What you need to know

Black consumers enjoy dining out, not only as a leisure activity but because many of them lead very busy lives and dining out saves time and in some instances money. Fast casual dining can be a healthier alternative to dining out than eating at a quick-service restaurant. There are more options for consumers to choose from than there ever has been, and while many Blacks tend to stick to national chain restaurants, many prefer dining at local independent fast casual restaurants because of the proximity to where they live, and the perception that these restaurants may provide more authentic food they prefer at home.


This report covers expenditures by Black consumers for food and drink at full-service restaurants and limited-service eating places as defined below:

  • Full-service restaurants are establishments with waiter/waitress service, in which customers order and are served while seated. They may also sell alcoholic beverages and offer carryout services.

  • Limited-service eating places include quick service/fast food restaurants and fast casual dining establishments (food services where customers usually select and order items and pay before dining) and snack and non-alcoholic beverage bars, such as coffee or juice bars, donut shops, and ice cream shops. Cafeterias (other than school or employer) and buffets are also included in this category.

Fast casual restaurants are positioned between limited-service fast food restaurants and full-service casual dining restaurants. There is no precise definition that fits all restaurants in the segment, but the following characteristics help to distinguish fast casual from other types of limited-service restaurants.

  • Absence of table service, although some may deliver orders to the table after customers place their order at a counter and seat themselves.

  • Décor that is of higher quality and creates a more upscale ambience than that typically found in fast food restaurants.

  • Coherent menu themes.

  • Focus on freshness, with products made to order with no or minimal use of frozen or canned foods/ingredients or microwaved foods.

  • Focus on health and natural/organic foods; may avoid use of preservatives, MSG, and other chemicals and may source animal products that are antibiotic-free, vegetarian fed, and free range.

  • Focus on consumer choice, sometimes provided through an extensive selection of condiments.

  • The check size is between $6 and $9.

Findings in this report builds on Mintel’s Black Consumers and Dining Out – US, January 2015 and can be supplemented by analysis presented in Mintel’s Fast Casual Dining – US, February 2016, Dining Out: A 2016 Look Ahead – US, January 2016, and Hispanics and Fast Casual Dining – US, February 2016.

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