The Cultural Niche: Fast Casual Restaurant Industry Trends


Fast casual restaurants are quickly becoming one of the hottest restaurant industry trends of the decade. The concept of fast-casual arose from consumers seeking healthier options that are still available on-the-go. Fast-casual restaurants are an attractive hybrid between fast food and casual dining, with a few elements borrowed from each. While full table service is not offered at fast-casual restaurants, the emphasis is placed on the use of high quality ingredients, fresh preparation, and a pleasant experience.

Restaurant industry trends show that growth in the fast casual market remained strong even through the economic downturn of 2008. More importantly, according to a survey of consumers in the summer of 2010, 30% of respondents stated the reason they had not eaten at a fast-casual restaurant in the past month was due to lack of availability. As consumers are seeking healthier options that are still fast and on-the-go, the fast casual market has a huge potential for growth. Demand is high, and the market is underserved!

According to Technomic, a widely respected food service research firm, diners are more interested in trying affordable authentic cuisine with local and sustainable concepts in high demand. Their research found that the specialty menu category experienced a 16% sales growth in 2013, and also increased locations by 11% that same year. With the fast-casual scene heating up, franchisees are faced with as many options as consumers.


Bruges Waffles & Frites is one of the newest franchise options in this sector. The concept began when Pierre Vandamme and Philippe Wyffels met and decided to recreate the flavorful Liège waffles they remembered from their youth—flavors that had been replaced with pre-packaged and mass-produced options. Once their recipe was perfected, the two debuted their waffle cart around Salt Lake City and farmers markets.

Then, as they shared their waffle experience, the demand for waffles began to be more than the cart could handle, and a year-round location was opened. Since then, the company has opened two more Utah locations, expanded their menu, and have continually received raving reviews from customers, media outlets and online review sites alike. Bruges is now excited to announce franchising opportunities throughout the Intermountain West as a chance for entrepreneurs to share a new alternative to fast food with fresh, made-from-scratch artisanal specialties.

With restaurant industry trends showing growth both for fast-casual restaurants and the demand for truly authentic cuisine, it’s clear that waffles just may be the wave of the future. Are you ready to ride it with Bruges?

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