Generally, I don't like fast food much, though I do admire the concept of food that is fast, convenient and generally tasty. I admire, not the way their business principles are executed, but the fundamental principles themselves. Fast food undoubtedly destroys small business, is unsustainable, inhumane, not to mention unhealthy, and its pioneers can be compared to the robber barons of the industrial revolution. However this is what it has become, and indeed, all those adjectives I just listed have become synonymous with fast food. Why not dissipate these assumptions? Who's to say that food can't be sustainable and relatively healthy, while still being convenient and tasty?
The big problem with this idea is money. It is simply impossible to charge the same price for humanely raised, grass-fed beef as McDonald's charges for their beef, yet using basic fast food principles, I think that prices could be lower than one would expect. The fast food giants control about 85% of the market for beef (Fast Food Nation), and they buy from a few large suppliers. These large suppliers, namely ConAgra, have done their best to eliminate competition. Smaller ranchers have no one to sell to. Why not source meat from dozens, if not hundreds of smaller ranchers, therefore supporting smaller farmers and putting healthy competition back in the marketplace, therefore supporting smaller ranchers (and in turn increasing quality) and creating some healthy competition to keep prices low.
The meat or course, isn't the only thing that costs money. Because fast food is really more industry than food, everything gets done more efficiently. The whole system is a production line itself. To lower prices while maintaining quality, we must find ground where industry meets quality. A trick is oversimplifying the labor to the extent that almost anyone can do it. This is where sous vide comes in handy. Anyone can vacuum pack a chicken breast then drop the pouch in a water bath. All anyone would really need to do cooking-wise is sear it off on a flaming hot flat-top to order. The food is all pre-cooked sous vide, all that's necessary is a few minutes of heating. This food is definitely fast, requires cheap labor, is convenient, and could potentially be very tasty.
And finally the menu. The theme is sandwiches.
Meats: Chicken Confit. Chicken Breast. Pulled Pork. Pork Belly. Brisket. Burgers.
All the meats would be sous vide before being seared to order, or in the case of brisket or pulled pork, held warm.
Toppings: Avocado, caramelized onions, Balsalmic reduction, garlic aioli, red pepper aioli, bleu cheese, sharp cheddar, aged gouda, bacon, apple, roasted broccoli, broccoli rabe, fried egg.
Breads: Whole wheat sourdough. Whole wheat brioche (yes I just said that). Whole Wheat hoagie roll. Whole wheat croissant.
All of these are 100% whole wheat, though I would probably end up serving white bread too because there might not be a big enough market in the whole wheat field, but who knows.
Do I really like this blueprint that I have right now? Yes. But do I really know any specifics regarding the business aspect? No, definitely not. So don't quote me.
Note: Someone mentioned that fast food really is actually very good for small business, because of franchises. They said that the franchise provides a somewhat low-risk ticket in to business, that would be impossible without the help of the fast food restaurant. I see the point, but I strongly disagree with this. It is true that fast food companies make it much easier for small business owners to start up, however many fast food companies employ ruthless tactics to keep franchisees under their strict control. To quote Fast Food Nation "In recent years conflicts between franchisees and franchisors have become much more common... It is perfectly legal under federal law for a fast food chain to take kickbacks from its suppliers, to open a new restaurant next door to an existing franchisee, and to evict a franchisee without giving cause or paying any compensation" (Schlosser 99). -And fast food companies take advantage of this. To site an example, a Jack in the Box exec "once terminated the contracts of 642 Jack in the Box franchisees, giving them just thirty days to move out" (Schlosser 99). Fast food companies do their best to keep franchises away from "small business." They regulate suppliers, and pretty much everything else about the franchise. Technically a McDonald's, or a Burger King, or a Subway, or a Wendy's franchise could be called a small business, but walk inside and it is merely an expansion of a major corporation. Moreover, even if fast food didn't do all this, what's the good of a "small business" fast food restaurant. Sure it provides oppurtunity for business owners, but it provides none of the benefits we look to in a small business. And finally, fast food has undoubtedly destroyed more than it has created. Though it is not entirely the fault of the ff industry, the U.S. has shifted towards anything corporate, which in itself, makes life more difficult for small-business owners. It's much harder now to own a mom and pop pizzeria with a pizza hut or sbarro's on every corner. The people who raise the food are likewise hurt. Smaller ranchers have trouble finding business, as do potato farmers, and farmers with chickens. I could go on. Anyway, I don't know why I spent so much time on that, but once I start, it's hard to stop.