What is a Quick Service Restaurant?

Instructor: Ian Lord

Ian is a real estate investor, MBA, former health professions educator, and Air Force veteran.

In this lesson, we will take a look at the defining characteristics and primary competitor of a quick service restaurant, which you probably better know as a fast food restaurant.

Quick Service Restaurants Defined

Bill is looking to purchase a restaurant franchise and has heard the term quick service restaurant thrown around among other fancy sounding terms to describe different types of dining. Bill has never heard anyone say, 'I could really use some food from a quick service restaurant.' What does that mean in plain English? Let's help Bill understand what exactly a quick service restaurant is and how it differs from competitors in the restaurant industry.

The restaurant industry term quick service restaurant (QSR) would be recognized by Bill as what people usually call fast food. Examples of such restaurants include McDonald's, Wendy's, and Burger King, and drink and snack chains, such as Starbucks. These restaurants typically sell products at a price point of about five dollars for each meal. This means that typically a person will spend about five dollars for a sandwich meal or a fancy cup of coffee.

Key Features

Bill is excited about business prospects that are typically seen in QSRs. There are many labor expense saving possibilities that reduce costs and speed up the service that customers expect.

Drive-through windows allow customers to purchase food without having to come into the restaurant. Many QSRs use or are planning to implement computer kiosks where customers can place their order and pay without having to interact with an employee until they receive their food. Customers who choose to come into the restaurant pick up their food from the counter, take their food to a table, and dispose of any trash.

Since the small menu selection is primarily made up of items such as sandwiches, baked goods, salads, burritos, or fried foods, preparation is fast and easy. Bill can hire entry level employees who do not require specialized culinary training to prepare the food and serve customers. Many of the menu items can be mostly prepared at a centralized supplier with the final restaurant level prep limited to heating and assembly. The employees do not need to be responsible for measuring ingredients or preparing complex recipes.


If Bill considers a quick service restaurant he needs to be aware of the direct competition he faces within the industry.

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