Grabbing a quick meal doesn’t just mean fast food anymore. Now there are “fast-casual” options like Chipotle or Panera, restaurants that borrow ideas from both fast food and upscale sit-down restaurants.
The restaurants borrow ideas from both fast food and upscale sit-down restaurants, catering to customers who want food fast, inexpensive and customized. Their success – having grown more quickly than either fast food chains or full service restaurants in recent years – is part demographics and part economics.
Colorado is arguably the cradle of fast-casual. The Denver, Boulder and Fort Collins metro areas boast the highest numbers of fast-casuals per person in the country. The state is home to both industry pioneers like Chipotle and Noodles & Company, and buzzed-about newcomers like the recently renamed Modern Market and Smashburger.
At a shopping center in Glendale, Colorado, Laquardra and Jason Staples are sitting down to lunch. The restaurant is brand new, a sleekly-designed barbecue spot called Carve. The interior is styled with exposed wood beams, chrome metal chairs and stainless steel.