Restaurant sector: Fast casual chains a growing force

|By:, SA News Editor

The fast casual segment of the restaurant industry continues to create turmoil for the casual dining portion as improved quality and nimble service proves hard for consumers to ignore.

A smashing 13% gain in comp sales by Chipotle (CMG -4.2%) in Q1 demonstrates the ability of the fast-casual superstars (NDLS, PNRA) to continue to carve out market share even as the retail sector shows slow growth.

Restaurants analyst think the issue might run deeper than just a consumer unimpressed by an oversupply of undifferentiated dine-in brands. Regional chains and independent concepts have a significant culinary innovation advantage that could prove difficult for the larger casual dining chains to overcome.

Casual dining stocks: CAKE, RRGB, IRG, DIN, DENN, EAT, CBRL, BWLD, FRS, RT, BOBE, BDL.