Chew on this: One percenters want fancier fast food


Everyone wants a “fast food” option, but the rich are loath to frequent traditional fast food chains known for greasy food with less-than-luxe environments. Quite the conundrum for the one-percenter who wants a quick and casual meal, but still needs to separate themselves from the commoners.

To prevent the cash-laden from getting hangry, quick-service restaurants are upping their fast food game. 

Enter “upscale fast casuals” which is sadly not the name of a new band, but rather, the term used for eateries that serve top-quality food, quickly, in a luxe environment. Think: loft spaces, drinks served in mason jars, exposed bricks, the word “artisanal” bandied about liberally on the menu and locally-sourced everything.

Daniel Boulud (Credit: Studio Scrivo)
Daniel Boulud (Credit: Studio Scrivo)

Forbes details some of these emerging eatery types in California such as Fritzi in Los Angeles, a chic warehouse-style space, which serves dishes typically found in a casual-dining restaurant like steak frites and Santa Barbara whitefish. Also newly on the “upscale fast casual” scene is San Fran’s Homage, offering farm-fresh fare, and chains like Tender Greens offering salads crafted from produce from local farms. Spitz, serves sangria and seasonal cocktails in funky settings in outposts in California, Salt Lake City and will soon enter the Minneapolis market. Also in the midwest resides James Beard award-winning chef Gerard Craft’s Porano Pasta in St. Louis and Nando’s in St. Louis which claims to hold the largest collection of South African art in the world. (Take that, Mickey D’s!)

Likewise, well-known Cracker Barrel now has a fast-casual offshoot called Holler & Dash for that upscale breakfast experience for which the affluent long. “The brand is more ‘rustic-chic’ than ‘down-home'”. And if you had any doubt that it’s mad fancy, their menu lists home-made biscuits made with “goat cheese and kale.” Because there’s simply nothing green rich folks like more than kale (except money, of course.)

All this faux-authenticity makes us long for the days of white tablecloths. Luckily, Daniel Boulud, the king of fine-dining. is defending his truly upscale craft.

“We don’t need to follow every trend and be what a critic wants us to be,” Boulud told LLNYC in our latest cover story. Read the full interview here.