FastCasual.com’s editorial team released its annual list of the industry’s most significant brands and trends, awarding Panera Bread the top spot Sunday night at the annual gala in Chicago. Taylor Company sponsored the event, which included a cocktail hour, dinner and an awards ceremony to honor the winning brands.
This year’s list included 75 brands in which judges narrowed down from a pool of 900 nominations from FastCasual.com readers. Criteria included innovation, growth, social responsibility and overall contribution. The last 25 spots on the list went to the year’s most influential menu and technology trends as well as the industry’s most innovative marketing campaigns.
“We always take growth and sales into consideration, but we go beyond those as well,” said Cherryh Butler, managing editor of FastCasual.com. “It's takes a little subjectivity to identify brands that are taking risks to further the success and growth of the fast casual industry. Based on that criteria, Panera came out on top this year.”
Other gala sponsors incluced Marketforce, Coyle, Lighthouse, Aeris and KECdesign.
The 2015 Fast Casual Top 100 Movers & Shakers publicationis now available for free download.
All photos by Willie Lawless