Fast-casual restaurants on the rise

Aug. 05, 2014 @ 11:26 AM

Chapel Hill-based QSR Magazine, which covers the national quick-service restaurant industry, released its QSR 50, a ranking of the top 50 fast-food brands based on annual revenues.

Thirty-three of the restaurants have at least one location in the Durham-Chapel Hill region.

QSR Editor Sam Oches, a resident of Durham, said he sees the general trends of the list reflected in the local market.

Oches said Durham is a young and growing city and caters well to the fast-casual restaurant concept, which is defined as a style of fast food often involving slightly more expensive, healthier, fresher and more varied dishes than traditional fast food restaurants.

And in Durham, this concept has played out at both the independent and chain level, with restaurants like Nanataco, Rise, Chipotle and PDQ.

Oches said the fast-casual pizza concept also represents an untapped market in Durham.

According to the QSR 50, fast-casual concepts like Panera Bread and Chipotle have outpaced many of the major fast-food chains in terms of growth.

In 2003, Chipotle had $335 million in system-wide sales. This year, it had $2.27 billion, a nearly 600 percent increase. McDonald’s, which has topped the list each year, has grown its revenues by 54 percent since 2003.

Wendy’s revenues have increased by about 20 percent since 2003. Panera Bread’s have increased by nearly 250 percent.


10 Durham products: Our State Magazine, in conjunction with Kirsten Ballard on behalf of the Durham Convention and Visitors Bureau, published a list titled “Ten Durham-Made Products You Shouldn’t Miss.”

The list includes Big Spoon Roasters, Brood Soda, The Brothers Vilgalys Spirits, Bull City Designs, Burt’s Bees, Firsthand Foods, Mati Energy Drink, Mill & Bird, Mystic Bourbon Liquer and Organic Transit.


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