The Food Channel had a chance recently to meet with a number of executives from the Fast Casual segment of the restaurant industry. We spoke with several of the industry leaders about what they see coming in the year ahead.
Paul Barron thinks the impact of social media will continue to accelerate and facilitate interaction with customers. ‘In 2010 and beyond, we’re going to see a shift in the way consumers interact with brands, concepts and individual operators,’ he says, ‘And a shift in the way we interact with them.”
Dan Ross, Culinary Manager for Monarch/U.S. Foodservice, expects we’ll continue to see a more gradual approach to healthier eating. ‘Consumers are more concerned about ingredients. Food safety and quality are paramount right now. Folks are looking a little bit deeper than just the topline.’
Kate Geagan, MS, RD and author of ‘Go Green, Get Lean’ says the days of bottled water are numbered. ‘It’s two-thousand times more energy intensive and it costs a lot more. For restaurants, doing in-house filtering and adding carbonation will be more the norm.”
Valerie Killifer, Senior Editor for fastcasual.com sees several trends emerging. ‘Comfort foods, customer service and social media are three big areas I see,’ she said. ‘Much of the conversation has centered on those issues and I only expect that to continue over the next six to eight months.’