First, there was the “fast food” anomaly, where food business giants like McDonald’s and KFC exploited (and continue to exploit) society’s inherent need for convenience by serving up bargain-basement, quick, calorie-packed takeaways.
McDonald's has been at the centre of the increasingly exasperated backlash against junk food and its impact on obesity -, particularly amongst children. Subsequently, the junk food backlash in which consumers expressed a need for health-conscious food made from hearty ingredients, led the rise of the “fast casual” trend.
Here in Mzansi, Nando’s has plucked out a swift transition from “fast food” status to “fast casual” by investing in better-looking restaurant environments that feature local art and design.
They’ve charted their success by serving food made from arguably better, healthier, carefully sourced ingredients, and doing so just as quickly as the fast food outlets they were competing with.
The soaring acclaim of fast casual outlets in the culinary industry is driven by relatively-affordable-but-scrumptious food that can be taken away or eaten in an imperceptibly more Instagrammable restaurant ambience.
The growth of this bias has been further supplemented by the global economic downturn, which has diminished the consumption of luxury fine dining.
Naturally, this in no way implies that the consumer’s desire for flavourful food has been curbed.
This demand has aroused yet another innovative response from the market; cue the new “fast fine” trend, the latest movement in the way we eat in or out.
The fast fine notion partners the best of fast food and fast casual with all the things we absolutely love about fine dining.
It does away with all the negatives – struggling for reservations, overly extensive and complicated menus, waiters, long waits for food and/or service, expensive bills and tipping – and retains all the positive aspects in order to serve up Michelin-quality meals, quickly.
In essence then, fast fine hits the foodie sweet spot with excellent food at a lesser price and quicker turnaround time!
The focus on fresh ingredients, culinary finesse, and menus that change regularly are perfect for the new millennial mindset which wants every meal to be an “experience”.
But the trend isn’t just good for patrons. The restaurant owners benefit, too. Fast fine establishments don’t cost as much to set up as fine dining restaurants and the simplicity of the concept makes them easier to operate.
No wonder food critics and pundits are heralding the trend as a way to give the restaurant industry a new lease on life.