Ways Fast Casual Cafes Grow Their Success

With the help of social media, fast casual food establishments continue to become more prominent. Today, it is rare to find an eatery that doesn’t use social media. It can be a useful marketing tool for fast casual eateries but that doesn’t necessarily guarantee that your business is going to thrive. Many food establishments are spending thousands of dollars on aesthetics but, after their initial buzz, they end up struggling to stay relevant or have to shut down their business for good. So, why do some fast casual cafes thrive while others end up slowly becoming less relevant over time?

Strategies for Fast Casual Cafe Success: Food & Beverage Magazine


The fast casual cafe XO Marshmallow is a perfect example of a business that continually improves over time and knows how to stay relevant. Lindzi Shanks, co-founder of XO Marshmallow, conveys how vital social media has been to their success, “Instead of going viral, we use social media as a way to connect directly to our customers to get their feedback and build community.” One of the big mistakes most fast casual eateries make involve them utilizing social media only for viral posts. Viral posts can create a stir bringing in new customers but is it going to retain them? Engagement and building community are essential to a business’ longevity and success.

Once you build up a community and your engagement is good within social media, the likelihood that your business will be successful is higher. Lindzi Shanks was asked about the importance of making customers feel like they are part of a larger community, “our community has the biggest impact on our business as your customers are literally the reason you stay in business, so we feel you’d be doing yourself a disservice by not engaging them in the process and we are constantly asking our customers for feedback on social media and through reviews.” A community has a large impact on a business and the more customers feel like their voice is being heard, the more likely they will want to invest in the business.

Local grassroots initiatives have the ability to help businesses and Lindzi Shanks goes into detail about how beneficial they have been to XO Marshmallow. “Local markets have continued to be a big thing for us as we participate in a lot of markets and craft fair events around the city in an effort to convert people who have never heard of XO but live in Chicago to try out our products and come visit the cafe.” This allowed their business to not only generate sales at the market itself but it also created brand awareness. Many of those people who stop by their market booth are eventually seen at their cafe and become repeat customers. XO Marshmallow’s online shop is more focused on social media and national reach while their cafe is more focused on local and repeat customers.

XO Marshmallow is constantly evolving and improving every year. When figuring out ways to improve or introduce new products in their shop, Lindzi described the process as a group effort. “We have R&D days here in the kitchen where our team has the opportunity to really play around with ideas and create new things or help bring to life ideas that myself and Kat or our other non-production team members have thought about.” They also listen to their customers and if it is clear that they want a particular flavor or flavor combo, they test it out and put it into action. XO Marshmallow uses a combination of customer feedback and their team’s feedback to improve their business. This combination can be attributed to why their fast casual cafe has been so successful over the years.

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As time goes on we will continue to see more fast casual food cafes and competition in that business space will only get harder. Businesses who aim for longevity instead of virality will have a better chance of staying relevant. Social media is a vital marketing tool for businesses and using it strategically can garner great success.