Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc., still reeling from a series of foodborne-illness outbreaks, isn’t the only fast-casual restaurant that suffered last year. An index of eight fast-casual restaurant stocks, including Noodles & Co. and Potbelly Corp., tumbled 24 percent in 2015. Compare that with the Standard & Poor’s 500 Restaurants Index, which gained 22 percent.
Fast-casual restaurant chains, seen as a step above traditional fast food, may be losing some of their luster. Even before Chipotle’s health woes, its sales were slowing. And companies that had initial public offerings in recent years, such as Zoe’s Kitchen Inc., have come down from their post-IPO highs.
The Bloomberg Fast-Casual Restaurants Index includes Chipotle, Noodles, Panera Bread Co., Zoe’s, Potbelly, Habit Restaurants Inc., Cosi Inc. and Fiesta Restaurant Group Inc.