If you’re seriously looking at a fast casual food franchise opportunity, your timing couldn’t be better. Not only has fast casual become the ‘growth darling of the industry’ (more about that later), it embodies many of the changes in consumer preferences and behavior of late, especially the desire for high-quality, imaginative cuisine.

In this article, we’ll update you on some of the fast casual market drivers and statistics that will help you see why an Edley’s Bar-B-Que fast casual food franchise opportunity is worthy of consideration for your investment.

What is ‘Fast Casual?’

Simply put, fast casual restaurant concepts offer the convenience of fast food without the full service of fine dining. Other characteristics of a typical fast casual restaurant include:

  • Limited service, order at the counter, or self-service
  • Off-premise and on-premise dining
  • Lower average meal price than fine dining
  • Higher quality and often locally sourced food compared to fast food
  • Made-to-order food with more complex flavors
  • Upscale, unique, or highly developed décor
  • No drive-through (with some exceptions)

Certainly, every fast casual food franchise opportunity may be slightly different. For instance, Edley’s Bar-B-Que is considering a drive-through service in 2022 to keep up with demand.

How “Fast Casual” Became The Darling of the Restaurant Industry

When it comes to restaurants, fast casual has been the growth darling of the industry for almost 20 years. While it still accounts for less than 10% of the total market, the number and diversity of fast casual restaurants have been exploding across the country, with an astounding growth of over 500% since 1999! This is good news for anyone seeking a fast casual food franchise opportunity.

Evolving consumer tastes and creative restaurant concepts are the driving forces behind this growth. Increasingly consumers are looking for healthier alternatives and are more dynamic in their tastes – they’re looking for more than the typical burger and fries. But what has not changed is the need for speed and convenience when it comes to grabbing a bite, particularly during the business day.

That is the gap that fast casual franchises have stepped into and dominated: higher quality, imaginative cuisine served to a population on the move. The sector is still evolving and expanding at a rapid rate – and there is a tremendous opportunity for the entrepreneur interested in a fast casual food franchise opportunity.

Fast Casual Market Size and Statistics

The fast-casual franchise industry is strong, growing at nearly three times the rate of the restaurant industry as a whole.

In 2019, the total fast casual market size was valued at $125.6 billion and is expected to reach $209.1 billion by 2027, registering a growth rate of 10.6% from 2021 to 2027. This includes the burger/sandwich segment which is expected to dominate throughout the forecast period.  When the burger/sandwich segment is removed, however, the remaining fast casual sales for the U.S. in 2020 are nearly $50 billion. That’s a sizeable market chunk to own a piece of when you consider a fast casual food franchise opportunity.

As you evaluate your fast food casual franchise opportunity, here are other notable statistics that may interest you:

  • Total Fast Casual Chain Units in the U.S.: 25,118
  • Average Ticket Size: $17.02 (no alcohol)

Fast Casual: State of the Industry

There are more than numeric statistics to consider when you’re evaluating your fast casual food franchise opportunity, Trends and consumer behavior should also be considered.

Paul Barron, founder of FastCasual.com produced a podcast and video called Fast Casual Nation: Changing The Way Americans Eat. Barron has spent the past 23 years tracking, identifying, and analyzing what drives the fast casual restaurant industry. Following is a summary of notable quotes from the video:

  • Fast casual has changed the way Americans eat.
  • Fast casual is a space where people can enjoy a great meal in a beautiful environment and eat great ingredients.
  • People want two things: people want food with a story, and they want that story to make them feel good about what they’re eating.
  • People now are more adventurous. As long as consumers are knowledgeable and trust the brand, that allows brands to go out and try some unique offerings.

“This is the food renaissance that people will look back on and say that’s when everything changed.’ (As we studied the market) we found a complete societal shift driven by consumer knowledge and expectations of something better.” – Paul Barron

Why Edley’s Bar-B-Que is a Fast Casual Food Franchise Superstar

By now we hope you’re convinced that the fast casual restaurant sector is worthy of your attention and further exploration for your fast casual food franchise opportunity. To recap, fast casual is:

  • The fastest-growing sector of the restaurant business
  • A $50 billion market
  • Undergoing a renaissance
  • Driven by evolving consumer tastes and creative restaurant concepts

And its consumers are:

  • Responsive to fresh ingredients and great, interesting food
  • Responsive to a dining establishment with a strong brand story

As you can see, there is no better time to invest in a fast casual food franchise opportunity. Now let’s take a look at what makes Edley’s Bar-B-Que a stellar choice.

Consumers want something more than a burger, fries, or pizza. America’s love affair with barbeque is growing, not waning. Edley’s Bar-B-Que capitalizes on consumers’ desire for smoky meats and homemade sides that remind us of home-cooking, picnics, and good times. Comfort food is expected to lead the way in dining choices, and Edley’s Bar-B-Que has it all.

While some fast casual restaurants do not serve alcohol or have limited bar offerings, Edley’s Bar-B-Que exciting bar environment offers a full bar complete with specialty house drinks and craft beers. Guests can come in for a drink and a snack, or a full meal. We believe our bar raises the average meal ticket considerably.

Our atmosphere is Southern-friendly with rockin’ vibes. Patio or bar seating and indoor dining offer a myriad of choices and attract a broad audience, including families and their four-legged members.

Speaking of choices, we also offer curbside, takeout, and catering so our guests can enjoy our food wherever they are. And in 2022, we plan to offer our first drive-thru.

The consumer trend toward the freshest ingredients and interesting food describes Edley’s Bar-B-Que in a nutshell. We make everything fresh – no microwaves here. And we make it fresh every day. Now about interesting… how about the cheese grits dish affectionately called ‘wet sand casserole?’

What’s Not To Love?

Fast casual is clearly here to stay, and so is Edley’s Bar-B-Que. Our welcoming atmosphere and fresh, delicious food are some reasons consumers love us, but there are many reasons for our franchise owners to love us. Our franchise owners love that our average gross sales for franchises are nearly $3 million, which is double the industry average for investment-to-sales ratios.

Wouldn’t you agree that it’s time you took a hard look at Edley’s Bar-B-Que for your fast casual food franchise opportunity of choice? You can get started right now, right here.