February 27, 2002
Coming to a neighborhood near you

Wendy's International has bought a 45% interest in Houston restaurant chain Cafe Express. Cafe Express is a "fast-casual" restaurant. Watch that phrase, I think you'll be hearing it again.

Cafe Express is Wendy's first investment in the fast-casual restaurant business. The term "fast-casual" refers to a growing market in the industry, combining the casual dining of a restaurant like Chili's or Friday's with the self-service, walk-up concept.

Robert Del Grande, president of Cafe Express, said he was told by Wendy's CEO Jack Schuessler that the fast-casual market is "just beginning. It's teeny now, but it's going to be huge, and he expects it to grow exponentially."

I'm actually surprised that there isn't more of this already. I don't know if Houston is a trendsetter here, but we also have Eatzi's for high-end takeout, and the Amazon Grill, a single-location competitor to Cafe Express in the "fast-casual" market. Good food, low prices, quick service - hey, Virginia Postrel, is this The Future or what?

Posted by Charles Kuffner on February 27, 2002 to Food, glorious food | TrackBack