Healthy Lifestyles Lead to Growth for Healthy Restaurant Concepts

Healthy Lifestyles Lead to Growth for Healthy Restaurant Concepts

Healthy Lifestyles Lead to Growth for Healthy Restaurant Concepts 1440 428 Chute Gerdeman

Restaurant brands are responding to consumer demands for fresh and healthy alternatives. In fact, nearly 70 percent of restaurants now offer a low-fat or “healthy” menu, according to Fast Casual’s State of the Industry Report. Beyond menu innovations, restaurants are now advocating for good food and healthy living, leading to the growth of new healthy restaurant concepts that cater to this health-minded consumer.

Healthy Food Fast

Historically fast food and healthy would be two concepts you’d be hard-pressed to find used in the same sentence. Major QSR brands—like the one recognized by the golden arches and the other best known for the fourth meal—modified menus to attract this health-conscious consumer, but consumers wanted more. Since then, fast-casual concepts like Chipotle and Sweetgreen not only ushered in the idea of good food fast, but started conversations around food itself. As educated consumers, we’re now no longer willing to sacrifice quality at the expense of convenience. Here’s a look at two brands stepping on the gas with new healthy fast food concepts.

QSR kitchen

With years of experience filling the frozen food aisles with convenient vegetarian meals, Amy’s Kitchen is heating things up in Roanoke with the vegetarian fast food concept, Amy’s Drive Thru. All locally sourced, organic, GMO-free menu items like burgers, burritos and mac ‘n’ cheese can be prepared vegan or gluten free. The sustainable approach to food preparation extends into the construction of the environment. Built from a reclaimed barn, the design integrates up-cycled materials in the interior, and incorporates living roof and on-site water tower.

fast food burgers

With a mission to make fresh, nutritious food accessible and affordable, Arizona-based Salad and Go set out to create an alternative to traditional fast food. Feeling as though consumers were forced to choose between health and convenience, founder Roushan Christofellis and her husband wanted to create change in America and realized that meant a drive-thru evolution. The menu centers around, as you could guess, salads. Customers can select from a handful of hearty 48-ounce salads like Caprese, Winter Harvest, and Thai or customize with their choice of protein and dressing. The fast, healthy brand keeps operational restaurant costs down through local sourcing and a small footprint. No indoor seating allows them to focus on the made-to-order super-fast salads. 

Niche Noshing

It’s no longer just about “healthy food” in broad terms. Restaurant brands are now catering to the unique flavor profiles and dietary lifestyles of consumers with niche concepts. Whether it’s vegetarian, vegan, gluten free or organic, these options are no longer special requests but core offerings.

With restaurants in seventeen states throughout the US, True Food Kitchen brings a unique approach to menu development. Built around Superfoods, the restaurant features dishes that follow Dr. Andrew Weil’s anti-inflammatory diet. Geared to help people counteract common diseases and maintain optimal health, the menu is eclectic with combinations like street tacos and spaghetti squash casserole, and there’s even a healthy selection of handcrafted libations, sustainable and organic wines, and local beers. This holistic food concept focuses on food for a healthier future.

Atlanta based MetroFresh describes their menu as improvisational catering to anyone’s dietary needs including popular diets like Paleo. And unlike most restaurants, MetroFresh’s menu changes every day to create a casual environment that allows people to feel like they’re just walking in to the kitchen and that’s what’s being prepared. The menu is posted everyday online where customers can not only check out the daily features, but also explore the blog to learn about the food from founder and head chef Mitchell Anderson. Providing a unique and personal food experience MetroFresh manages to offer “Fresh, Food, Fast” in an urban community environment.

Consumers are increasingly willing to pay for a meal they feel good about, which is evident from the $384 million in restaurant sales raked in from “healthy fast-casual” brands, according to Technomic. Just as the lines between fast-casual and QSR have blurred over the years, so are the expectations for food offerings. Healthy alternatives will not only become more accessible but also affordable and expected. For brands looking to grow their presence and create healthy restaurant concepts, consumers will look for environmental queues that convey an honest and holistic healthy position.

Craving more restaurant perspectives? Check out our insights article: The New Restaurant of the Future Formula.

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