Fast-Casual has become Fast-Transition

Article by: Lynne D. Shelton & Madeline Jones

As our society transitions out of pandemic times, it seems some of our old habits are here to stay. While in person shopping and dining used to be the only options, delivery and curbside pickup options are remaining highly desirable to consumers even as government regulations lift. This trend is unlikely to change based on current market projections. The general consumer mindset has shifted with food trends, focusing on quality of ingredients and importance of health. However, the intersection of quality ingredients served quickly in a “fast-casual” setting meets society’s interest in health, while maintaining the speed needed for our fast-paced day-to-day life.
Fast-casual restaurants are those which offer faster service than traditional full-service restaurants, focusing on healthier ingredients and higher food quality, while maintaining a quick turnaround time to incentivize fast, yet healthy meals to those constantly on the move. Between 2022-2026, The Global Fast Casual Restaurants Market is expected to grow by $186.27 billion, accelerating at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 12.41% during the forecast period.
Through the pandemic time, our society seems to have renewed interest in the importance of time. As a franchise opportunity, fast-casual restaurants provide a niche for those interested in established brand loyalty, while maintaining the focus and importance of quality and health in the restaurant industry. Fast-casual restaurants are accessible to a wide range of consumer bases, depending on the offerings and the demand in the particular locality. By focusing on a need in the market for every day, reliable options, fast-casual restaurants provide a unique business opportunity in every demographic margin.
Although owning your own restaurant can be daunting, doing so under the umbrella of an established franchise with brand value, fast casual restaurant franchisees get the best of both worlds. The opportunity to establish a business under an already recognized name, with an established operation plan, creates a unique opportunity for restaurateurs looking to open a business with lower start up costs and lower overhead overall than traditional full-service restaurants. The fast-casual business model allows for less square footage required, as well as fewer employees working at any given time to operate the business. By keeping overhead lower, fast-casual restaurant franchisees are given the space and time to increase their profit margin, without being bogged down by the complexities of operating and maintaining a full-service restaurant.
With work from home business model on the rise, many have begun to utilize the ample delivery options technology has made available, particularly in more metropolitan cities. As technology increases the ability to work from home, fast-casual restaurants, where a quick and healthy lunch or dinner is available at your doorstep in minutes has become a staple for many working people, evidenced by the rise of “ghost kitchen” franchisee models appearing throughout the country.

The advent of ghost kitchens has changed the fast casual restaurant industry considerably. A “ghost kitchen” refers to a fast-casual restaurant that is solely a kitchen, without a dining room. Although “ghost kitchens” are only recently gaining traction, Euromonitor International predicts the overall industry is expected to reach a total valuation of $1 trillion dollars by 2030. In theory, a ghost kitchen is created to cater specifically to food delivery services to meet consumer demand. Although the fast casual restaurant industry maintains storefronts in the traditional sense, the inclusion of ghost kitchens has enabled many to open up profitable restaurants, despite that their business is primarily centered around food delivery, rather than traditional, in-person customers.
As our societal perception of food and access to it continues to change, fast, casual restaurants seem to be the most adaptable in all unprecedented times. Whether you decide to pursue a fast-casual restaurant opportunity, or simply a “ghost kitchen” model, keeping the focus on high quality ingredients and food product while maintaining a fast turnaround time is sure to bring success in years to come.

Madeline Jones is a recent graduate from McGeorge School of Law concentrating in intellectual property law. Additionally, she works as an attorney at Shelton Law & Associates working primarily with franchises, providing guidance and support regarding formation and maintenance of their franchise. Madeline enjoys the multitude of pieces which combine to make up the overall puzzle of a promising and growing franchise, as well as the variety of individuals, services, and products associated with each franchise concept.

Ms. Shelton in a previous life was a franchisor of a large franchise system, and is currently the Senior Attorney for Shelton Law & Associates franchise law firm, as well as a franchisor owner in an international franchise system, and CEO of an International Non-profit company specializing in training entrepreneurship to young adults.

Shelton Law & Associates (“SLA”) Attorneys have 50+ years’ business consulting, franchise and trademark experience. Their knowledge facilitates an understanding of a large variety of businesses, services and technologies. They help businesses protect their Brands through Trademark, Copyright, and Business contractual transactions. These services allow SLA to “Expand their Brand®” through Franchising. For Franchisors, SLA provides full outsourced in-house counsel.

Shelton Law & Associates additionally works with entrepreneurs buying franchises by assisting with Business Creation, Industry Evaluations, Franchise Disclosure Document Review, Fairness Factors, Opinion Letters and Negotiations.

For more information or to schedule a customized consultation for your business, you can write to franchising@SLA.Law or call (866) 99-FRANCHISE.