Fast-casual restaurants are on a roll, with Slotted Spoon joining the lineup

Categories: Review Preview

slottedspoon-029.jpg
Mark Manger
Slotted Spoon gets the meatball rolling.
There's a land rush under way in the fast-casual industry, with restaurateurs nationwide frantically trying to grab a piece of this fast-growing segment. Just how fast is it growing? According to Technomic, eight of the ten fastest-growing chains in America (with sales of at least $2 million) are of the order-at-the-counter, wait-a-minute-while-your-food-is-made-fresh variety.

"Fast-casual growth continues to outpace that of quick and full service," the Technomic website reports. "Though it's still a small, emerging segment (comprising six percent of the restaurant industry) its influence is great. With origins in once-innovative concepts such as Fuddruckers and Koo Koo Roo and the 'home meal replacement' trend -- as well as prime development seen in chains like Chipotle Mexican Grill, Panera Bread and Five Guys Burgers and Fries -- the fast-casual sector has evolved and expanded. The old terminology 'adult fast food' is no longer an adequate definition."

See also:
- First look: The Slotted Spoon Meatball Eatery opens
- Denver's five best homegrown, fast-casual chains -- from Noodles to Chipotle

- Is there room for Korean food in the growing fast-casual sector?

Burritos, salads, noodles, burgers and even Korean restaurants have already staked a claim here in Colorado. Now Alex Comisar, Johnny Coast and chef Jensen Cummings have joined the frenzy with a new (for Denver, at least) concept: meatballs.

Find out what kind of territory they've carved out with their hand-rolled pork, beef, chicken, salmon and veggie balls when my review of Slotted Spoon Meatball Eatery is posted here tomorrow.

And in the meantime, if you were starting a new fast-casual restaurant, what would your concept be?




Location Info

Slotted Spoon Meatball Eatery

2730 S. Colorado Blvd., Denver, CO

Category: Restaurant

My Voice Nation Help
13 comments
davebarnes
davebarnes topcommenter

Indian.

Indian food has taken over the UK. I still haven't figured out why it has not succeeded here.

bondadprevalece
bondadprevalece

My favs are Tocabe and Udi's Bread Cafe for Denver, and Cuba Cuba Sandwicheria and Native Foods Cafe for Boulder.

Mantonat
Mantonat topcommenter

@davebarnes Lack of Indians.That and Imperialism.

bondadprevalece
bondadprevalece

@davebarnes The prevalence of fast-casual Indian is pretty much the only thing the Boulder food scene has over the Denver food scene. Try Curry n Kebob or Tiffin's if you're in the area.

davebarnes
davebarnes topcommenter

@Mantonat  

We can solve that easily. Allow 10M Indians to immigrate to the USA in the next 2 years.

Open borders.

davebarnes
davebarnes topcommenter

@bondadprevalece

The prices are too high. Way more than: Tokyo Joes, Chipotle, Pei Wei, Garbanzo, Smash Burger.

While the food might be great and worth the money, it does not matter as you cannot create a national QSR chain at those prices.

Mantonat
Mantonat topcommenter

@davebarnes @Mantonat Last thing I had there was an unfortunate plate of "sushi" for $9.50. My taste buds are boycotting my decision-making skills until further notice.

davebarnes
davebarnes topcommenter

@Mantonat

I like Tokyo Joe's. But, I always order the same item every time: Joe's Special with noodles. I have literally never ordered anything else. It has what I want: chicken dark meat, noodles, sauce.

It is the cheapest deal on the menu. Lunch for $6.16 inc tax. Not $10.

And, yes, I know that Tokyo Joe's is not Japanese.

Mantonat
Mantonat topcommenter

@davebarnes @bondadprevalece Tokyo Joe's is really pretty depressing. Otherwise, it seems like most of the places mentioned in this thread fall into the approximately $10/lunch price range, give or take a buck.

bondadprevalece
bondadprevalece

@davebarnes @bondadprevalece Hm, I wasn't really considering just chains as "fast-casual." I think the best option for Indian at cheap prices is street-style food. Also, places like Native Foods Cafe, Modmarket, and Panera Bread are all relatively expensive yet successful in their niches.

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