Fast Casual Restaurants

Overview: Fast Casual restaurants came on the scene in the mid 1990’s and mainstreamed into popularity around 2008-2010. The difference in Fast Food to Fast Casuals-Fast Casuals do not offer full-table service like Olive Garden or Applebee’s. The service is limited to self-service fair and “most” do not have a Drive-Thru.

The Fast Casuals promise fresh made-to-order food with more complex flavors, that are higher quality foods, with less frozen and processed ingredients. The typical full meal for Fast Casuals can range from $8 to $15. The unique decor of Fast Casuals, described as more “upscale” is a step-up from Fast Food dining.

Some Fast Casuals are fast becoming well known. Due to ICA constraints, we won’t name them here, but will refer to them as “Hot Mexican Chip Store,” then “Red Barn Chicken Shop” another well known one, “Upscale Bread Shop” and the ever famous “Cinco Senor’s” included also in the list, “Mexico Fresh Shop” and higher priced “Double Cheeseburger Shop” but not forgetting the “Salsa-Bar Southwest Shop” and including of course, “Fuddy Duddy Shops” and two well known “Famous Deli Shops.”

Project Variations: Most of your Fast Casual restaurants require you to be observant of timings, staff uniforms, name tags, cleanliness of food line, how quickly they interacted with you and and if all the staff were wearing the required uniforms, greetings, nametags (except Sinco Senor’s) also, flow of the staff, courteous associates and final result of the food product.

Visting and Reporting requirements. Speed is important in timings, especially for most Fast Casuals. Timing to the second is critical with most.

For the “Red Barn Chicken Stop” you are timing the line wait, the food and not only the cashier, but the food presenter, both their names and descriptions, as well as the manager on the floor, what he was wearing, his name, what he was doing on the floor or in the kitchen. And if he visited your table?

Doing the “Upscale Bread Shop” is the same with timing but you are timing two things at breakfast, your hot drink and your breakfast sandwich, you are observing all the coffee urns and the last hour the coffee was brewed, how many soufflee’s you saw on the round warming plate, what the manager was doing, what he wore, color of his name tag (gold) and did he interact with you? For lunch, same timings, same premise, ordering off the “You Pick One+One” lunch menu and were you offered a dessert item for 99 cents? Employees asking you for your “Upscale Bread Card” is very important to this client.

The “Mexico Fresh Shop” has many observations, such as the current window POP, # of registers with current POP, window and wall signage, observing the salsa bar, drink bar, restroom, dining room and the friendliness of the staff, in addition to the timings of food.

The “Salsa-Bar Southwest Shop”hearing the employees shouting, “Welcome to our store!” strikes music to the client’s ears. Did they say welcome to our store and say it with meaning? How many cooks are behind the line? Did they upsell you to “Make me a Meal?” Did the ingredients look fresh on the cook’s prep line? At this shop, you are reporting on different timings, time you entered line, time you ordered and time you received your food. You now must observe how many customers are in the dining room, observe the salsa bar, observe the food line, the sneeze guards for cleanliness and 2 pictures must be taken of the salsa bar and the trash can. (It used to be the restroom and the salsa bar)

What others have to say: There are many great posts about the “Hot Mexican Chips Store” and they seem to have a training course you must take. Shoppers can chime in about the reimbursements for this shop. as I am not sure what they cover in reimbursements. Shoppers seem to like “Cinco Senor’s” a little better, now that they have upped their reimbursements to $12. I do well on $10. Some areas you might need $11 or $12 to be fairly compensated. The “Upscale Bread Shop” seems to be a winner with most shoppers and they often comment how much they love their food and free wi-fi!

Estimated Pay: “Cinco Senor’s” recently upped their reimbursement to $12. Shoppers are happier about that. You should be able to have a fine lunch for under $12. I get the small burger, small fry and regular drink and can stay at $10.

“Red Barn Chicken Stop” sadly, no longer works with my MSC but hopefully that will change someday because I absolutely loved their House “Salad.” This consisted of fresh greens, cucumbers, tomatoes, grated cheddar cheese and a gorgeous grilled chicken breast on top. This reimbursement was for around $10. Your salad and your drink came to near $9 and it was the most delicious salad I ever ate. You had a choice of the healthy House Salad or the Fried Plate ” Chicken Wings and Stuff.” I ordered that just once! (too fried for me)

The “Upscale Bread Shop” offered $6-8 reimbursement, as I remember, and your food just met the pay reimbursement line. I always ordered the cheapest breakfast sandwich (under $4) and the cappuccino (under $4) so I was able to enjoy my breakfast without sweating too much of a financial loss. I believe lunch was close to the same. You ordered “You Pick One+One” with a drink and it came at near $7.

I have not shopped the rest of the Fast Casuals so I can’t comment on their reimbursement policies but I can tell you the “Double Cheeseburger Place” came to an astonishing $15.00 for lunch! I got the smallest burger, fry and a small shake and it was the most I have ever paid for lunch. (“Cinco Senor’s” was a grand total of $14 w/ the milkshake).

“Fuddy Duddy’s” came in at under $10 as I recall for a small burger and drink. Two very famous “Deli Places” seem to have an average sandwich price of $7.00-8.00 (not including drink) with much higher pricing, depending what you ordered. I find their sandwiches a bit expensive but there are choices as to how much you want to spend.

Mystery Shopping Companies: Some of the largest mystery shopping companies have assignments for these great Fast Casual restaurants. The best idea, is to sign up for every company you can and you will find many of the above-mentioned restaurants are with those clients. Here’s a good place to start.

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