Casual Faster™

Casual Faster™

Casual Faster is a concept created by the experts at ZenMango which breaks the paradigm between “Fast Casual” and “Casual Dining” restaurants. The term Fast Casual can be confusing, it refers to a restaurant that is in between Fast Food and Casual Dining but where that line is drawn is not always clear. At it’s core the definition is:

  • “Fast” comes from the speed expectation of fast food.
  • “Casual” comes from the food offering of casual, where the food is cooked/made for you after you order; and you have control on adding and deleting components of the meal.

Other characteristics of a “Fast Casual” brand may be:

  • Does not offer full table service
  • Higher quality ingredients than Fast Food
  • Priced higher than Fast Food, but lower than Casual Dining
  • Meals served on real plates and silverware
  • May provide the option of alcohol such as beer and wine

But there is a lot of gray area on what type of restaurant can be considered Fast Casual. Take the following two examples:

  • Chipotle: One of the first national Fast Casual restaurants that gained popularity. But does it fulfill the Casual food faster concept? The food is not cooked for you after you order, it is prepared/put together using an ordering system similar to Subway where you choose what you want on it. The menu has the familiarity of Taco Bell, but higher quality. Once you are done paying, you receive the food you ordered. You see the ingredients but not the final food, it is hidden in foil. It is Fast but can you call it Casual?
  • Noodles & Company: Menu items are closer to what you would see on a casual dining restaurant menu. Once you order, the items are cooked/made for you, to your specifications. You pay and then sit-down, and the food is bought to your table on plates and silverware. This concept offers Casual food and is Fast.

This is why ZenMango coined the term “Casual Faster” to clearly define restaurants that offer “Casual” food (food cooked/made for you after you order) “Faster” (6 to 8 minutes).  The following table summarizes these examples:






Fast Food Under 2 minutes Different price points under $5 What can be offered with these constraints.
Subway Under 2 minutes $5 You see and choose what you want in your food Positioned as better than QSR offering, without any offering under $5
Chipotle Under 2 minutes $7 Better food, demonstrably better You see the ingredients but not the final food.. it is hidden in a foil.
Familiarity of Taco Bell menu, Subway ordering system but better food.
Others in Fast Casual 6 to 8 minutes
Wait at the table after you order/pay
$7 – $9 Better food, demonstrably better Whereas Chipotle is Fast Casual, the rest is more casual food offered faster. Could a customer do better by visiting a Casual Dining restaurant?
QSR+ Under 2 minutes QSR Pricing A few menu items upgraded to be better than QSR. Focus more on ingredients and not recipes. The balance

Casual Faster™ Products

ZenMango offers provides the following reports available for purchase. Each report is custom developed to include brands you specify, and are compared to the industry overall and the following categories: Fast Food, Fast Casual, Casual Dining, and Fine Dining.

Product 1: Casual Faster Leaky Bucket Report

The Leaky Bucket® study is an annual study among restaurant brands. The online study measures the size of a customer “leak” for each brand included in the study, meaning the percentage of recent customers who report they are unlikely to return to a particular eatery. Knowing the leak size for a brand doesn’t make it actionable, a brand needs to know what are the areas causing the leak so they can begin acting on what areas to prioritize and fix. It is also important to understand where a brand stands compared to the industry, each category within the restaurant industry, and their key competition. For example, if a Casual Faster brand’s leak is considerably larger than the Casual Faster category it may show big opportunities on where the brand can improve, likewise if it is considerably smaller it may help the brand to identify it’s competitive edge. Brands may purchase the annual Leaky Bucket report or choose to conduct a custom Leaky Bucket study for their brand. Please contact us for more information.

Product 2: Casual Faster Food Actually Report

ZenMango’s Food Actually® 2016 study was conducted online among a nationally representative sample of 1000 national respondents aged 18-64, household income of $20K and above.  The sample is balanced by gender and representative of the national distribution of age, income, and geographic location.

The study digs deep into what eaters must know and addresses the following areas:

  • What specifically eaters must know about their food beyond nutritional/calorie information
  • How millennials are reacting and what they need to know
  • How the information need varies by restaurant category and occasions
  • What eaters expect from brands in providing information about the food
  • The effectiveness of industry buzz words and what they really mean to eaters
  • How assured eaters are about the food they eat away from home
  • The reward for a brand to increase food assurance

Not only does the report give you an overall picture of what consumers want in food transparency from brands, but each brand is evaluated on their Food Actually perception. This is compared to the industry overall, and by Fast Food/QSR, Fast Casual, Casual Faster, Casual Dining, and Fine Dining. Please contact us for more information or to order your report.

Casual Faster™ Services

Casual Faster Consulting

Need help with your restaurant brand? ZenMango’s consulting service looks at understanding your current state of business in the mind of the customer. Let us help you position your restaurant as the next big “Casual Faster” brand. We can assist your brand in the following areas:

  • Understanding the customer perception of your brand and key competition in the Casual Faster category
  • Identifying the guest experience elements of your brand and key competition in the Casual Faster category
  • Brand positioning direction and validation
  • Brand strategy and implementation of the strategy
  • Identifying Key Performance Indicators and measuring success

Please contact us to learn more.

About ZenMango

ZenMango, the experts and inventors of “Casual Faster”, is a marketing and advertising consultancy company headquartered in Denver, CO. Founder and President Arjun Sen, has had a prestigious corporate marketing career, holding senior executive positions in several Fortune 500 companies. He has 20 years of experience in marketing, branding, consumer research, strategic planning and operations at restaurant and retail companies including Jillian’s Entertainment and Papa John’s International Worldwide. ZenMango works with a variety of restaurant groups, non-profits, sports personalities, and other guest experience driven industries.