Brands such as TGI Fridays, Ruby Tuesday, and Applebee’s have faced sales slumps and dozens of restaurant closures, as casual-dining chains have struggled to attract customers and increase sales.
More convenient chains have also drawn millennial customers away from casual-dining options.
The growth of fast-casual chains such as Chipotle and Panera have been especially harmful. These chains can offer lower prices to millennial customers, who are less enthused about spending more money just for the experience of sitting in a booth at a casual-dining joint.
The fast-casual industry grew by 550% from 1999 to 2014, The Washington Post reported. By 2020, the fast-casual market in the US is expected to reach $66.9 billion, according to the market-research company Technavio.
There’s one place where it’s unlikely your order will be taken by a device: fine dining restaurants.
Whenever you eat anyplace more expensive than a fast casual restaurant, waiters and waitresses routinely jot down your order on a piece of paper, or commit it to memory.
They may then enter it at an electronic keypad to send it to the kitchen, but by then, you’re back to conversing with colleagues or looking at your own mobile phone.
The reason for sticking to tradition is simple, says Alex Susskind, an associate professor of food and beverage management at Cornell University. Expensive restaurants see the connection between server and diner as a personal one. Introducing a mobile device into that relationship would break an important bond.
“When you go to an upscale restaurant, you’re used to spending a lot of money. You want people to take care of you. You look forward to being taken care of,” Susskind says. “I say this jokingly: computers and technology haven’t found a way to take care of people at the human level yet.”
From what we saw recently at the recent National Restaurant Association Trade Show in Chicago the future of eating and drinking means a faster and more convenient experience for the customer.
Learn how restaurants are adding xtraCHEF’s technology to their operations here.
Over the past decade, restaurants, bars and nightclubs have become a major part of our business.
More bar/restaurant owners are familiar with integrated controls and automated systems, but they don’t fully understand their potential.
Being mindful of these growing trends can help integrators grow and succeed in the restaurants and bars vertical.
1. Clients Will Pay for Something Unique
2. If You Build It, They Will Come
3. There’s Never Enough Time
4. They Want User-Friendly Controls But …
5. You Have to Cast a Wide Net
What are those people eating?
Bugs? Each other?
If the world’s leading food scientists have any say in the matter, not only will we be eating pretty well, but we can avert at least some of the risks of a fallen planet in the first place, like those associated with climate change. But we have to embrace clean and plant-based meats to do it (the alternatives were bugs and other people, so easy, yes?)
“Now, it’s about saving the world,” says Emily Byrd, senior communications specialist at the Good Food Institute.
The quality and variety of food in the U.S. has never been better. The business seems to be struggling. What’s really going on?
Restaurants are such a revitalizing force in urban life that a fine meal now carries a sacred profundity. “Food has replaced music at the heart of the cultural conversation,” wrote Eugene Wei, a technologist and writer who is currently the head of video at Oculus, in a 2015 essay. “It’s hard to think of any sphere of American life where the selection and quality have improved so much as food,” the economist Tyler Cowen, who moonlights as a food blogger, wrote this year. For the first time in US history, Americans are spending more money dining out than in grocery stores.
What the heck is going on? How can the United States be going through a restaurant renaissance and a restaurant recession at the same time? In the last few weeks, I’ve spoken with almost a dozen restaurateurs and analysts about the state of the industry. Here are four theories.
1. The good news is there are too many great restaurants to choose from. The bad news is … the same thing.
2. The middle class of restaurants is really struggling … unless they specialize in breakfast.
3. Takeout is taking over.
4. It’s ultimately about rich city-dwellers—especially in California.
Yes, there’s a world where people pay almost $50 a pound for tiny lettuces. They assemble religiously in the crowded northwest corner of Manhattan’s Union Square Greenmarket, where the eerily perfect Windfall Farms stall appears on Saturdays and Wednesdays. While some stands radiate a hippie-casual vibe, at Windfall the exquisite, vibrantly colored vegetables are treated with the care one sees in a Madison Avenue boutique. Signs caution customers against touching the greens, because they’ve already been hand-washed several times.
That care, systematic throughout the life cycle of these little lettuces, doesn’t come cheap. Most of the baby greens—the baby mesclun mix, the wasabi-like green wave mustard—cost $12 for 4 ounces, or $48 a pound. Red amaranth sprouts are the priciest, at $64 a pound.
Do you know how much you are paying for your leafy greens?
Learn how to track this at xtraCHEF.
A snapshot of the current restaurant industry provides some clues:
The bulk of that growth in limited service rests on the back of fast-casual restaurants, which posted 9.1% gains in 2016, according to Technomic. (In contrast, traditional fast food reported just 3.9% growth in the same period.) Technomic is forecasting a return to double digit growth for fast casual in the coming year.
Beyond the obvious broad customer appeal, what are some of the other shared characteristics of these fast-growing restaurant concepts?
1. Strong unit economics. It’s easy for restaurants to grab headlines for opening new units, but simply opening new stores doesn’t count for much if each one isn’t high-performing.
2. An investment in technology. Today’s consumers expect online ordering, mobile apps and convenient takeout and delivery options.
3. A successful restaurant needs to stand out from the crowded pack with signature menu offerings, craveable items and quality ingredients. An engaging backstory and clear brand mission also help carve a place in the industry.
4. Deep pockets. It’s a no-brainer why emerging restaurant concepts seek out funding from investors. Capital, preferable from a variety of sources, is essential for sustained growth. The most successful brands will win that funding.
Ten years ago, in 2007, technology was just starting to integrate into the food and beverage marketplace. Quick Service Restaurants began rolling out websites, menus were made available online, and customers could post reviews of their experiences. Fast forward to 2017, and the situation is very different.
Right now, technology and the QSR industry are at a crossroads. As we look ten years to the future, there is no denying that technology will continue to play a pivotal role in the industry’s evolution. Traditional commerce and retail are changing. Virtual channels like Uber and Expedia have been selling the same product for several years. Now, aggregators like Just Eat and Grub Hub are catching up. Brick and mortar locations must do the same. From a consumer perspective, the realization is that technology is already impacting the way they complete a transaction, but how much bigger of a role will it play ten years out? That is an answer that only time will be able to tell.
The crab dish is actually priced lower than a 25 percent food cost would dictate. Centeno’s cost is $8 per crab — which, he says, is almost double what it was last year. He explained the pricing of the dish as follows:
There’s a little bit of wiggle room to go up or down based on general pricing on the rest of the menu, but the goal is to have it level out to 25%. So a dish with a little lower raw cost may be costed at 23% so that something like soft shell can be costed at 28%.
3.6 x $8 (item cost)=$28.80 (28% foodcost)
So normally my formula would be:
3.6 x $10 ($8+our cost for the remainder of ingredients on the plate) = $36 (guest price)
I knew $36 was not gonna go over well, and that I had to stay in the 27%-28% range and price it at $32.
But they are delicious and people seem OK with price. They would be much cheaper if I bought frozen, but for me it’s about the ingredient’s quality, so what’s the point then? It’s always about balancing portions and plating to be able to use the best ingredients without breaking the guest’s wallet. Which is becoming more and more difficult.
Do you know how much your signature dish costs? Reach out here to find out more.