Fast Casual vs. Fast Food: What’s the Difference?

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What main difference sets both categories apart when it comes to fast-casual vs. fast-food restaurants?

If you have been to a burger joint, like McDonald’s before, you know that they’re all about quick order turnover without minimum hassle.

Customers are usually crammed in there during peak days, so what type of service is McDonald’s offering there? As it turns out, the food chain is labeled as fast-food, where the emphasis on in-house ambiance is very minimal and practical.

On the other hand, fast-casual is all about a hybrid fast food + classic dishes menu focusing on ambiance so that customers can dine in on a whim. In McDonald’s case, a massive chunk of the customer base comprises walk-in patrons or drive-thru people who have no intention of eating then and there.

The quality of food in fast-casual restaurants is slightly better, in fact, much better than fast-food joints. Yes, KFC’s and McDonald’s food might be tasty, but the quality of ingredients is not top-notch. On the other hand, fast-casual is upscale, and they emphasize the freshness of the ingredients.

Lastly, the fast-food service model is based on QSR (*Quick Service Restaurant) workflow management. There’s a FIFO approach, where customers are served on a ‘first in; first out’ basis. Fast-casual capitalizes on the customers’ ability to enjoy their food while biding their time on the table.

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