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What Is a Quick Service Restaurant?

When consumers want fast and affordable meals they can eat on the go, their best bet is a quick service restaurant. But if you’re not familiar with the term, you may wonder, “What is a quick service restaurant (or QSR)?”

Typical dining restaurants don’t cut it for consumers who need good food fast. The time it takes to sit down, order from a menu, wait for a meal to cook, and then wait for the bill is too much for those in a rush. 

The quick service restaurant industry was born from this demand (and even more ancient food carts) in 1921 with the creation of White Castle, and has since grown in popularity across the world. In 2021, there were estimated to be approximately 188,402 quick service restaurantlocations in the United States alone.

These statistics indicate that the quick service restaurant marketis growing. So, what exactly is a quick service restaurant?

Why Energy Efficiency Is a Priority for QSRs

QSRs have a unique business model, one that relies heavily on efficiency and volume to be effective. That’s where partners like Budderfly can help unlock greater value through energy efficiency technologies

It’s why we are working with some of America’s most loved QSRs, such as Subway, Burger King, Dunkin, and O’Charleys.

Keep reading to learn about the QSR business model and how cutting the carbon footprint equates to boosting the bottom line.

What is a Quick Service Restaurant?

The definition of a quick service restaurantis, basically, the more formal term for fast food restaurants. There are many well-known examples, such as Burger King, KFC, Taco Bell, Chick-fil-A, Pizza Hut, and Domino.

Kickstart Your QSR’s Energy Savings With Budderfly

Expand your business—and your energy savings—with our energy-efficient lighting, refrigerators, and HVAC.

Quick service restaurant (QSR) brands have fast, efficient service and a limited menu that stays consistent across locations. Customers always know what they can order from a QSR restaurant no matter where they are, saving them time in their decision-making.

The majority of food ordered from QSR restaurants is taken to go. However, most QSRs do have a dine-in option. Many will also offer food deliveryoptions through an in-house or popular outsourced delivery service.

What’s the Difference between a QSR and Fast Casual Dining?

QSRs and fast casual dining options both focus on providing good food quickly. Although there are many similarities, there are some distinct differences. Some QSRs and fast casuals will be exceptions, but the following differences apply generally.

QSRs Fast Casuals
Generally inexpensive Less expensive than typical dining, but more expensive than a QSR
Lesser focus on dining room atmosphere Expects more dine-in guests than a QSR, so there is more emphasis on interior design
Food is ready almost immediately  Food is prepared quickly, but typically with a 5-10-minute wait time
Limited, pre-set menu options A broader range of menu options and customizable meals
Drive-thrus are common Drive-thrus are rare
Open late hours, some franchises are 24/7 Isn’t usually open as late as a typical QSR

Different Types of QSR

There are 3 different types of QSR: self-service, assisted self-service, and full service. As the names indicate, the most significant difference between the 3 is how they serve their customers. Typically, a QSR restaurant chain will offer the same type of service at every location.

  • At self-service restaurants, the customer retrieves their own food and beverage products and goes to the counter to pay their bill. Buffet-style restaurants are considered self-service.
  • Assisted self-service restaurants combine self-service and staff service. Usually, customers need to place their order and pay for it independently, although a staff member will still provide table service. Many casual sushi restaurants operate with this model.
  • Full-service restaurants follow the typical dining restaurant model. A staff member will take the customer’s order, bring them their food, and give them their bill. Full-service is the most common type of QSR.
    Quick service restaurant management
    Credit: oranfireblade

Why the QSR Industry is Great for Business Owners

The QSR business is a profitable industry. Menu items may be cheaper, but the sheer amount of food sold offsets the lower price.

Polaris Market Research predicts that the quick service food industry will experience an annual growth rate of 4.9% between 2021 and 2030. They suggest that the primary reasons for this growth rate are busier lifestyles and increasing demand for low-cost food.

Increasingly, several fast food chains operate under one parent brand. Many business owners drastically increase their brand’s revenue by adopting this model. 

Between 2020 and 2021, Yum! Brands (the parent company of KFC, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell) saw a revenue increase of 16.49%. Restaurant Brands International (the parent company of Burger King and Popeyes) reported a similar revenue increase of 13.68%.

The Carbon Footprint of a QSR

With QSRs producing so much food, it is unsurprising that they typically use a lot of energy. Cooking, HVAC systems, refrigeration, and delivery services all cost energy. As a result, the average QSR will use 81 kilowatt-hours of electricity and 174,000 BTU of natural gas per square foot every year, a significantly higher level than the average office building.

Is Your Restaurant’s Energy Draining Your Business?

Learn how to save on energy with Budderfly.

Quick service restaurant management plays an important role in offsetting all this energy usage. Employees should be trained in energy-efficiency best practices, such as turning off the lights when they leave a room and ensuring the refrigerator door is closed tight.

Sometimes, employee actions aren’t enough to significantly decrease energy emissions. In this case, installing energy-efficient equipment is the best bet. For example, energy-efficient refrigeration units can lead to a 50% decrease in energy costs. 

Energy-tracking quick service restaurant softwareoptions are also available. Seeing how much energy each piece of equipment uses can help managers determine where more energy reduction tactics are necessary. Gauging energy usage is also a great way to determine if a machine is near the end of its life.

what is a quick service restaurant

Try Budderfly’s Energy-Efficient Quick Service Restaurant System

If you’re looking to improve your QSRs energy performance, Budderfly can help. We’ll install energy-efficient equipment at zero upfront cost.

Our Energy efficiency as a service (EEaaS) Company is full of experts in energy efficiency that understand the QSR business. We’ll make sure your new energy-efficient equipment keeps up with the pace of your QSR. After all, what is a quick service restaurant if it isn’t quick?

Monitor your QSR’s temperature and electricity usage—all with our help. Make informed decisions about where you need to cut back.

Contact us to learn more about running a greener QSR franchise.


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