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If you could create a Fast Food restaurant what would it be and why?

I stopped eating meat over 2 years ago. I eat fish once in a while but mostly a vegetarian diet. I really miss being able to grab a quicky fast food meal. I never ate fast food all that much but it was handy on occasion when you're on the road or don't have time to stop for lunch but need to grab something. And I really miss sandwiches. The ease of some deli meat, cheese, lettuce and tomato...done. Most fast food restaurants have little to offer someone who doesn't eat meat.

I'd create a vegetarian/vegan sandwich fast food/drive through with really good healthy food. Falafal, several varieties of homemade veggie burgers with lots of toppings. Grilled veggie sandwiches and lots of really good bread. Just because it's veggie doesn't mean it has to be a wrap all the time. I miss really good bread! Crispy eggplant parm on crusty Italian bread. Oh yes!! And fresh pasta salads, potato salad, interesting side salads to go on the side.

Put these in every major city and in highway rest stops.

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  1. Since I recently started working in a produce market that offers sandwiches and soups I'm especially interested in your concept!

    1. Mine would just sell McDonald's Filet-O-Fish every day of the week, and every hour of the day. I would also offer McDonald's hash browns as a side. That's it.

      1 Reply
      1. re: ipsedixit

        or fries squished in that F O' F with extra tartar sauce...heaven

      2. Mine would be a build your own grain salad bowl place -- a selection of pre-cooked grains and beans, dozens of chopped veggies, nuts, cheeses, proteins, with dressings and greens -- sort of like the Whole Foods salad bar, but without having to set foot in that odious place. A wall of giant Agua Fresca canisters in every color/flavor imaginable.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Fargo

          Yumm! Cafe chain here in Oregon is sit-down but order and pick up at the counter. They're a hit with vegetarians, and have some options for us omnivores.

        2. There's a chain here in SoCal - don't know how wide-spread it is - called Olean, that advertises vegetarian fast food. I haven't checked it out, since that's not the sort of thing I'm looking for at a drive-through, but since Mrs. O has stopped eating her fellow animals I should probably give them a try. There's one just a few blocks away.

          ipsedixit, McDo could stop selling anything but their breakfast items - yes, and add the Filet-O-Fish to that list! - and it'd be just dandy with me. I think an Egg-and-Fish McMuffin would be a glorious thing, especially with the hash browns.

          10 Replies
          1. re: Will Owen

            There's a chain here in SoCal - don't know how wide-spread it is - called Olean, that advertises vegetarian fast food. I haven't checked it out, since that's not the sort of thing I'm looking for at a drive-through, but since Mrs. O has stopped eating her fellow animals I should probably give them a try. There's one just a few blocks away.

            Wait a minute. Isn't "Olean" a fake fat used in potato chips that can cause diarrhea when consumed in large quantities?

            What's next in restaurant names? Ex-Lax?

            1. re: ipsedixit

              (Ipsedixit, I think that was Olestra.)
              Makes my innards squirm just thinking about it

              1. re: jmcarthur8

                Yeah, the so-called "anal leakage" attributed to Olestra really spooks me.

                  1. re: ipsedixit

                    Well, how about that. Turns out that Ipse, as usual, is right again.

                    I don't think that Olestra has gained much popularity, though undoubtedly it has given a huge boost to the dry cleaning industry.

                    1. re: Tripeler

                      I see it around now and again on low fat chips. I've never had a problem with it, but just that fact that I'm eating out of a bag that mentions "anal leakage" is kinda creepy.

                      1. re: Tripeler

                        .... though undoubtedly it has given a huge boost to the dry cleaning industry.

                        More likely the Depends undergarments industry.

                  2. re: ipsedixit

                    Olean (pronounced Oh Lee Ann) is a town in western New York not particularly noted for its vegetarian cuisine, or any thing else I can think of. It is farm country, though, so I suppose there's a connection :) Apples and dairy, I think.

                    Anyway, I'd do an Indian-influenced fast food chain, with stuffed breads and samosas.

                    1. re: tardigrade

                      +1 on your idea of Indian-influenced fast food, Tardigrade.

                      India does the very best vegetarian foods I believe.

                1. Sounds good to me. The time is right. Do it!

                  I'm familiar with many of the vegetarian and vegan places here (I'm not vegetarian) and can't think of a single one with a drive thru. I wonder why. But there are several with grab-n-go counters and very fast service from a steam table (hot and cold versions) - ready made salads, sides and mains that can be boxed up quickly. Sandwiches are usually made when ordered, as are some mains. A couple of vegetarian delis (both happen to be close to major highways) and a Buddhist vegetarian place which even offers vegetarian dim sum are favorites of mine. Knock a hole in the wall and all three could handle drive-thru service. None serving falafel, though.

                  There are also numerous short order type of places offering veggie fare, although not exclusively, and a vegetarian Indian food truck and 2 vegan trucks.

                  I would imagine many major metropolitan areas offer at least some of these kinds of options.

                  I was just reading the other day of Mickey D's first all vegetarian restaurants in India:


                  I'd give it a try if they opened one here and I haven't been to Mickey D's in about 7 years. That potato patty burger sounds like a Bun Kabob, a Pakistani take on a hamburger that can be veggie or meat based; numerous places here offer that.

                  1. One that is gluten free for those of us with celiac disease that serves all manner of fast food including really good fish and chips, burgers, etc. A big bonus would be freshly-baked gluten-free bread (that is more than just edible) and pastry. I have never been a fast food fan but happily become one for an occasional treat if this option were available to me.

                    ETA: A dedicated gluten-free restaurant with zero risk of cross contamination would be miraculous!

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: chefathome

                      This article in the NY times talks about a new wave of Indian fast food. Yes, I know it's based on the dreaded chipotle model & I know it's not "authentic," but I would try it as an alternative to what's already out there! **my first post**

                    2. A healthy food drive through, which occurred to me once I had a kid and was loathe to unstrap him from the car seat and then strap him in again every time we stopped somewhere, especially as he became bigger and heavier. All my suburban mom friends agree, this would be a great convenience, wish I had some extra capital to invest!

                      1. Something Vegetarian,maybe Vegan and or Kosher,that isn't an insult to food or taking advantage of a "captive" consumer.Too many barely mediocre offerings at several dining levels.

                        1. There are plenty of vegetarian options at most fast food places. I am not a vegetarian, I gave up fast food many years ago and never have a problem finding anything to eat anywhere. I eat a lunch meat sandwich a handful of times a year, if that. I think you are not thinking very creatively about food and what choices you have. All fast food places sell salads, no? Technically, fries are usually vegetarian, as are most drinks and sides like apples. And a few FF places do have a veggie burger. If you expand into "fast casual" places of all stripes, there are dozens of choices, from Chipotle to Panera to Boston Market. Why does going vegetarian mean you stopped eating at these places if you like them? I don't eat fast food, meat or no meat, but I find plenty of things to eat when I am out and about that aren't fast food. If I stop at a rest stop on the highway, there are stores that sell things like trail mix, chips, luna or lara bars, fruit cups, juice, etc.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: rockandroller1

                            I'm extremely creative. I don't think trail mix and chips is a nutritious meal option. There are NOT plenty of choices at fast food restaurants. Some, like Burger King, offer a token veggie burger but it's absolutely horrible. Most fast food salads are wilted veggies and come with meat so you have to order without. Panera has good salads but most come with meat and when you order without they charge you the same high prices.

                            I want a vegetarian/vegan fast food sandwich shop with a drive through all over the country and on highway stops. I'm not satisfied with wilted lettuce, trail mix and chips. If you were vegetarian you would get it.

                            1. re: Jpan99

                              Have you tried Subway? Not your vision of the ideal place, but I've developed a fondness for their veggie patty. Add cheese get it toasted and loaded with lettuce, tomato, pickles, cucs, banana pepper and oil/vinegar. My go to sandwich when I'm on a road trip and I'm looking to avoid the usual fats and sugar of most fast food places. Veggie Deluxe is good too.

                          2. Tacos with the soy crumbles made by MorningStar...so so good..add a little fresh garlic.
                            Gussy those bad boys up with slices of avocado, extra sharp cheese, red onion, red leaf lettuce and hot hot sauce..
                            Flour or corn tortillas fried up..want crispy tacos..
                            Serve with hibiscus tea and a slice of banana cream pie.

                            1. I've had a concept for a chili restaurant for a long time -- a food truck would be perfect for it, but regular fast food would work too. At any point, it would have several varieties of chili -- Texas red, Cincinatti-style, Southwestern pork and roasted green chile chili, white chicken chili, vegetarian spicy black bean chili, and so forth. Easily 8 or 10 different kinds at any time, and there would always be some mild, some hot, and some vegetarian, to give people lots of options.

                              You could get them served in a regular bowl, a hollowed-out bread bowl or a fluffy-yet-firm tortilla, over pasta or rice or even tortilla chips (like nachos), or a special segmented bowl to allow someone to sample three or four different kinds. And of course it would have multiple kinds of cheeses, peppers, veggies, and other toppings for your chili. It wouldn't be ideal for eating in cars, but I'd love a chili restaurant like that!

                              1. I would bring a Chicago-style street stand to my hometown of Indy because this is literally my favorite kind of restaurant. There would be no seats inside, just a counter to lean over as you try to devour your greasy meal without spilling all over yourself. Italian beef would be roasted in-house and topped with house-made giardinera, while gyros would use the factory-made Kronos cylinder and would be properly slow-broiled on the spit, never griddled. I'd chargrill Chicago Red Hots and offer all the Chicago dog toppings, plus ketchup as an option because I'm not a jackass. Fries would be hand-cut and double-fried every day, no frozen crinkle-cut garbage here. And because the best stands seem to always have one oddball item that doesn't belong, I'd also have a BBQ pork and cabbage egg roll with sinus-clearing Chinese mustard sauce.

                                2 Replies
                                  1. re: RealMenJulienne

                                    I'm drooling.

                                    "because I'm not a jackass" - love that.

                                  2. In the early 90s, I did open a fast food joint in my small town. We served a bit of everything - charcoal grilled hamburgers, italian sausage burgers, grilled ribs, gyro, cajun fries, steamed chili dogs, etc. We were big on fried stuff - wings, mozz sticks, breaded zuccini/mushrooms, fried clams, shrimp, scallops, chicken, and more.
                                    Occasionally someone would ask me if I felt bad about serving "unhealthy fried stuff". I'd say no, I'm not forcing anyone to buy or choose these things, but more importantly I'm offering things that SELL. If eating vegetarian was all the rage, well then I'd sell that. I was in business to stay in business.
                                    Of course this depends on your location. "major cities and highway rest stops" may have the traffic to suport such a venture, but it would (IMO) still be difficult to compete with more mainstream-type joints.

                                    Perhaps not a true "fast food" place, but I'd like to start a hamburger joint with a twist: different cuts of beef (and other meats - maybe lamb and/or goat and/or horse and/or pork etc etc...) are displayed in a casement fridge (like a butcher shop). The customer chooses their cut (ribeye or sirloin or chuck or shortrib, etc) and the staff portions, grinds, and cooks the meat on the spot to order.
                                    This may or may not work. It may also become a logistical nightmare, but its just a fancy of mine.