The restaurant business in the US remains challenged going into its all-important summer season, but in one segment of the industry, known as fast casual, several groups have outperformed the giant fast-food chains and taken significant business from higher-end restaurants.
Panera Bread and Chipotle Mexican Grill, which together make up more than 25 per cent of the fast-casual segment â€“ which sits between fast food and casual restaurant dining â€“ both posted double-digit percentage increases in first-quarter sales over the same period the previous year, driven by the opening of new outlets and robust increases in same-store sales.
By contrast, US revenues at McDonaldâ€™s suffered in 2009 and, for the first five months of this year, same-store sales are up 3 per cent over the same period a year ago.
Burger King, the other large chain, has struggled, with revenues in the US and Canada down 4 per cent for the first three months of this year. Read more.