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Domenick Celentano

Food Trends 2012 - Is the Fast Food Industry Going Upscale?

By December 20, 2011

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Fast Food is Going Upscale

Pret A Manger sandwich shops sandwich in a boxI recently wrote an article on Pret A Manger, the UK based sandwich shop chain with locations in New York, Chicago and Washington DC. Pret A Manger is an urban restaurant concept catering to upscale, urban, time starved, health conscious consumers who gravitate to their right-sized portions. Most fast food restaurants have moved to super-sized meals, adding to the already alarming obesity rate in the US.

I visited the Union Square Pret in Manhattan and it struck me that the menu and ambiance fell like fast casual yet it also operated like a fast food, quick service restaurant. It was Upscale QSR food in my mind.

Upscale QSR Food Trends

Upscale QSR is this... "when you see it, you know it".  The foodservice industry does not have a segment for upscale but it is growing.Starbucks Petites

Visit a Starbucks today and you will see their new Starbucks Petites. These are upscale mini Cake Pos, cupcakes, sweet squares and Whoopie Pies. Starbucks is QSR but it surely does not look and feel like "fast food". See the new White Castle concepts, Deckers, Laughing Noodles and Blaze... no burgers!White Castle,Deckers Triple Decker Grilled Sandwiches

I collaborated with Steve Johnson our Grocerant Guru on Fast Food Trends to Watch for 2012 - Moving Upscale. We cover:

  • Food Trends 2012 - Upscale QSR
  • QSR Restaurants McCafe and Tim Horton's moving Upscale
  • Why is the Fast Food Indutry Moving Upscale

Steves basic analysis is Quick Service Restaurants (QSR) look so similar in look, feel, menu and price. Retailers and Convenience Stores see this and are rushing to catch up. They saw Starbucks capturing a greater share ofQuickchek when you're ready-2-eat all day every day. stomach in the food and beverage market by going "up-scale".

The success of Starbucks and McDonalds McCafe reflects the consumer desire for  "up-scale" QSR's. Both have fatter bottom lines through their upscale ambiance and menu development.

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