American fast-food chain Chick-fil-A is now offering its patrons free behind-the-scenes kitchen tours at any one of its 1,700 US restaurants. Intended to showcase the brand's healthy meal options and spotless premises, this is a first for a national chain.
To arrange a tour, visitors can contact any of the chain's freestanding locations, or simply turn up and request access. If possible, they will be given a tour of the kitchen by a Chick-fil-A staff member.
Other new initiatives that have been introduced include adding calorie allocations to menu boards and overhauling the salad and wrap menu. The new salad range includes the Grilled Market, Asian and Cobb salads, which all contain less than 430 calories and feature premium ingredients like blue cheese, blueberries and almonds.
"Our new salads have completely different flavour profiles – tastes that are not commonly found in fast food," said David Farmer, vice-president of product strategy. "In terms of quality, they rival entrée salads you would expect to be served at full-service restaurants."
Fast-food brands are upgrading their offerings to compete within the rapidly developing fast-casual restaurant sector – the fastest-growing US restaurant segment, according to Chicago-based food consultancy Technomic. Offering customisable, healthy and premium ingredients is one way that brands can tap into this market. For future directions in fast-casual dining, see Future Fast Food, James Markham: Fast Casual Pizza Pioneer and Adam Fleischman: King of Umami.
Initiatives that promote transparency and traceability are becoming a popular branding tool for food companies. Global fast-food giant McDonald's launched the TrackmyMacca's app in January, allowing consumers to track where the ingredients in their meals had come from. Read more about this tactic in Brand Transparency and Show & Tell Retail.