133 episodes

Fast Forward, a podcast from the editors of QSR magazine—the leading publication for foodservice owners and operators—discusses the future of the fast food restaurant industry. Made for restaurant executives, entrepreneurs, and leaders, each episode features an interview with fast-casual founders and visionaries who discuss the ongoing successes and challenges of building a restaurant company from scratch.

Fast Forward: A Quick Service Restaurant Podcast from QSR Magazine QSR magazine

    • Business
    • 4.8 • 28 Ratings

Fast Forward, a podcast from the editors of QSR magazine—the leading publication for foodservice owners and operators—discusses the future of the fast food restaurant industry. Made for restaurant executives, entrepreneurs, and leaders, each episode features an interview with fast-casual founders and visionaries who discuss the ongoing successes and challenges of building a restaurant company from scratch.

    Whataburger's leaders on getting through crises like a family

    Whataburger's leaders on getting through crises like a family

    Everything restaurants have been forced to go through in the last year has been unprecedented. The COVID-19 pandemic has been a crisis like no other for restaurants. There hasn’t been a playbook. But there have been some companies that have been better prepared for crises than others.

    Just look at Whataburger. This is a company whose restaurants are primarily based in the South, and which has been forced to deal with hurricane and storm damage to its restaurants seemingly every year. Even just this year, a huge chunk of Whataburger’s restaurants had to deal with the snow storm that paralyzed Texas for a week in February. But Whataburger has rolled with every punch and survived every hurricane, every snow storm, and now every pandemic, all thanks to its company culture, which its leaders describe as being very much like a family.

    Pam Nemec, Whataburger's senior vice president of HR and brand culture, and Jeff North, the senior vice president of restaurant segment support, join the podcast to talk about Whataburger’s hiring, training, and people development practices, and how they come together in this family-style culture.

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    • 47 min
    Raising Cane's founder and co-CEO on building a pandemic-proof culture

    Raising Cane's founder and co-CEO on building a pandemic-proof culture

    Chicken-finger brand Raising Cane's lost 30 percent of its sales in the weeks following stay-at-home orders last March, but by the end of 2020, it was clearing its original sales expectations by 10 percent. How did it do it? Drive thrus helped a lot, but the company's culture was mostly to thank.

    That culture is something founder Todd Graves has been working on since he opened the first location in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in 1996, and it helped the company clock in at No. 89 in Glassdoor’s most recent “Best Places to Work” list. Graves and co-CEO AJ Kumaran join the podcast to talk about how Cane’s culture comes alive in its stores, how the corporate team has invested deeply in its Restaurant Leaders, and how all of this served the brand well in the pandemic. 

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    • 1 hr
    Crisp & Green's founder on the health food concept's big pandemic success

    Crisp & Green's founder on the health food concept's big pandemic success

    If you were to point to some of the biggest trends in the pre-pandemic foodservice world, health-oriented concepts would have to be in the top five. Especially in the fast-casual category, there was a lot of momentum for salad and bowl concepts that were geared toward that healthy, active lifestyle. When COVID showed up, though, some wondered if the momentum for that category had hit a wall.

    But that’s not really been the case—at least not for Crisp & Green. In fact, founder Steele Smiley says the pandemic could be the “single best thing that ever happened to this company.” Indeed, COVID-19 gave Crisp & Green an opportunity to add some muscle, and it's accelerating from eight stores today to around 40 by the end of 2021.

    Smiley joins the podcast to talk about how Crisp & Green will capitalize on a coming health food boom, why community is key to the success of healthy restaurant brands like Crisp & Green, and how COVID has changed the health food movement going forward.

    This episode is brought to you by Blount Fine Foods.

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    • 38 min
    Tacos 4 Life's cofounder on upholding its mission during the pandemic

    Tacos 4 Life's cofounder on upholding its mission during the pandemic

    The buy-one-give-one model became popular in the last 10–15 years, with businesses like TOMS Shoes and Warby Parker donating a product to those in need for every transaction they made. That’s exactly what Tacos 4 Life is doing with tacos, as founders Austin and Ashton Samuelson committed to donating the funds necessary to purchase one meal to the organization Feed My Starving Children for every taco they sell.

    That mission was sailing along until last March, when COVID arrived. And like every other restaurant in America, Tacos 4 Life was staring down some very difficult realities in its business, forced to adapt to an off-premises-oriented world. But one thing never wavered: the brand’s commitment to its mission. Austin Samuelson joins the podcast to talk about how Tacos 4 Life has built a successful for-profit business with a charitable mission at its core, how that mission was protected from the worst of the pandemic, and how the brand plans to build upon what it’s learned this year in its efforts to fight childhood hunger globally.

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    • 37 min
    Fields Good Chicken founder on reinventing an urban fast casual restaurant

    Fields Good Chicken founder on reinventing an urban fast casual restaurant

    While most quick serves and fast casuals had a huge advantage in quickly recovering from the sales drop of last March, there is a whole subset of fast casuals that, even if they were in tune with digital and off-premises trends, took much longer to recover. Those are the fast casuals in more urban areas or business districts, brands that might have done 80 percent or more of their sales at the lunch daypart and had a massive catering business serving the workers of downtown Chicago, San Francisco, Boston, or other major cities.

    Fields Good Chicken is one such fast casual that was at the mercy of the shuttered office spaces and the quick pivot to remote work. Founded by Field Failing in 2014, this wholesome chicken brand had grown to six New York City locations before the pandemic, and was geared toward that Manhattan office lunch crowd that completely evaporated last March. But Fields Good Chicken didn’t give up—and it didn’t let a good opportunity go to waste. Failing joins the podcast to talk about how the brand spent this season finding efficiencies in the operation, why it decided to pare back its menu, and how the evolution of the restaurant industry reminds him of the e-commerce revolution of the early 2000s.

    This episode is brought to you by Lamb Weston.

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    • 47 min
    McAlister's Deli president on its digital service evolution

    McAlister's Deli president on its digital service evolution

    The COVID-19 pandemic has forced restaurants to rethink how they get their food into customers' hands, and technology has allowed them to get really creative with service. That's led to a real opportunity for restaurants of all service models to innovate—which is exactly what McAlister’s Deli is doing.

    Prior to the pandemic, McAlister's was doing dine-in, carryout, and third-party delivery model, while also testing curbside. After the pandemic, though, it’s expanded those service channels to include direct delivery, system-wide curbside, and even tableside delivery. It's managed all of this with a robust digital evolution, one that has led its digital sales to more than double in the last year and its loyalty program to grow seven-fold.

    McAlister's president Joe Guith joins the podcast to talk about how the new service formats have changed McAlister’s growth trajectory, how the brand has found efficiencies in its model, and how it plans to become the next billion-dollar brand.

    This episode is brought to you by Lamb Weston.

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    Have feedback or interview suggestions? Email us at sam@qsrmagazine.com.

    • 28 min

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
28 Ratings

28 Ratings

toryb120 ,

Great Discussion!

Loved hearing the backstory for the development of Blaze

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