FastCasual.com reveals annual Fast Casual Top 100 Movers & Shakers

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FastCasual.com’s editorial team has released its annual list of the industry’s most significant brands and trends, awarding Panera Bread the top spot.

Blaine Hurst (center), chief transformation & growth officer for Panera Bread with FastCasual.com's editor Cherryh Butler and Jeremy Dobrowolski, COO of Taylor Co.

We identify brands that are taking big risks and making fundamental changes that could dramatically shake up the fast casual status quo.

FastCasual.com’s editorial team has released its annual list of the industry’s most significant brands and trends, awarding Panera Bread the top spot. The 2015 Fast Casual Top 100 Movers & Shakers publication is now available for download and comes after an awards gala Sunday in Chicago. Sponsored by Taylor Company, the gala honored the Top 50 brands on this year's list.

This year’s list included 75 brands in which judges narrowed down from a pool of 900 nominations from FastCasual.com readers. Criteria included innovation, growth, social responsibility and overall contribution. The last 25 spots on the list went to the year’s most influential menu and technology trends as well as the industry’s most innovative marketing campaigns.

“The idea behind our Movers and Shakers list is to recognize brands that are going beyond simply generating positive sales and unit growth,” said Cherryh Butler, managing editor of FastCasual.com. “The process has a bit more subjectivity to it — to identify brands that are taking big risks and making fundamental changes that could dramatically shake up the fast casual status quo. Based on that criteria, Panera has received our top spot this year.”

Butler said Panera’s 2.0 initiative is about as big a risk as a brand of its size — and history — can take.

“Essentially, the company is undergoing a complete technology makeover to simplify the guests’ experience, from digital ordering and payment to operations,” Butler said.

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Founded in 2000, Networld Media Group is a leading business-to-business (B2B) media communications company specializing in digital media, associations and events in the mobile, self-service, digital signage, retail, food service and financial services industries. Online properties include ATMmarketplace.com, DigitalSignageToday.com, FastCasual.com, PizzaMarketplace.com, KioskMarketplace.com, MobilePaymentsToday.com, VirtualCurrencyToday.com, QSRweb.com, RetailCustomerExperience.com and ChurchCentral.com. The company produces executive summits in the fast casual, retail, ATM and mobile payments industries. Its custom media division develops Web sites, premium content and marketing services for associations such as the ATM Industry Association and the Electronic Funds Transfer Association.

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