The last couple of years have been interesting ones for business owners, to say the least. Many had to pivot their offerings and service delivery models in order to adapt to pandemic-related restrictions. The restaurant industry in particular was hard hit, with customers either not allowed to or not willing to dine in. Although the pandemic isn’t exactly in the rearview mirror just yet, life has been getting back to normal, and restaurant owners are looking forward to a busier 2022. In particular, fast casual restaurants are proving particularly popular among consumers.
What exactly is a fast casual restaurant?
Before diving into the growing popularity of fast casual franchises in 2022, it can be helpful to take a closer look at what fast casual restaurants are. For quite some time, the restaurant industry had two main categories: fast food and fine dining. Fast casual is found somewhere in between these two. It’s more informal, convenient, and affordable than fine dining, but offers much better quality, taste, and nutrition than fast food. The meals are made-to-order, with dine-in or take-away options available along with limited service and/or self-service.
The growing popularity of fast casual restaurants in 2022
Fast casual restaurants do not serve fast food, but they do serve food fast, and the convenience combined with the exceptional taste and quality has proven a popular one with consumers. The fast casual niche is growing at a rapid pace. In 2019, it was valued at an estimated $125.6 billion. By 2027, some experts believe the fast casual niche will grow to more than $209 billion. However, this estimate may actually be too low. By 2022, fast casual restaurants in the U.S. raked in more than $150 billion—roughly a $25 billion increase over 2019.
How did fast casual restaurants survive the pandemic?
Fast casual restaurants proved exceptionally resilient, in large part due to their service model. Fast casual eateries offer the option to either dine-in or take-away. This means that when they needed to pivot to a 100% take-away model, these restaurants had the benefit of a pre-existing system. Their food was already proven to package and travel well, which pleased their socially distancing customers.
The future looks just as bright for the industry. During the pandemic, roughly 30% of restaurants of various types were forced to shut their doors permanently, and another 20% are still struggling. Yet, the fast casual restaurants are flourishing, and because of the many shuttered doors elsewhere, these eateries are in fact busier than ever.
2022 is a great year to open your fast casual pizza franchise
If you’re thinking about opening a fast casual restaurant and you’re sorting through your franchise options, it’s time to take a closer look at Smokin’ Oak Wood-Fired Pizza. Our franchisees and customers alike love that our restaurants occupy the unique, wood-fired pizza niche, and our fresh, high-quality ingredients can’t be beat! With fast casual restaurants on the rise, now is the time to cash in on the opportunity. Our franchise model includes extensive training and marketing support for each franchisee. Contact Smokin’ Oak today to find out how you could become the proud owner of a fast casual pizza franchise!