Graduation Year

Summer 2012

Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

George Batta

Terms of Use & License Information

Terms of Use for work posted in Scholarship@Claremont.

Rights Information

© 2012 Robert H. Erani


This paper examines the changing nature of the quick-service food industry. From the introduction of the drive-in restaurant to the advent of the fast food industry to the niche market of fast casual dining we focus on the competitive environment that is clearly representative of a growing demand from value conscious consumers. Coupled with the economic growth post World War II, consumer preferences for fast and easy food options fueled the growth of the fast food industry. But not until the 1990's did we see competition for fast food firms from the fast casual niche sparked by changing consumer preferences. Most recently we see a merge between fast casual and fast food firms.

We identify the difference between fast casual and fast food firms through a deep analysis of two of the most successful fast casual firms: Chipotle and Panera. By dissecting their cost structures it is clear where these firms succeed and by means of representation where fast casual firms have been most proficient at selling the new market idea. Then we dive into the areas in which fast food firms have adjusted their business models to attain market share back from fast casual firms. Some fast food firms have been successful while others fall by the wayside. Essentially, changing the identity of fast food to not only cheap and fast but also socially dignified and consumer driven. The firms that have been successful have pressured profit margins of fast casual firms and causing them to fast to meld business identities towards fast food firms. The result is a consolidation of the quick service market that has sparked the emergence of larger corporation as it becomes harder to survive.

Appendix A.docx (178 kB)
Interview with Chipotle Director of Communications Chris Arnold

Chipotle Mexican Grill - financial ratios

SOURCES.docx (152 kB)

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.