Look to this month’s openings for restaurants that are killing it in Pittsburgh. Last week, Burgatory opened its sixth location in Murrysville, the day after BRGR opened its fourth location in the Galleria of Mt. Lebanon. Earlier this month, Big Burrito opened the 13th Mad Mex in Erie. And in mid-December, the third location of Hello Bistro from parent company Eat’n Park will open Downtown.
These local restaurants are taking a page from national chains, borrowing from systems that streamline staff and menus, leading to higher profits than a traditional restaurant without the base ingredients of fast-food conglomerates. They also take measures to personalize experiences, blurring the line between fast food and full-service, offering satisfying meals and an inexpensive night out. And they’re doing better than ever.
Welcome to fast food 2.0, or maybe it’s 4.0, as the genre has been reinventing itself sinceMerriam-Webster added the definition in 1951. The trend here mirrors what’s happening around the country. Although the new breed doesn’t look like Wendy’s or taste like McDonald’s, it’s bringing fast food back in a big way. For years, the fast-food industry has received criticism for disconnecting people from community and culture as well as playing a role in the obesity epidemic. But the updated fast-food market is on a mission to revamp its image from villain to hero.