The Future of Quick Service Restaurants

Future Food has a goal when we begin working on a food precinct or project and that is to ensure that what we develop and deliver a project that is ‘future-proofed’ - a project that will withstand the test of time and better yet transform with it. With our population evolving quickly, it is important that the food and beverage industry grows with the consumer and responds to their evolving wants and needs. Recent research by Deloitte on quick service (QSR) and fast casual restaurants shows that there are some very particular factors that make it easy for a person to choose a menu, spend more and return again and again and these factors will be some of the keys to future success for food and beverage outlets. 

image via Getty Images

image via Getty Images


A number of the findings revolve around technology. This is because technology is one of the assets that can aid a seamless customer experience. And the customer experience is a major part of business success. Whilst people still favour things such as location of a shop or affordability when it comes to this category of restaurants, they also want to invest in concepts that provide them with an enjoyable experience from personalised menu options recalled from the last order to complete online order systems. 

Here are 5 key facts found in the research that customers want from their QSR’s and fast casual restaurants into the future: 

  1. The number one factor for choosing a QSR or fast casual restaurant for the first time is the menu
  2. People also favour a menu that is able to be customised to suit their own taste
  3. At QSR’s, using technology to order is associated with an increase in visits from the customer
  4. 40% of people would prefer to order online and increase their spend by 20% if they do so
  5. People are much more likely to return to a QSR if the restaurant responds directly to their feedback

So what can we take from these facts? 

It’s important to remember first and foremost, that not every QSR or fast casual restaurant will suit all the technology that is available now and will be available in the future. You need to know your business and act accordingly or invest in using a consultant that can define this for you. 

The research tells us that people are still most concerned about the food. You can’t have every gadget and gizmo in your shop and expect people to come in purely based on that. People want to eat and they want to eat something they like. If they can eat that food and pair it with an impeccable experience then you’re winning. 

Sweetgreen , a healthy, whole food concept offering build-your-own salads with a conscience

Sweetgreen, a healthy, whole food concept offering build-your-own salads with a conscience

Do you have a build-your-own aspect to your menu? People are finding this feature to be one that will sway their choice. And it doesn’t have to replicate a build-your-own-burger booth like the ones you see at MacDonald’s but can be as simple as allowing customisations on the menu so that people can pick and choose. There is a time and place for both, it comes down to what style suits your concept or precinct. 

Online ordering spikes the average spend as well as increases the frequency of visit. The basic appeal of it is that it’s simple. It’s simple for people to tap a few times on their phone, add a few extras that they wouldn’t normally consider, pay with their stored card and have the ordering system remember what they ordered for the next time. It’s so simple that people find it much easier to spend and they’re spending up to 20% more per transaction. Consider integrating an ordering App into your system or you can even create your own App that allows for loyalty programs to be included in the ordering process. 

Tetsujin , Emporium has taken on self-managed ordering by installing iPads at every seating station (Image via  Broadsheet )

Tetsujin, Emporium has taken on self-managed ordering by installing iPads at every seating station (Image via Broadsheet)

And what if you get it all wrong and they leave a bad review? People don’t mind as long as you respond as the owner and act genuinely. Reviews and feedback can be used constructively to assist in refining and improving a QSR or fast casual restaurant if managed transparently and properly.  

These 5 facts are reflective of where our consumers are at at today when it comes to the food experiences they are getting from QSR’s and fast casual restaurants. If you look at them on a very basic level, people want delicious and diverse food that is accessible yet experiential and if they need to, to have the ability to have a conversation with the chef or owner to let me know where they felt their experience fell down. For QSR’s and fast casual restaurants that want to future-proof their businesses, it’s time to look at what our customers want and carefully and strategically respond to this.

Credits: Cover Image of Tetsujin at Melbourne's Emporium via Broadsheet