GMO-free and chef-driven concepts top of mind for fast-casual diners

What type of fast-casual restaurant is a consumer more likely to choose: a concept with a GMO-free menu or one that offers organic choices?

Fortunately for concepts touting menus without GMOs, GMO-free may have a slight edge, according to a recent Zagat survey. Nineteen percent of respondents said it’s very important to them that a fast-casual spot be GMO-free, while 14 percent said that organic options were very important when dining fast casual. 

The consumer spotlight may shift even further toward GMO-free, as after becoming the first national chain to go GMO-free earlier this year, Chipotle was this week sued over allegations that the chain’s GMO-free claims are misleading to consumers. 

Made-to-order meals take priority for fast-casual diners as well, according to the Zagat survey, with 54 percent of respondents saying that aspect was very important to them.

In addition, the diners surveyed really got behind chef-driven fast casuals like David Chang’s fuku, Jose Andres’ Beefsteak and Rick Bayless’ Tortas Frontera. Sixty-five percent of Zagat respondents said they would be more likely to go to a fast-casual concept that is gourmet or chef-driven, and 78 percent said they’d like to see more fast-casual spots opened by prominent chefs.

Other findings of note include how often diners eat at fast casuals. A majority of participants (37 percent) said they dine at fast-casual concepts a few times a month, with 60 percent opting for fast-casual spots for lunch, 38 percent for dinner and 2 percent for breakfast.

Travel guide Zagat surveyed more than 6,670 diners for its first survey on fast-casual chains. 

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