The fast casual industry is hotter than ever. Just this month, several mainstream publications, including the Wall Street Journal and Time, have reported on its success and the fact that a variety of restaurant chains from quick-service to casual dining are trying to brand themselves as fast casual.
We've all heard the hype around Taco Bell's cantina bowl – it's a lot like Chipotle's burrito bowl – created by Chef Lorena Garcia with fresh ingredients, including guacamole, roasted corn an pepper salsa, a creamy cilantro dressing and pico de gallo. Applebee's recently launched Applebee's Express, which allows lunch customers to order and pay at the counter and seat themselves for a quick lunch.
Sunday, about 140 restaurant executives will gather in San Diego for FastCasual.com's 7th annual Fast Casual Executive Summit, where we'll discuss this trend and how fast casual restaurant operators can keep up this momentum. We even have a few QSR and casual dining execs attending in hopes of learning from some of the brightest minds in the industry.
If you can't make it to this year's event, be sure to check here for next best thing. We'll post stories, photos and video interviews from the Summit, where operators will discuss everything from technology innovations to marketing and social media tips. I'm especially looking forward to the CEO roundtable Tuesday when we'll learn about increasing sales, franchising and best practices in general from five successful CEOs, including Don Fox of Firehouse Subs and Frank Paci of McAlister's Deli.
Cherryh Butler has been a reporter for nearly 10 years, writing on a variety of topics ranging from the restaurant industry to business and health and fitness news. Before joining FastCasual.com as editor, she oversaw KioskMarketplace.com and PizzaMarketplace.com and contributed to RetailCustomerExperience.com. She's also written for several daily newspapers, magazines and websites, including The Kansas City Star and American Fitness magazine.