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Mintel Reports Identifies Segment as One of the Restaurant Industry’s Fastest Growing SectorsChicago (August 7, 2006)- With a projected outlook of over $11 billion in sales from leading chains for the year, fast casual dining is serving up strong growth within the restaurant industry. A recent Mintel report estimates that total U.S. systemwide sales of leading fast casual chains doubled in the last five years, and the future continues to look bright for the category. The category has been able to successfully blend the quality of family casual with the convenience of fast food, appealing primarily to adults. ” An increased interest in healthy eating, ethnic cuisine, and premium ingredients largely explains the boom in market growth, ” said Bill Hulkower, analyst for Mintel. ” And what we’ve seen so far is only the beginning. Relative to QSR and full-service, there are still very few fast casual restaurants. As long as they keep updating menus to fit current eating trends, there is substantial room for growth. This category is eating into lunch sales at full-service restaurants, and it’s going to pull some sales from QSR. A lot of people just don’t have enough lunch time for table service, but don’t want to do the QSR drive-thru. ”