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3/14/2014 - Fast casual dining experience proved to be popular

More Americans will likely head to fast casual dining hotspots in 2014.

With 2014 well underway, restaurateurs are beginning to get a partial glimpse of what their business clientele and robustness will look like over the course of the year. And according to market research firm Mintel, several specific themes are expected to emerge over the course of the upcoming months.

Recently, the London-based analysis and media intelligence company unveiled what trends will likely hold in the restaurant industry in 2014. What's really expected to take off is the fast casual segment. Restaurant owners have found that instead of offering low prices on certain dishes, their patrons are willing to spend a little bit more for their meals, as long as what's being produced comes out quickly and is of top quality.

"A slew of new concepts focusing on customization, speed of service and convenience, have sprouted," Mintel noted in its trends report. "These include higher quality burger chains; concepts more firmly focused on health and a rash of pizza restaurants that can deliver a fully-cooked, customized pizza in a matter of minutes."

Restaurants expected to 'shine a light' on their own practices
Something else that's anticipated to be seen with greater regularity is restaurants being more open with the dining public about the ingredients they use in their dishes and providing greater transparency in how they're prepared. Mintel indicated that consumers these days are particularly inclined to dine out at restaurants that adhere to being open about where their ingredients come from and how animals were raised, such as whether cattle were grass-fed.

Mintel expects that restaurant industry sales nationwide this year will eclipse the estimated total earnings of $438 billion in 2013 by nearly 6%.

Along with reviving or putting a different spin on restaurant services, dining services managers and entrepreneurs need to be sure to review their businessowners insurance policies so they can make sure they have the appropriate level of coverage in the event of a lawsuit involving a disgruntled guest. Some of these legal matters prove to be thrown out once they reach court. One of the more frivolous ones from 2013 involved a major sandwich chain being sued because their footlong sandwiches weren't exactly 12 inches in length, as noted in the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform's most ridiculous lawsuits report.

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