5 Fast Casual Burger Chains That May Take Over The World
The burger is one of those American foods that will never go away. There have been books written and movies filmed about the subject. In some restaurants, burgers have reached such cult status that it would simply be impossible for there to be any more hype about them.
One broad shift has been rocking the ground meat world for years: the explosion of fast casual chains. While McDonald's, Burger King and other fast food chains are constantly innovating and attempting to come up with more "premium" items, they are also struggling to lure people that have chosen fast casual over fast food. One difference? Burgers made to order.
While fast casual chains aren't exactly new to the industry, there are several that are poised for pretty large expansion, both at home and abroad. Here are five fast casual burger chains that may take over the world:
Smashburger is on fire. It is expanding at a high clip, opening international ventures, and is even preparing to take on In-N-Out. The chain currently has locations in 27 states, so if it hasn't invaded your state yet, it might only be a matter of time.
The patty is smashed, seared and seasoned to order, so it may take you slightly longer to get your order than at a fast food restaurant, but we'd argue that those few extra minutes are well worth the wait.
Fatburger is one chain that sees dollar signs abroad. By the end of 2012, nearly half all Fatburger's 150 locations will be international units -- in Canada, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Iraq, Korea, Indonesia, China and Macau. There are another 225 in development.
Umami Burger isn't expanding nearly as fast as Smashburger or Fatburger -- it only has about 15 locations, most of which are in Southern California. Regardless it is definitely a chain to watch. Umami Burger has achieved serious cult status in California and is making the big jump to the East Coast this March. If it can convert East Coast burger lovers as well, it may be unstoppable.
Not too long ago (2004 to be exact), Shake Shack was just a lonely hamburger stand in New York's Madison Square Park. Then it expanded to other locations in New York. Then it went to DC, Philadelphia, Miami, Connecticut. Then, Shake Shack traveled even farther, and expanded to Dubai, Kuwait City, Doha and Abu Dhabi. Still reaching, the chain has plans for Boston and London this year. Will this chain ever be stopped?
Giraffas is a Brazilian restaurant chain that has opened a few branches in Miami, with more locations to Florida. If all goes according to plan, D.C. might be next on the list. Giraffas makes its burgers by using a Brazilian cut of beef called picanha -- the cap of beef rump steak.
In Brazil, Giraffas is a fast food chain, but when Giraffas opened in the U.S., it opted for a fast casual model in order to distinguish itself.