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Re-envisioning Your Brand to a Quick Service Model

image of chef in kitchen Photo by Rene Asmussen from Pexels

New cuts of meat

Chef-driven fast-casual concepts

Hyper-local sourcing

Veggie-centric/vegetable-forward cuisine

What do these things have in common? They are some of the top 2019 food trends on the rise, as reported by National Restaurant Association.

Just ten years ago, the crazes ranged from cupcakes to TV personality chefs like Rachel Ray, and then to a more organic and healthy mindset by the end of the decade. This once simple concept of a healthy mindset has become more complicated with trends like "camera eats first" and mostly vegetarian.

Consumer dining preferences have significantly changed in the past decade and are more specific than ever. Work hours are longer than before and people are often on-the-go, which has led to an increased number of fast-casual and quick-service restaurants. With picky customers and trendy dietary restrictions, there follows a greater demand for customization. The Chipotle model has broadened beyond Mexican cuisine to make-your-own salads and bowls at places like Sweet Green, modern Greek cuisine at Saloniki, to make-your-own personal pizzas at Blaze. These quick-service restaurants cater to the specificity of the consumer and allow modification of meals to accommodate many dietary restrictions.

With Instagram serving endless heaps of #foodporn, consumers are demanding more exotic and exciting meals pushing chefs to take risks and stay on-trend. It can be stressful for a restaurant to adapt to consumers' ever-changing needs.

But that's how the culinary world has learned to stay relevant—by catering to the people. Chef David Chang of Momofuku branched out into the quick-service industry with his restaurant Ko to make his food not only available to a broader demographic but to remain trendy in the greater NYC area. Chang also realized that in order to have a successful restaurant, marketing is key. Chang partnered with Nike to create the Nike SB Dunk High Momofuku shoe with the iconic peach logo. Although branding your restaurant's logo on a sneaker may not be every restaurateur's goal, it speaks to how important it is to stay true to your identity. Understanding how to utilize cohesive marketing, that not only continues to tell your story but also exposes new audiences to your brand, is key to tapping into these trends.

The importance of staying relevant has not bypassed chef-driven restaurants like Chang’s. Danny Meyer of Union Square Hospitality Group invested in the quick service restaurant, Tender Greens, a build-your-own salad restaurant. These iconic hospitality leaders have found that in order to stay relevant, they have to make their meals more approachable to the broader public. Something as ubiquitous as quick-serve salads shops tells us a lot about what these industry leaders are thinking about, and engaging with a much larger volume of guests, allows for an opportunity to showcase service and quality differentiators that create dining habits and a loyal customer base.

The growth of the quick-service industry in the United States has led many chefs and industry professionals to look to the segment as one with the potential to appeal to a broader customer base. By introducing the brand to more consumers, the brand is able to remain relevant in a constantly evolving industry.