What Families Look For in Fast-Casual Restaurants

what families look for in fast-casual restaurants

What do families look for in fast-casual restaurants? Fast-casual restaurants are a growing industry segment, ranking at 9 percent of restaurant volume. Overall restaurant traffic has been down 4 percent in the last three years, and fast-casual traffic increased by 9 percent, according to NPD Group/CREST.

We know that the fast-casual segment is a growth engine of the restaurant industry, but we wanted to see what kids and families expect from this trend. What is the best way to find out? Conduct research with parents and their kids to learn more about what’s on the minds of today’s fast-casual diners. Here are some things that QSR  learned:

Fast Casuals have the food

Parents often go to fast-casual restaurants because they think it’s a better atmosphere for their families, but their children tend to want a fast-food restaurant instead. Why? Kids like the food, and they get a toy.

But lack kid-focus

Based on Jennifer Lopers’ interview with parents about fast-casual restaurants, most told that the traditional experience doesn’t address their children’s needs. As one dad tells us: “So at the end of the day, there’s nothing relatable to a kid […] If they have something specific that stands out and says ‘Oh so [this fast-casual brand] does focus on kids now,’ yeah then I think they would get the [family] business.”

Even if fast-casual restaurants have a kids’ menu, they often don’t feature it prominently on the menu board and often need more options. In addition, fast-casual restaurants rarely engage kids directly with packaging, messaging, or entertainment.

For businesses, this is an obvious opportunity. There are over 16 million birthdays in the USA, and according to research, we’ll address one of the opportunities for fast-casual brands, and that’s engaging kids directly. The following are strategies for involving families:

Engagement through packaging

Kids’ packaging isn’t just an opportunity to send a message to young customers; it’s an opportunity to interact with them and make them feel special. Kids can be incredibly imaginative and love feeling like they have a little “world” all their own.

Engagement through entertainment

Though a few parents told the interviewer, they were looking for more activities. Most said they would be delighted if more fast-casual restaurants offered toys and entertainment that appealed to the little ones. Furthermore, these options would meet three crucial needs:

  1. First, to make children happy and have fun.

“It would make [my kid] feel fairly special.”

  1. Allow parents some quiet or tranquility while their children are occupied and entertained.

“It would be, sure, that would be incredibly soothing if I could sit there, enjoy conversation, see my kids do something fun and new.”

  1. To increase family-related traffic.

“Therefore, if they received fresh stickers or a brand-new puzzle, kids would still be eager to play with it at home and would probably request to go there frequently.”

As one mom put it, the chance for fast-casual businesses to “check all the boxes” is to be included in the family meal cycle more frequently.

Discover the Right Restaurant for Your Family With SupplyCaddy

What families look for in fast-casual restaurants? There are a few key factors that families look for in fast-casual restaurants. They want a clean and welcoming environment, healthy food options, and reasonable prices. SupplyCaddy can help ensure your restaurant is ready for family customers by providing all the supplies you need to keep your space clean and fresh. 

Contact us today at [email protected] or [email protected] to learn more about how we can help you succeed.

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