Technomic Examines Performance of Top 100 Casual Dining Chains
CHICAGO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Even with its recent troubled performance, casual dining restaurants remain the fastest-growing and most prevalent sector among full-service operators. However, there are signs of structural changes emerging within the casual dining segment. Consumer lifestyles and demands are shaping the look of casual dining, due in part to growing income divergence among Americans, according to new research published in Technomic’s 2007 Top 100 Casual Dining Report.
Even as the affluent are increasing their disposable income, the rest of the population is experiencing stagnating incomes and increasing pocketbook pressures from the rising cost of necessary expenditures such as healthcare, health insurance, educational expenses, food and fuel. This divergence in household incomes also helps explain a growing split in the casual dining segment, where some consumers are trading down to fast-casual limited-service restaurants, whereas others are trading up to more upscale “polished” casual dining alternatives.
But disposable income pressures are only part of the story. “If there’s any one prevailing theme we see throughout casual dining, it’s the demand for convenience and value,” says Darren Tristano, Executive Vice President of Technomic Information Services. “This is the common denominator that has driven much of the growth in the segment via successful curbside takeout and catering programs.” Tristano noted that takeout sales at casual-dining chains grew roughly 10 percent annually over the last three years.
Another key trend shaping casual dining is the ebb and flow of consumer awareness regarding healthy eating. Last year, concern over trans-fats took center stage, with several casual dining chains, including major players such as Olive Garden, Red Lobster and Chili’s, racing to remove trans-fats from menu items.
Even as the largest casual dining chains turned in solid performances last year, it is interesting to note the exceptional growth of several smaller up-and-coming chains. Cheeseburger in Paradise topped this list, with a whopping 62 percent estimated growth in sales over 2005.
Fastest Growing Casual Dining Restaurant Chains
Ranked by % Sales Growth
2006 U.S. Sales
2005 U.S. Sales
Cheeseburger in Paradise
Boston’s The Gourmet Pizza
BJ’s Restaurant & Brewery
Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar
Buffalo Wild Wings Grill & Bar
Abuelo’s Mexican Food Embassy
Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.
* Technomic estimate
Fastest Growing CDR Chains Ranked by % Sales Growth
Technomic’s new report provides a comprehensive snapshot for all chain restaurant operators competing in the casual dining segment, as well as suppliers to this segment of the restaurant industry. The report thoroughly examines the top 100 casual dining chains, with detailed coverage of overall performance and the fastest-growing concepts, menu composition, analysis of nine unique subsegments and the emerging “polished casual” segment, takeout amenities, individual chain profiles, contact information and more.
In related news, Technomic is about to undertake a major new study on the future of casual dining—a key strategic issue for many chain operators and their suppliers—that will employ consumer focus groups, extensive quantitative consumer research, and restaurant experience audits as primary research tools.
To purchase or learn more about the 2007 Technomic Top 100 Casual Dining Chain Restaurant Report, please visit www.foodpubs.com or contact one of the individuals listed below.
About Technomic Information Services
Technomic Information Services has been tracking the foodservice industry for over 40 years, providing industry intelligence, forecasts, data and training support to manufacturers, operators, distributors and others allied to the field. Our numerous publications and digital products—featuring quick-read newsletters, analytical annual reports, training handbooks, sales guides and restaurant chain profiles—help industry leaders keep a finger on the pulse of the entire foodservice terrain. Technomic Information Services delivers distinctive, premium content to its customers.
About Technomic, Inc.
Technomic provides food and foodservice clients with the research, insights and strategic consulting support they need to enhance their business strategies, decisions and results. Its services include category and channel analyses, customer satisfaction studies, opportunity assessments, benchmarking programs and brand equity enhancement.