There were roughly 15,728 fast-casual-chain restaurants in the U.S. as of the end of May 2013, according to The NPD Group. That equates to five Panera Bread, Five Guys Burger and Fries, Wahoo’s Fish Taco or other fast-casual unit per every 100,000 Americans on average. In the Fort Collins/Loveland, Colo., metro area, however, the density is 13.14 fast-casual restaurant per 100,000 residents, making it the most fast-casual-heavy community in America.
Holding the No. 2 and No. 3 positions on NPD’s density list are two other Colorado metro areas: Denver/Aurora/Broomfield (12.76 density) and Boulder (12.53). The top 10 list also includes three metro areas in Florida as well as the Washington, D.C., metro area.
Said Greg Starzynski, director-product management for NPD Foodservice: “Many of the fast-casual chains have been adding units in an otherwise soft restaurant environment. Traditional quick-service restaurants have taken notice and are working to compete with the fast casual chains’ offerings, especially in terms of the freshness and quality of food. All of these efforts will benefit both the consumer and industry.”