WHAT'S NEXT: Tastier, Plusher--and Fast


It sounds laughably upper crust, but once you unwrap a Coronation Chicken sandwich, the name seems almost appropriate. It's made with white meat, mango chutney, fresh-roasted almonds and a curry dressing. And it's the signature product of Pret A Manger (that's French for "ready to eat"), a chain of spacious, well-lighted restaurants decorated with more chrome than a Ferrari showroom. The Coronation sandwich also fetches a fancy price--almost $7 in the chain's New York City stores--that translates into tidy profits.

Industry experts have grouped chains like Pret into a new category they call "fast casual" or "quick casual." These combine the...

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