A new takeaway sushi bar opening in London symbolises the growing demand for fast casual dining. Fast casual dining straddles the demand for restaurant quality food that can be ordered and taken away like fastfood. It seems convenience and quality are both areas where modern consumers are unwilling to compromise.

Kantan, a new sushi bar opening in London, aims to offer 25 to 29 year old urban professionals 'value-for-money' takeaway sushi that is cheaper than sit-down rivals and provides an alternative to more traditional daytime snack or lunch options such as sandwiches.

The establishment is a manifestation of the growing trend in foodservice towards fast casual dining. Fast casual represents a happy medium between the standard fastfood concept, epitomised by McDonald's, and full service dining. It seeks to provide high quality dishes without the wait associated with standard restaurants.

The demand for this type of offering is being driven by the convenience mega-trend on one hand and the demand for high quality, healthier, freshly prepared food on the other. Despite increasing time pressures impinging on people's daily routine, consumers are nevertheless becoming more sensitive to the quality of what they eat. Manufacturers have tapped into this trend, and junk food is increasingly off the menu.

Foodservice outlets also cater for the increased informality of mealtimes by providing 'meal-snack' hybrids or full meal choices outside established mealtimes.

The 'light meals' trend is driven by the fragmentation of mealtimes across Europe, which means that more people are eating alone when time allows, often whilst on the move. 40% of Europeans' eating occasions take place outside regular mealtimes and 24.4% of all eating occasions were out of home in 2002.

The fast casual dining experience is intended to cater for all of these trends. Customers are seeking efficient, rapid service and high quality food provided in a format that allows them ultimate flexibility, including whether to eat in or take out, and the ability to enjoy the full menu whatever the time of day. Manufacturers and retailers should adapt to the idea of consumers eating well, anytime, anywhere - a necessity given the frenetic pace of modern urban living.

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