Americans are not the sort of slobs who are satisfied with simply consuming a drab, tasteless burger in a hobo-infested fast food restaurant hastily rebranded as a "cafe." Americans are the sort of slobs who want their burgers fast—but casual. Americans want a slightly wider selection of toppings available on their burgers, and they want to consume those burgers in a very slightly more attractive setting than a Burger King bathroom. Americans demand this!
America's desire for a burger of a moderately higher quality than a McDonald's McFrozen—but one that will still fit within our sad little personal budgets—is the driving force behind the sit-down burger dining trend of the moment: the moderate rise of the moderately better burger. Ad Age reports:
U.S. sales for the top 75 limited-service burger chains rose 1.6% in 2010 to more than $65 billion, according to Technomic. Of those top 75, more than half are fast casual [slightly more upscale burger joints like Fatburger, Five Guys, or Shake Shack]...
Still, fast-casual burger joints are a driver of growth in the mature burger category, growing sales by 16.4% in 2010, while the hamburger segment overall grew 1.6%.
Countless bags of Whoppers Jr. are no longer a sufficient salve for the hopeless anomie of modern-day America. Americans now require a slightly more fastidiously prepared cheez-soaked ground beef patty to overwhelm our senses so that we cannot feel—for, at least, a few heavenly moments.
Burgers. Why not splurge on them?