Number of Fast-Casual Eateries Now at 25,312

The number of fast-casual restaurants in the United States continues to grow, according to a recent report from The NPD Group.

The number of fast-casual chain restaurants rose by 1 percent to 25,312 total units, based on data from the research firm’s fall 2018 restaurant census, which covers restaurant openings as of Sept. 30, 2018. Meanwhile, customer interest in the segment remains strong. Visits to fast-casual restaurants were up 3 percent in the year ending February 2019, while the overall quick-service restaurant category — which includes fast casual — was up only 1 percent, and total U.S. foodservice traffic remained flat.

The cities with the most fast-casual chain units based on the fall 2018 census were Los Angeles, 2,002 units, up 2 percent; Dallas-Forth Worth, 1,146 units, down 1 percent; New York City, 1,052 units, down 1 percent; Chicago, 956 units, up 2 percent; and Washington D.C., 884 units, up 1 percent. The largest single-city increase was North Platte, Neb., which saw a 100 percent increase in its number of fast-casual restaurants by virtue of going from one unit to two.

Despite its growth, the fast-casual category represents only 8 percent of total quick-service visits.