Fast casual and fast food brands pivot to innovate during Covid-19

In recent years, young adults have been called out for their penchant for takeout, getting delivery, and generally avoiding the task of cooking. But Covid-19 is changing that. Cassandra uncovered that nearly two-thirds of young people (64%) say their dining habits have changed (just this summer), and compared to 2017, we have seen a significant rise in 2020 in young people saying that cooking is a top way to spend their free time. In tandem, restaurants are having to pivot rapidly to address such consumer shifts, as well as mitigate the loss of the captive office lunch patron urban fast casual restaurants counted on.


As the previously standard office lunch transitioned to an at-home meal for the WFH set, Sweetgreen moved quickly in order to address a shift in demand. The salad unicorn launched Plates, heartier entree-style dishes that offer a fuller and warmer meal. There are currently six preset Plate options and three Plate side dishes, and these offerings are essentially reconfigured Sweetgreen salads, rooted in wholesome grains, proteins, and vegetables. While Sweetgreen was originally going to roll out Plates in 2021, the brand instead made the idea a reality within a 30-day time frame in order to accommodate new consumer needs during the Covid-19 pandemic.


Farm-sourced fast casual eatery Dig Inn is using its Dig Acres farm (located in Chester, NY) for more than just its physical outposts: it’s now making Dig Acres’ produce available directly to customers as well. For just $26, customers can nab a Dig Acres Farm Box, which contains fresh produce delivered straight from the farm to their doorstep. Each box contains 7-9 vegetables that rotate weekly, along with other staples including milk, eggs, and flour. Customers can expect options like avocados, kale, cauliflower, potatoes, and other popular produce in their weekly boxes.


Amidst a renewed emphasis on cooking at home, Burger King France gave Parisian consumers the chance to get their hands on the Burger King menu items they’ve been craving—but consumers definitely had to do some DIY. The French arm of the popular fast food chain teamed up with creative agency Buzzman to create fun graphics of all the components needed to create BK classics such as the Whopper, Big Fish, and Steakhouse burgers, but with items that could be found at a local grocer. These images were circulated via Twitter sans additional instructions, inviting BK stans to attempt their own recreations as they sheltered at home.