Listen to this radio programme where casual food is being discussed.
Listen to the first part of the report and find out what fast casual food is.
McDonald's is probably the best-known fast food restaurant in the world. Listen to the second part of the report and answer these questions about McDonald’s.
1 What is McDonald’s slogan?
2 How much did McDonald's net income drop by in the last quarter of 2014: $50, $150 or $300 million?
3 For how many months in a row had McDonald's worldwide sales dropped in January 2015?
4 In January 2015, where did McDonald's run a big advertisement to try to get customers back?
Listen to the third part of the report and circle the correct options in these statements:
1 On its first day of trading, Shake Shack shares went from $21 to just under $26 / 36 / 46.
2 Ted Mistretta describes Shake Shack’s hamburger as a tasty / quality / juicy hamburger.
3 Mr. Mistretta says he rarely / never / sometimes goes to fast food restaurants.
4 Bonnie Riggs says one reason Americans like fast casual food is because it’s fresh / cheap / new.
Listen to the fourth and final part of the report and answer the questions.
1 How many visits to restaurants did Americans make last year?
2 How many visits were to fast food restaurants like McDonald’s?
3 How big is the percentage of visits to fast casual restaurants?
4 Who are Millennials?
5 Where do Millennials like to eat?
6 What are some of the new eating trends?
“Plain Cheeseburger. Give me two of them."
That is Ted Mistretta ordering food in Washington D.C. before boarding a train with his daughter Kim. They were heading home to New York City. But, first they stopped at the Shake Shack restaurant to get a bite to eat.
“Any fries? Anything to drink? Are you dining in or to go? Go.”
Shake Shack is a new kind of restaurant becoming more popular in the U.S. The restaurants are not “fast food.” They are known as “fast casual.”
Observers say Americans want more choices and fresh food when choosing where and what to eat. This trend is one reason why the fast food restaurant McDonald’s has struggled financially.
McDonald’s is one of the best-known restaurants in the U.S. and even around the world. Their ads say “I’m lovin’ it.” But these days the company leaders are seeing numbers they probably do not like.
In the last quarter of 2014, McDonald's net income dropped by about $300 million. The January earnings report brought more bad news. Worldwide sales dropped for the eighth month in a row and even more than expected.
McDonald’s is working hard to get their customers back. In January, the company ran an advertisement during the Super Bowl. The football game is the most watched TV event every year in the U.S. McDonald's wanted to reach those viewers.
While McDonald's is struggling to get their customers back, Shake Shack, is doing well financially. The New York-based burger chain had a very successful IPO, or initial public offering, of shares at the end of January. On its first day of trading, Shake Shack went from $21 a share to just under $46 a share.
Ted Mistretta wishes he had bought the stock that day. He explains why he likes Shake Shack:
“It’s a quality hamburger. It’s you know, they make it well, great taste. It’s better than most. It’s certainly better than, it’s fast food, but not ‘fast food’ food.”
And, Mr. Mistretta added, he never goes to fast food restaurants.
Being part of the “fast casual” trend has helped Shake Shack. Other fast casual restaurants in the U.S. include Chipotle, and Panera.
Bonnie Riggs is a restaurant expert with NPD. She has followed Americans’ restaurant habits for almost 30 years. She says one reason Americans like fast casual food is because it’s new.
“They are creative, they are innovative, there is something different and we like to try new things.”
Ms. Riggs says Americans made 61 billion visits to restaurants last year. Three out of four visits were to fast food restaurants, like McDonald’s. “They’re holding on,” she says, but traffic has stayed at the same level. Fast casual is still a small percentage of restaurant visits. She says it’s “growing by leaps and bounds,” because they meet consumers’ needs.
“They know it’s being prepared while they wait, it’s fresh, fresh ingredients, quality food, good tasting food at what they say are reasonable and affordable prices.”
Many Americans still like their fast food, Ms. Riggs says, they’re just not going as often. And, she says, Americans are finding other ways to have a meal.
Some people buy prepared foods at stores and take them home to eat. Others like to cook at home, especially the millennials. Millennials are people born between 1981 and 2000 and this year they are expected to become the largest group of Americans.
Ms. Riggs says that half of this generation is cooking at home, and loving it. Some of the new eating trends include farm-to-table restaurants and gluten-free food.