There Are More Restaurant Choices Than Ever Before

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You have many choices these days when it comes to what to eat and where to eat. It used to be that most restaurants served a few dishes, such as steak or chicken. Now there are Chinese restaurants, Latin restaurants and a whole slew of restaurants dedicated to other types of ethnic cuisine. Many full-service restaurants also offer catering services.

The big explosion in growth in the restaurant industry has come largely from what are called fast-casual restaurants. These restaurants advertise themselves as being something in between fast food and full-service. In most cases at fast-casual restaurants, you order at the counter, like you do at a fast-food restaurant, but it takes a few minutes to get your food. If you are dining in, you usually go sit at your table, and an employee will either bring you your food or you will go get it when it is done.

Fast-casual chains have pretty much changed the scope of where to eat in South Beach, New York City or in the rural Midwest. They are becoming ubiquitous. People in the U.S. spent $683 billion on food and drink in 2014, and that number is predicted to keep growing at a healthy clip. In Florida alone, there were more than 39,000 places to eat or drink in 2014, and the food and beverage industry accounted for nearly 1 million jobs.

One of the most popular categories of fast-casual restaurants is those that specialize in chicken. Chick-fil-A, which specializes in chicken sandwiches, is the No. 1 fast-casual chain in terms of revenue per location. The category is growing rapidly, with a new chain specializing in chicken seeming to pop up every week. It really should be no surprise, though, considering Americans ate about 90 pounds of chicken on average in 2015.

Another category that is popular is fast-food or fast-casual restaurants that offer healthy fare. Although Subway remains king of the sandwich category, there are a number of new challengers that pop up every year. Other chains that offer healthy fare that do well are Panera, Chipotle and Qdoba.

When it comes to where to eat, you clearly have more choices that ever before, both in type of restaurant and type of cuisine. And those choices are likely to keep increasing, not only for people in the U.S., but around the world.

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