WASHINGTON (CIRCA) — Fast food has been upgraded.
A side of fries is no longer just a side of fries: It now comes with scenery, high end technology and luxurious accommodations.
From McDonald’s to Starbucks, fast food has gotten quite fancy.
Starbucks now has a 25,000-square-foot roastery in Milan, Italy, featuring elements only found in luxury bars and restaurants.
It may look like a fancy eatery or a bar, but it’s just another Starbucks — with imported ingredients, brewing and mixology, artisanal food, fashion and culture all part of the experience. The coffee franchise has been upgrading its customer experience to remain competitive.
The fast-food landscape is ever-changing, upgrading not only its spaces but also menu offerings….
Fast-food chain Arby’s deemed itself "fast crafted" in 2016 when the unhealthy connotation of “fast food” seemed to be doing more harm than good for chain restaurants. Several other chains followed suit using terms such as “fast casual,” ‘’fine casual" and even “fan food.”
Scandals like food poisoning, wage debates, consumer desires for healthier options and even the introduction of Shake Shack, self-described as “fine casual”, has led to our favorite fast food spots becoming fancier.
And just like the roots of fast food, it all started with McDonald’s
“We’re trying to explore conveniences for customers, see what they like, and we want to make sure we give them every option possible.” said Carlos Mateos Jr., the owner of a McDonald's in Arlington, Virginia.
In 2018, McDonald’s started the campaign, “McDonald's Experience of the Future." Certain locations feature touch screen ordering kiosks, modern furnishings and one-of-a-kind menu items. The company plans to modernize all of its locations by 2020.
“We want people to order the way they want to order," Mateos said. "We have people who come in and automatically gravitate to the kiosk.”
In China, fast food is a $130 billion business. There, KFC is the fast-food industry’s biggest success story, having twice as many locations as McDonald's in the country.
KFC’s tech-first approach proved to be profitable as it relied on its mobile app for two-thirds of its business and opened new high-tech storefronts. Some even include facial-recognition technology for payment.
From cooler ways to order your food, to more refined palate options, customers are seeking options of higher quality at their local grab-and-go spots, whether it be better grades of meats, comfortable furniture, scenic views or emerging tech. Customers are demanding unique culinary experiences globally, even from fast food.
But interestingly, though Americans are demanding healthier options, they are still eating big portions. Studies have shown that portion sizes have only gotten larger at most fast-food restaurants.
These healthy luxury trends are a far cry from $1 burgers ordered at a drive-thru. The question remains whether the expensive upgrades are sustainable for businesses, but for now, bon appetit.
Starbucks x Uber Eats means you can get that frapp delivered—if you live in these 6 cities
Dad dedication goals: This cook slept behind Sonic during the workweek to provide for his family
Tens of millions of Americans were likely eating 'hamberders' the same day Clemson did at the White House