nation moments of 2014 with this 'Best Of' episode.

And the Winners of the 2014 RIZMY Awards are...

Which brands came out on top this year? They were finally announced yesterday during the 2nd Annual Restaurant Social Media Index Awards ceremony, sponsored by SinglePlatform at the FSTEC NexGen conference in New Orleans. 

To refresh your memory the RIZMYs are not hand-selected. Instead, they are measured by DigitalCoCo’s proprietary Restaurant Social Media Index (RSMI), the largest collaborative resource of restaurant industry data in the world. Only the brands with the highest social scores were selected as the winners. 

This year's 10 categories were arranged in groupings. The first being the brand segmented awards, including the QSR Digital Brand of the Year, Fast Casual Digital Brand of the Year, Casual Dining Digital Brand of the Year, and Independent Digital Brand of the Year. The second were the specialty categories, including the Overall Brand in Mobile, Most Loved Brand, Most Influential Brand, and Location-Based Brand, all of which are returning categories from last year. The final categories are based on performance factors, including the awards for Digital Innovator of the Year and Digital Executive Team of the Year. 

All of the 2014 RIZMYs Finalists

All of the 2014 RIZMYs Finalists

So without further ado– DigitalCoCo is proud to announce this year's RIZMY Awards Winners

And the QSR Digital Brand of the Year is... Sonic DriveIn!

After arriving to the social party a little late in 2012-2013, they are certainly making up for lost time! Sonic was a finalist last year, but did not receive a title. However, this favored by millennials brand, won the Digital Brand of the Year in the QSR segment. 

And the Fast Casual Digital Brand of the Year is... Shake Shack!

This fast casual brand returns as a victor this year. Shake Shack was awarded the Most Loved Brand of the Year, last year. This brand is part of the Better Burger segment and is engaging consumers with social to compete with the crowded segment filled with burger joints. 

And the Casual Dining Digital Brand of the Year is... Hard Rock Cafe!

This rather recognizable name did not appear on the finalists last year. This casual dining restaurant has upped the ante in the social space– landing this year's top Casual Dining Digital Brand.

And the Independent Digital Brand of the Year is... AJ Bombers!

This fast casual brand is part of the independent burger boom. Returning from last year, this small operator owned burger joint is taking average of the burger boom, by using social media and is keeping up with the restaurant moguls. 

And the Overall Mobile Brand is...Rubio's!

The fast casual success, Rubio's is spreading all over the West coast. Appearing on the RIZMYs finalists list for the first time this year, the brand lands the Overall Mobile Brand award. 

And both the Overall Most Loved Brand & Digital Executive Team of the Year goes to... Buffalo Wild Wings!

BWW has risen faster than any other brand in platform effectiveness in the past year. After just being a nominee for a RIZMY last year, BWW returns this year for two major wins as the Overall Most Loved Brand and the Digital Executive Team of the Year.

And the Overall Most Influential Brand is...Taco Bell!

After winning two awards last year, The Digital Innovator of the Year and Overall Brand of the Year, this QSR mogul returns this year to win the Overall Most Influential Brand. 

And both the Overall Location-Based Brand & Digital Innovator of the Year goes to... Firehouse Subs!

This leader of innovation social campaigns returns to collect two awards this year proving their skillful digital engagement. 

Congratulations to the winning brands for creating quite a social buzz, that deserves to be recognized! 

Rubio’s Makes Waves in the Fast Casual Segment

Rubio’s Makes Waves in the Fast Casual Segment

By Kerri Adams, Managing Editor 

The fast casual segment is the fastest growing segment in the restaurant industry. Within this crowded marketplace, Rubio’s, a restaurant that brought  Fish Tacos to the masses, has become quite the success.

To survive and advance in the constantly changing fast casual landscape, a restaurant has to be able to evolve to keep up with the expectations of the consumers. Rubio’s started as a quick-serve restaurant in 1983, but morphed into a fast casual brand. Today there are roughly 190 Rubio’s restaurants in California, Arizona, Colorado, Utah and Nevada. Rubio’s helped define the fast casual segment, before there was even the term “fast casual.”  

Read More

Getting Fishy With the Founder of Rubio’s

In this episode of Fast Casual Nation, brought to you by the Foodable Network, we are by the coast at the Mexican fast casual success, Rubio’s. With the founder Ralph Rubio, we take a closer look at some of Rubio’s signature cuisine and learn how fish tacos were the initial inspiration of the brand. Watch the full episode as we discover how Rubio’s evolved from a quick-serve restaurant to a fast casual brand, while serving “Fresh Mex” dishes inspired by the ocean.