restaurant business plan

Healthy Fast Food will be the Next Starbucks

I’ve worked in the restaurant business for a long time, but you don’t need any special skills to see this coming. Sometimes all the inside information you need can be found walking around the mall and seeing what your friends and neighbors are doing.

You can get an inkling of it the trend by reading the story about the successful Pinkberry yogurt shop concept. They are getting press attention for long lines and addicted customers, and even with some bad press recently about the ingredients in their “yogurt”, they have managed to grow to 20 locations in an amazingly short time frame.

People want to eat healthy food. They really do. No one wants to be fat, with all the problems that go with it, not the least of which is the social stigma. But they also want food that tastes really good, doesn’t cost that much more, and is just as easy to get as fast food.

If only there was a place next to McDonalds where I could get a very tasty meal that I knew was healthy- I’d be there in a second. I’d even pay $6 or $7. So would everyone else. How do I know? Because, as has often been said, people buy on emotion and then justify with logic.

Well, this fits perfectly. I pay more to avoid the guilt (emotion) and I can justify the expense since it is for my health (logic). And so would everyone else. Or, at least enough of the population that you would make Starbuck’s growth look sluggish by comparison.

But this is only going to work if you offer really good food. I don’t mean salads. And I don’t mean veggie burgers. Well, it could be a veggie burger, but you better dress it up and call it something else, or people aren’t going to come in. People want to eat healthy, but not at the expense of flavor. They also aren’t going to try things they already have a preconceived notion of as being “yucky health food” like veggie burgers.

It has to be food you can eat in a car, eat with your hands, and preferably a menu that can cover breakfast lunch and dinner. If you want it to have really huge success you need to perfectly blend the idea of “slightly upscale” with “appeals to everyone” that Starbucks has going.

Right now, aspiring restaurant entrepreneurs everywhere should be scouring cookbooks and recipe websites trying to figure out the perfect blend of menu items that will satisfy the tastes great, healthy, and cheap enough to make at a fast food price point trifecta of requirements this concept needs and then launch a nice starter store. They will know right away if they got it right, because there will be a line out the door and cars fifteen deep in the drive through (yes, you must have a drive through- no exceptions).

Notice I said to call the new place McTastys, not McHealthys. What you want to do is only point out the health benefits after they’ve tried the food and love the taste. Then you quietly mention it is also good for them. Now you’ve got a winner.

Will you be the one who gets it right first?

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