Special Issue of the journal Sustainability

I’m excited to announce that I will be a Special Issue Co-Editor with my colleague Mark Holmes for the journal Sustainability. The issue will be titled “Sustainability in the Quick-Service and Fast Casual Restaurant Sector. Here is a copy of the call for papers for those that are interested in submitting a manuscript.

The food service market contributes to the gross domestic product of many countries around the globe, and it is expected to be valued at US$4.2 Trillion by 2024 (IMARC Group, 2019; Kramer, 2017). The industry continues to grow as the demand for away from home food (AFHF) increases (Dawe et al., 2019; Fiedler & Yadav, 2017; Adams et al., 2015; Orfanos et al., 2007; Guthrie, Lin & Frazao, 2002). Irrespective of the growth, there has been little research on the sustainability of restaurants, despite their changing consumer demands (Stewart et al., 2004; Schubert et al., 2010), environmental footprint (Pulkkinen et al., 2016; von Massow & McAdams, 2015; Teng, Wu & Huang, 2014; Wang et al., 2013; Kasim & Ismail, 2012), and social (Brewster & Brauer, 2017; Brewster, 2012; Luria & Yagil, 2008) considerations. This lack of literature becomes even greater when one looks at the quick service restaurant (QSR) (Ottenbacher et al., 2019; Nagam & Kumari, 2018; Sliwa et al., 2016; Swimberghe & Wooldridge, 2014; DiPietro, Gregory & Jackson, 2013; Brown et al., 2011) and fastest growing segment of the restaurant market, fast casual restaurant (FCR) ((Dixon, Miscuraca & Koutroumanis, 2018; DiPietro & Bufguin, 2018; Yuncu, Emir & Arslanturk, 2013; Ryu & Han, 2010) sectors of the industry. Where the majority of restaurants are in business to derive a profit, a number of companies have been looking for more sustainable ways to operate that benefit not only their bottom lines but also the consumers they serve (Ottenbacher et al., 2019; Holmes et al., 2018; Swimberghe & Wooldridge, 2014). 

Given the dearth of literature on the topic, and drawing on the concept of sustainability (WCED, 1987; Butler, 1993 & 1999, Bramwell & Lane, 1993, Carter, 1993, Hunter, 1995; Hall, 2008) and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) (United Nations, 2020), the focus of this special call will be to further discussion on the topic of sustainability in the quick service (QSR) and fast casual restaurant (FCR) segments. Papers in this special call will not only investigate how the restaurant industry is utilizing the SDG’s and/or sustainability principles, but also provide actionable recommendations that industry can utilize to develop and improve upon their current practices. Papers on any of the following topics, or related lines of inquiry, will be welcomed for consideration in this special issue:

  • Sustainable practices in restaurant operations
    • Food safety and handling practices
  • Meeting consumer preference for healthy, local, and/or organic food
    • Ethically sourced food supply
  • Sustainable foodservice workplaces
    • Mental health
    • Living wages
    • Equitable workplaces
    • Human resource policies
  • Waste, water, and energy reduction practices
    • Waste reduction
    • Single use plastics
    • Reducing environmental footprints
  • Community engagement
  • Impact of COVID-19 on restaurant operations 


Adams, J., Goffe, L., Brown, T., Lake, A. A., Summerbell, C., White, M., Wrieden, W .and Adamson, A. J. (2015). Frequency and socio-demographic correlates of eating meals out and take-away meals at home: cross-sectional analysis of the UK national diet and nutrition survey, waves 1–4 (2008–12). International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity12(1), 51.

Bengtsson, J., & Seddon, J. (2013). Cradle to retailer or quick service restaurant gate life cycle assessment of chicken products in Australia. Journal of Cleaner Production, 41, 291-300.

Bramwell, B. and Lane, B. (1993). Sustainable tourism: An evolving global approach. Journal of Sustainable Tourism, 1(1), 1-5.

Brewster, Z. W. (2012). Racialized customer service in restaurants: A quantitative assessment of the statistical discrimination explanatory framework. Sociological inquiry, 82(1), 3-28.

Brewster, Z. W., & Brauer, J. R. (2017). Different service, same experience: Documenting the subtlety of modern racial discrimination in US restaurants. Cornell Hospitality Quarterly, 58(2), 190-202.

Brown, D., Berko, P., Dedrick, P., Hilliard, B., & Pfleeger, J. (2011). Burgerville: sustainability and sourcing in a QSR supply chain. Oikos free case collection.

Butler, R. W. (1993). Tourism – an evolutionary perspective. In Tourism and Sustainable Development: Monitoring, Planning, Managing, ed. J.G. Nelson, R.W. Butler and G. Wall, pp. 27-44. Waterloo, Ontario: University of Waterloo.

Butler, R. W. (1999). Sustainable tourism: A state-of-the-art review. Tourism Geographies, 1(1), 7-25.

Carter, E. (1993). Ecotourism and the Third World: Problems for sustainable tourism development. Tourism Management, 14(2), 85-90.

Dawe, D., Briones, R., Hassan, N., Huang, J., Ganesh Kumar, A., Nguyen, L. H., Saliem, H.P., Shaheen N., Truong, T.T.T, Wichitaksorn, N., and Bloem, S. (2019). Trends in food prepared outside the home in some Asian countries. World Food Policy5(1), 16-23.

DiPietro, R. B., Gregory, S., & Jackson, A. (2013). Going green in quick-service restaurants: Customer perceptions and intentions. International Journal of Hospitality & Tourism Administration, 14(2), 139-156.

DiPietro, R., & Bufquin, D. (2018). Effects of work status congruence and perceived management concern for employees on turnover intentions in a fast casual restaurant chain. Journal of Human Resources in Hospitality & Tourism, 17(1), 38-59.

Dixon, D. P., Miscuraca, J. A., & Koutroumanis, D. A. (2018). Looking Strategically to the Future of Restaurants: Casual Dining or Fast Casual?. Entrepreneurship Education and Pedagogy, 1(1), 102-117.

Fiedler, J. L., & Yadav, S. (2017). How can we better capture food away from Home? Lessons from India’s linking person-level meal and household-level food data. Food policy72, 81-93.

Guthrie, J. F., Lin, B. H., & Frazao, E. (2002). Role of food prepared away from home in the American diet, 1977-78 versus 1994-96: changes and consequences. Journal of nutrition education and behavior34(3), 140-150.

Hunter, C. (1997). Sustainable tourism as an adaptive paradigm. Annals of Tourism Research, 24(4), 850-867.

Hutchinson, D., Singh, J. and Walker, K. (2012). An assessment of the early stages of a sustainable business model in the Canadian fast food industry. European Business Review, 24(6), 519-531.

IMARC Group (2019). Food Service Market: Global Industry Trends, Share, Size, Growth, Opportunity and Forecast 2019-2024. Research and Markets.

Kasim, A., & Ismail, A. (2012). Environmentally friendly practices among restaurants: drivers and barriers to change. Journal of Sustainable Tourism, 20(4), 551-570.

Kramer, J. (2017). The Fast-Food Industry is Growing Faster Than the U.S. Economy. Retrieved from https://www.foodandwine.com/news/fast-food-industry-growing-us-economy

Luria, G., & Yagil, D. (2008). Procedural justice, ethical climate and service outcomes in restaurants. International Journal of Hospitality Management, 27(2), 276-283.

Nigam, A., & Kumari, S. (2018). Green practices for sustainability of quick service chain restaurants business: an empirical investigation. World Review of Entrepreneurship, Management and Sustainable Development, 14(6), 717-729.

Orfanos, P., Naska, A., Trichopoulos, D., Slimani, N., Ferrari, P., Van Bakel, M., … & De Magistris, M. S. (2007). Eating out of home and its correlates in 10 European countries. The European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) study. Public health nutrition10(12), 1515-1525.

Ottenbacher, M. C., Kuechle, G., Harrington, R. J., & Kim, W. H. (2019). QSR customer sustainable behaviors and brand practice perceptions on willingness to pay a premium. International Hospitality Review.

Pulkkinen, H., Roininen, T., Katajajuuri, J. M., & Järvinen, M. (2016). Development of a Climate Choice meal concept for restaurants based on carbon footprinting. The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment, 21(5), 621-630.

Ryu, K., & Han, H. (2010). Influence of the quality of food, service, and physical environment on customer satisfaction and behavioral intention in quick-casual restaurants: Moderating role of perceived price. Journal of Hospitality & Tourism Research, 34(3), 310-329.

Schubert, F., Kandampully, J., Solnet, D., & Kralj, A. (2010). Exploring consumer perceptions of green restaurants in the US. Tourism and Hospitality Research, 10(4), 286-300.

Sliwa, S., Anzman-Frasca, S., Lynskey, V., Washburn, K., & Economos, C. (2016). Assessing the availability of healthier Children’s meals at leading quick-service and full-service restaurants. Journal of nutrition education and behavior, 48(4), 242-249.

Stewart, H., Blisard, N., Bhuyan, S., & Nayga Jr, R. M. (2004). The demand for food away from home: Full-service or fast food? (No. 1473-2016-120777).

Swimberghe, K. R., & Wooldridge, B. R. (2014). Drivers of customer relationships in quick-service restaurants: The role of corporate social responsibility. Cornell Hospitality Quarterly, 55(4), 354-364.

Teng, Y. M., Wu, K. S., & Huang, D. M. (2014). The influence of green restaurant decision formation using the VAB model: The effect of environmental concerns upon intent to visit. Sustainability, 6(12), 8736-8755.

United Nations (2020). General Assembly resolution 70/1, Transforming our world: the 2030 agenda for sustainable development, A/RES/70/1 (21 October 2015). Available from https://www.un.org/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=A/RES/70/1&Lang=E

von Massow, M., & McAdams, B. (2015). Table scraps: An evaluation of plate waste in restaurants. Journal of Foodservice Business Research, 18(5), 437-453.

Wang, Y. F., Chen, S. P., Lee, Y. C., & Tsai, C. T. S. (2013). Developing green management standards for restaurants: An application of green supply chain management. International Journal of Hospitality Management, 34, 263-273.

Yuncu, H. R., Emir, O., & Arslanturk, Y. (2013). A study on determining the factors that influence the customer value in the fast casual restaurants. International Journal of Business and Social Science, 4(3).

Dr. Mark Robert Holmes
Prof. Bruce McAdams
Guest Editors

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