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Fast Casual Magazine Names 2005’s Top 100 Movers and Shakers

Industry Experts Identify Brands, People and Trends Leading the Way in $511 Billion Restaurant Industry’s Fastest-Growing Segment

Louisville, KY, February 02, 2006 --( Fast Casual magazine, which reports on the emerging fast casual restaurant industry, has released its Top 100 Movers and Shakers list based on 2005 activity, trends and happenings, with well-known brands such as Panera Bread, Starbucks and Buffalo Wild Wings in the Top 10.

The fast casual restaurant industry grew by leaps and bounds in 2005 and is expected to exceed $70 billion this year, with more than 400 brands fueling this new dining explosion. A panel of four experts in restaurant brand quality scrutinized not only restaurant brands, but individual people, trends and even menu items as well to create a comprehensive and well-rounded list. The panel consisted of best-selling author and brand scientist Janelle Barlow; founder and publisher of Fast Casual and its online companion Paul Barron; well-known food industry consultant Alan Guinn, and marketing expert Aaron Allen and a team of associates from the Quantified Marketing Group.

The Top 100 selections were not based on sales or total units, but rather on what is known in the industry as “thin slicing” – the psychological method of experts developing an opinion on a subject based on small amounts of immediate information combined with a large amount of overall experience.

“We chose this group of experts carefully for their broad base of experience and knowledge in the restaurant industry,” said Barron, who has more than 20 years experience in the restaurant industry himself in a variety of capacities. “Janelle Barlow is the authority when it comes to brands, Alan Guinn has more than 25 years of experience in operations, franchising, licensing and more, and Aaron Allen leads a marketing group that has helped restaurateurs grow their businesses in many new and exciting ways. It was really an amazing group of minds to work with.”

Leading the Top 100 list for 2005 is Raving Brands of Atlanta, a company that has quickly built an empire in the fast casual restaurant segment, with a variety of concepts and brands such as Moe’s Southwest Grill, Mama Fu's Asian House and Doc Green's Gourmet Salads. Raving Brands grew to more than 500 restaurants that did $250 million in sales, and more restaurants are being added every week. Two more brand concepts are in the works.

“This year's Hot 100 List serves as a true indicator of the best of the best,” Guinn said. “They are the players whose actions made a difference to the consumer, and who continue to lead by their innovative thinking, innovative processes, and innovative technology. These players in the industry set the benchmark by which others can and will be judged in the future.”

Prior to launch, Fast Casual magazine conducted a three-year industry analysis which established many critical metrics of the fast casual restaurant segment and the difference it is making in the restaurant industry in general, with more than $70 billion in sales attributed in the fast services space. Fast Casual magazine has defined a clear and concise operational difference in this market, evaluated why fast casual service is becoming so ingrained in our society and forecasted that by 2015 more than 50 fast casual brands like Starbucks and Panera will be household names. 

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