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6 New Trends in Fast Food Restaurant You Need to Know

Post on 26/06/2023

In recent years, there have been many new trends and changes in the fast food industry, such as healthier and higher quality food and more menu options. Fast food restaurant seem to be learning some advantages of fast casual to update themselves to be more competitive and stand out in the competitive market. So before we can understand the new trends of fast food restaurants, we need to understand what is fast food and fast casual.

Table of Contents

What is the difference between fast food and fast casual?

Fast food and fast casual sound like two similar concepts. They differ in that fast food focuses on quick service, limited menu options and lower prices, while fast casual offers a more relaxed atmosphere, higher quality food, broader menu options, and a slightly higher price range. More importantly, fast casual restaurants usually serve alcohol.

1. Concept and atmosphere

Fast food restaurants usually have a quick service concept that emphasizes speed and efficiency. They have a self-service model that focuses on takeout or drive-thru orders to support the fast-paced lives of commuters and students. Fast food restaurant generally have a casual and informal atmosphere with limited seating options, and many people choose to take away meals rather than eat in.

Fast casual bridges the gap between fast food and casual dining. They offer higher quality food and a more relaxed dining experience than fast food chains. fast casual restaurants usually have a modern and inviting atmosphere with comfortable seating areas for customers to enjoy their food.

Fast Food

2. Food quality and menu selection

Fast food menus are usually standardized and streamlined for quick production and assembly. They usually offer a limited number of menu items, focusing on popular fast food staples such as burgers, fries and soft drinks.

Fast casual restaurant usually prioritizes food quality and freshness. They may offer a more diverse and customizable menu featuring healthier options, fresh ingredients and a variety of flavors. fast casual restaurants may also incorporate popular food concepts and dietary preferences, such as vegetarian or gluten-free options.

3. Service style

Fast food restaurants are known for their self-service model, where customers place their orders at the counter and receive their food quickly. They can offer limited or no table service, and customers usually take their meals to go or eat in designated seating areas and stay for relatively short periods of time at a time.

Fast casual restaurants typically offer a higher level of customer service. Customers can order at the counter, similar to fast food, but the food is usually brought to their table. Some restaurants may also offer table service, or a hybrid model where customers can choose between self-service and table service.

4. Price

Fast food is usually associated with a lower price point, offering affordable and budget-friendly options.

Fast casual restaurants usually have slightly higher price points compared to fast food chains. This is because they usually emphasize the value and quality of their ingredients, more menu options, and better service, resulting in slightly higher prices.

What are the 6 new trends in fast food restaurants?

Fast food is so popular. The U.S. fast food industry has a market size of $331.41 billion in 2022, generating more than $25 trillion in annual revenue. It’s an enticingly vast market, and in recent years, the fast food industry has faced dilemmas and choices that have led to new changes, such as no-touch pickup, healthier dietary needs and environmental requirements.

For those in the fast food industry, seizing change and opportunity is the first step to success.

1. Contactless meal pickup

The impact of the outbreak has led fast food restaurant to invest more in contactless pickup, including self-order and pickup, takeout, and drop-off-free pickup. While these initiatives are designed to reduce contact, maintain social distance, and meet local health and safety guidelines, they also increase the level of automation and range of service in restaurants.

A. Self-ordering

Self-ordering systems were implemented in the past by ordering machines, whose main role was to divert customers. Today, they have a new and expanded form: QR codes pasted on the table.
Customers can order without leaving their seats, bringing both convenience and less contact with staff, in line with post-epidemic dining requirements.

B. Takeaway

In the take-out business, people are more likely to order take-out during lunchtime on weekdays amid the general trend of growing take-out share. People will prefer home delivery also because of the epidemic, but even if the impact of the epidemic tends to lessen, this habit is irreversible for a long time.

Takeaway Service

C. Drop-off and pick-up

Drop-off and pick-up is achieved through a window and a drive-through lane, where fast-food workers deliver prepared meals directly to the customer’s car window. This helps to divert and improve efficiency by eliminating the need for customers to get out of their cars and enter the store.

There is no doubt that the impact of the epidemic on the restaurant industry has been permanent, and operators have had to focus more attention and money on web ordering and take-out orders.

Most fast food restaurants have adapted well to online sales, using e-coupons, e-points, and social media campaigns to expand and consolidate consumers (especially young people) online.

2. Healthier menu choices

Many people focus on the convenience and deliciousness that fast food offers, while ignoring its health implications.

The calorie content of fast food varies depending on the food ordered, and the calorie content of a fast food meal usually depends on the choice of entrée, side dishes, drinks and desserts. However, an average fast food meal package usually provides about 800 to 1,500 calories.

This is a relatively high caloric intake, especially considering the total caloric intake required by a person for a day, as an adult only needs to consume 500 calories in one meal.

A. Reduce the sauce of high-calorie foods

Many people choose smaller portions of fast food, opt for low-fat and low-salt options, avoid adding extra sauces and drizzles, and combine healthy side dishes and beverage options to avoid consuming too many calories.

B. Provide standard calorie meals

Fast food restaurant are clearly noticing this trend, with most offering reduced or eliminated sauce options, and they are also offering more vegetable, fruit and salad options. McDonald’s restaurants in some areas offer a set menu option called “500 calories” that includes more salads and fruit to keep a meal at a standard level.

C. More vegetarian options

As the number of vegetarians and vegans increases, fast food restaurants are offering more vegetarian and vegan options. They are introducing veggie burgers, vegan chicken nuggets and other vegan options to meet the needs of consumers with different dietary preferences.

3. Multi-purpose equipment

With the increase in open hours and menu options, the kitchen has become increasingly tasked with multifunctional equipment, which is gradually taking up more and more of a role in fast food kitchens.

Fast food restaurants often need to complete a variety of food preparation in a limited space, and multifunctional equipment can integrate a variety of functions, such as multifunctional ovens, chopping multiple types of food processor rather than a single chopper. Especially multifunction ovens, many fast food restaurants will choose to have both steam and bake functions in order to perform both tasks.

Multifunctional griddles are also an option, as these units often have both flat and uneven sections, supporting both normal frying and leaving a beautiful charred brown pattern on the surface of the steak, which fast food restaurants can use to fry eggs, vegetables and steaks at the same time.

These multifunctional machines are more productive and efficient, they can handle multiple food items at the same time, and for fast food restaurants, speed is everything.

Automated equipment to reduce labor costs

4. Invest in automation products to improve efficiency

Running a successful restaurant is not an easy task and there are so many things to consider. In addition to the right kitchen layout, investing in automated equipment can also help create an efficient restaurant kitchen.

Even reducing half a person’s day through equipment efficiency can mean huge cost savings for companies large and small, and automated kitchens are something the restaurant industry is always looking for.

In some busy fast food kitchens, large fryers with edited menus, automatic fryer basket lift and oil strainer carts are used. It will raise and prompt itself at the end of the cooking time, and the staff can go to prepare other ingredients in those few minutes completely without supervision.

In addition, technologies such as self-ordering, inventory management, and smart kitchen equipment monitoring can improve order processing speed and data analysis, as well as enhance the automation and efficiency of restaurant operations.

Efficient fast food restaurant kitchen

5. Environmental protection and sustainable development

In recent years, the fast food industry has made many efforts in environmental protection and sustainability to reduce its environmental impact and promote sustainable development. Fast food usually means a lot of single-use plastic waste, and their pollution and waste cannot be ignored.

A. Reducing plastic packaging

To reduce waste, fast food chains have started to try to reduce disposable plastic packaging. Restaurants are replacing take-out packaging with biodegradable paper bags, reducing the availability of paper towels, printing eco-friendly slogans on menus, and eliminating disposable straws altogether.

Nowadays, when you order a Coke in a fast food restaurant, you will find the opening on the lid of the cup instead of the straw.

B.Waste separation and recycling

In addition to this, fast food restaurants actively promote waste separation and recycling. They provide waste sorting facilities and work with relevant organizations to ensure that waste is properly disposed of and recycled.

At first people showed discomfort with the various measures, but as time passed and the concept of environmental protection took hold, more and more people began to accept and advocate the idea of environmental protection and sustainability.

6. Localized taste

Localized taste is also a trend in the fast food industry. In fast food chains around the world (such as McDonald’s, KFC, Burger King, etc.), in addition to the classic pairing of burgers and fries, restaurants will continue to introduce new products that combine local flavors according to the season and adjust according to feedback.

In Japan, Pizza Hut has introduced sushi pizza, seafood pizza and charcoal grilled beef pizza, which combine traditional Japanese ingredients and flavors. In Mexico, KFC introduced a menu of fried chicken tacos with chipotle sauce, tacos and Mexican-style fries adapted to local tastes.

These new products have undoubtedly been well received by the local people. Adapting to local tastes means that fast food restaurant are communicating that they value and care, which is quite a wise means of expressing sincerity.


In today’s increasingly competitive world, some fast food restaurants are even trying to use open kitchens to attract customers and reduce the anxiety they feel while waiting. 

Either way, it means that fast food restaurants are keeping up with the industry, using healthy and environmentally friendly measures to reflect humanism, using multifunctional and automated equipment to increase efficiency and reduce labor, using contactless pickup to mitigate the impact of the pandemic, etc.

Chefmax stays on top of new developments in the fast food industry to improve fast food restaurant efficiency by creating one-stop automated kitchens, and we have a full range of multifunctional equipment that helps reduce training costs and reduce labor costs. 

If you need more information about one-stop fast food restaurant kitchen equipment, please contact Chefmax for an immediate response and detailed answers.

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