Fast food is making a push to get healthier — and also more upscale. Fast food joints like McDonald’s and Burger King have already added some healthier options to their menus, while national chains like Panera are gaining market share as the population leans toward healthier food choices.
Panera has been swift to accommodate to changing consumer trends and demands. The café-style chain offers healthy, organic, gluten-free options comprised of deli-type sandwiches, soups, salads and, more recently, pasta dishes. It has eliminated artificial ingredients and sweeteners in its meals.
After its rise in popularity, Panera experienced a new problem: Long lines. In response, the company invested in technology that includes in-store kiosks where consumers can place their order and pay without standing in line. You can even grab a booth and order from your own laptop or tablet. Many of the newer, stand-alone buildings also have a drive-through. The company is also investing to expand its catering presence.
There are currently more than 200,000 fast food restaurants in the U.S., which generated a combined $200 billion in revenue in 2015. The industry employs more than 4 million people, and restaurant franchises added 200,000 jobs last year.