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How to 'Fast Cas' Your Menu

Buffalo Chicken Panini

Fresh and flavour feature big in ‘fast cas’ success

The fast-casual dining model is helping itself to more of the market share, especially to the 25- to 34- year olds who crave quality as much as convenience and see fast-casual as a healthier option than traditional quick-serve restaurants. The good news is that everyone can add a little 'fast cas' to their menus and simultaneously increase their price points and their customer base.

Here’s how.

Feature Fresh. The clearest marker of the fast-casual appeal is fresh. All-natural and in-season ingredients tap into Millennials’ love for farm to table. Knowing this, fast-casuals regularly add one or two signature items per season.

Try adding something seasonal to your menu: a new item that has in-season fruits or vegetables front and center (meaning, in the name). Take advantage of the annual introduction of an item to make a big menu splash, with lots of attention on the "fresh" and "local" ingredients.

Fast Casual menu concepts are able to command higher price points due to the perception of higher "quality" and "freshness" and consumers are willing to pay an average of $0.65 higher for these types of items.* Adopting items on menu that display these attributes will in turn allow for higher cheque averages.

Fancy Flavour. The other hallmark of the fast-casual environment is adventurous flavour. New and ethnic flavours have the most traction among younger consumers. Polls show that 32 percent of all customers are more interested in new flavours today than they were a year ago, and Millennials (45% appeal) lead the way in the hunt for flavour excitement.**

Woo these flavour hunters with unique sauces to garnish your sandwiches and sides. Richardson’s robust line of adventurous sauces can help you create your own with minimal cost and waste. 

Or upgrade a customer-favorite sandwich to a panini. Tim Horton’s is proof that these premium sandwiches are still hot. The growing Coffee-Donut operator is adored for coffee but have recently begun making more "premium" offerings on lunch through their panini program. The Tuscan Chicken featuring seasoned white chicken, tomatoes,red onions, mozzarella cheese topped with a creamy sundried tomato sauce which is served hot off the panini press.

Are you ready to 'fast cas' your menu?

* Technomic Canadian Flavour Trend Report: 2013
** Technomic Canadian Value and Pricing Report: 2013

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