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    Fast, Casual Dining on the Rise

    Potential opportunities for take-and-eat or heat-and-eat deli meal solutions.
     

    On the heels of the National Restaurant Association’s index showing slower traffic and sales in February, another new report has found that Americans are dining more often at fast-food and casual dining venues, news of particular relevance to deli operators with take-and-eat or heat-and-eat meal solutions.

    In the same month of February, Harris Interactive conducted an online poll in which nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of adults reported eating out at a quick-service restaurant chain over the past month and more than half dined at a casual dining establishment or chain.

    In contrast, only 18 percent of respondents said they had eaten at a local fine-dining restaurant in that same time frame. Moreover, a majority those polled replied that they are eating in fine-dining establishments less frequently than they have in the past.

    Indeed, the economy is still a factor in away-from-home dining preferences. The new Harris research shows that 90 percent of consumers agree that good prices are important in their restaurant choices.

    What’s not important? Going to the same restaurant every time and going to an eatery with a menu that often has new choices. (On the topic of menu choices, the Harris poll also underscores the popularity of stalwart cuisines, with Italian, Mexican and Chinese remaining tops among patrons.)

    As with the National Restaurant Association index, the Harris researchers identified a silver lining in the latest poll: the decline in restaurant visits isn’t as bad as 2012, perhaps suggesting some kind of leveling off.
     

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