Trends and Restaurants

We had so many comments about last month’s article that we thought we might continue to elaborate on what to do in troubled times. So here it goes:

So much has happened to our economy in the last several years that it can feel overwhelming. These changes have impacted our lives personally, in business, in our buying patterns, travel, and most importantly, in our attitude. Things that were really important to us several years ago have lost their luster and appeal. We have become more conservative, more cognizant about the quality of our day-to-day lives. Relationships with neighbors, friends and family have taken on a new meaning. So how does all this impact the restaurant business? We have noticed the following trends shaping up with both our clients and in our travels to other restaurants in the casual dining segment:

  • The marketplace wants food that is comfortable yet interesting, well prepared and presented (quality) and has a high price/value relationship. The price range that is working well includes items under $10 and the $10-$15 entrees. Over $15 seems to be soft.
  • Guests want “personalized” service. The idea of Recognition & Reassurance is on the upswing. The better operators have never strayed from this way of doing business. Guests seem to return to restaurants that offer R & R to them.
  • Food trends that are on the upswing include steaks, modern Mexican, Asian and sushi.
  • Customers seem to go to places that have a certain minimum level of polish in their decor & environment and merchandising.
  • Well-maintained facilities are a must.
  • Local store marketing is on the upswing.

So, you would ask, how do these trends affect me and my operation? We developed a quick checklist for you.
Here it is:

  • Evaluate all your food & beverage offerings. Grade them on flavor, presentation, texture, wow factor and price/value relationship. Have a tasting board of your key staff members. Plan on spending a couple of hours per session during which you can expect to review about a dozen menu items. Be sure to look at plate ware and tabletop items. Develop a plan for change/evolution.
  • Evaluate your level of service. Do some mystery shoppers. Are you happy and pleased with the results, or do you believe you need to improve? How is your
    R & R quotient? Develop a plan for service training and do it on a regular basis.
  • Do a walk through of your facility. Is it clean and well maintained? It should be. Develop plan to increase maintenance and cleanliness. Be cognizant of your budget.
  • Is your place “contemporary”? When was the last time you “freshened up” the facility? You should do an annual inspection and develop a plan for upgrading.
  • Do you have a marketing plan? If you don’t, you need one. The easiest way to market is to reach out to the people within a 3-mile radius or a 10-15 minute drive. What are you doing to entice the existing clientele to return on a more frequent basis? Develop a plan.

Once you have made some progress on the prioritized items you can move on to the next step, which is to market what you do have.

If you need some help in evaluating what you are doing please contact us.

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