It’s a rare occurrence that fine dining and fast food are mentioned in the same sentence. There isn’t much that the two share. One is offered via a drive-through, made as quickly as possible by people who aren’t trained cooks, it’s cheap and it’s usually a last-minute option for hungry people on the go.
But recently, fast food has been changing. Perhaps evolving is the right word. The dining experience usually associated with cheap, nonnutritious food is getting a makeover, and it’s not the one I wrote about in this blog post.
In response to the emergence and huge surge in popularity of places like Chipotle–fast casual restaurants–many fast food establishments are introducing faux-upscale menus to compete. Taco Bell introduced its Cantina Bell menu, chef inspired entrees that use higher-quality ingredients to push a more “cultured” view of the restaurant. In the name of innovation, Taco Bell is gearing it’s menu to try to capture parts of the market that would normally flock to the likes of other, less “casual” eateries.
And Taco Bell certainly isn’t the only fast-food restaurant attempting to make the shift. McDonalds has been slowly transitioning its establishments all over the world into “McCafes,” which serve fancier coffees and give off an air of Starbucks culture to the building.
Recently, the Golden Arches have also been experimenting with some menu transitions that would, in an ideal world, help drive them into the world of nice food on a similarly nice budget. Recently, the chain has been experimenting with a Pesto Mozzarella Melt. In similar vein, Wendy’s has been experimenting with the addition of truffle to its menu with truffle bacon cheeseburgers and truffle fries.
The issue with these two menu additions might not be in terms of taste, style or speed, it could be in the clientele. Those swinging through the drive through of a McDonalds or Wendys at midnight are often not seeking delicious truffle cheeseburgers, they’re seeking a $1 McDouble that will satisfy them until they get home.
In all, fast-food is going to remain fast food. Places like McDonalds, Burger King, Wendys, Taco Bell and Arby’s have built a reputation over their existence. They’re the kings of fast-food for a reason–that’s what they branded themselves as. They’re fast, they’re affordable, they’re on-the-go, and they’re everywhere. To begin to try to separate your business from those traits while maintaining the same brand is a difficult move, and one that may or may not prove to be successful. It is safe to say, however, that places like Daniel’s likely don’t have to worry too much about McDonalds stealing their customers.