The Restaurant Group Blog

Restaurant Consumer Trends 2017 Mid Year Review

Restaurant Consumer Trends 2017 Mid Year Review

Restaurant Consumer Trends 2017

Now that we’re halfway done with 2017, it’s time to take a look both backward and forward at trends dominating the restaurant industry. Here’s what we’ve noticed is both hot and not in 2017:

Comfort food revival is more important than ever. Consumers are highly interested in modern takes on classic fare. More people are getting back to the “roots” of traditional-style foods, but this doesn’t mean they want Mom’s boring old meatloaf! Farm-to-table is also playing heavily into the equation as today’s consumer is more conscious about their food sources than ever before.

The attention span of your customers is getting shorter than ever. All restaurants want to reach out to their consumers, but your time may be counted in milliseconds rather than actual seconds these days. Rather than relying on email marketing, which is likely to be sent to a spam folder, consider switching customer engagement to text-based communication.

Paying attention to calorie counts is big. More customers than ever are paying attention to calorie counts, and since May 2017 there have been rules requiring that restaurants disclose these counts. Customers are paying attention to these and many do make purchasing decisions based upon estimated caloric daily intake. So make sure that you tell the chefs to not go heavy on the oil!

Healthy kid’s menus. Along with healthier eating for Mom and Dad, healthier eating for Junior is in as well. You’re finding this evidenced in everything from apple slices instead of fries and oranges on the kids’ dessert menu. Just like parents are paying attention to their waistlines, they’re also keeping an eye on their kids’.

Keeping on top of restaurant consumer trends like these is vital to our industry. We like to stay on top of it all – and so should you!

Restaurant Trends 2017

2017 Restaurant Trends

The culinary scene in 2016 was all about matcha, food trucks, and farm-to-table. As the year comes to a close, it’s time to look forward to what your clientele will be asking for in 2017 restaurant trends.

 

2017 Restaurant Trends

Smarter Restaurants

From guest-facing digital ordering systems to takeout platforms catering to busy individuals, many modern restaurants are turning to technology to streamline the guest’s experience. While quick-serve concepts are typically the first to adopt new technology, high-end restaurants are also incorporating technical features to their dining rooms such as tablets and smart watches to keep the restaurant staff informed and operating in real time.

In 2017 expect more than just sandwich shops to utilize digitized custom ordering methods. The trend has already begun to expand to sushi restaurants and other popular lunch and after work venues.

 

2017 Restaurant Trends

Fresher, greener, cleaner ingredients

So many consumers today are concerned with clean eating, the sourcing of ingredients, and impact of their food choices. When selecting a lunch spot or where to place a dinner reservation, guests are more apt to choose an establishment with a clear commitment to the environment or new clean eating trends.

The “better burger” movement is one of the more prominent examples of clean eating coming to the forefront of American dining. From BurgerFi to Elevation Burger, these businesses are placing the importance of great ingredients and thoughtful preparation far ahead of heavy branding and low price points.

For those who are turning away from meat consumption, there are countless new concepts focusing on vegan and vegetarian cuisine. Even fresh juice bars are beginning to replace truck stop style soda fountains in high income areas.

The new year will likely usher in more concepts focusing on the fresher the better with their ingredients and menu planning.

 

2017 Restaurant Trends

Embodying that Homemade Feeling

Whether high end or fast-casual, so many new restaurants are embracing nostalgic and inviting atmospheres. Fine dining restaurants have always been exclusive, but many dining rooms are beginning to feel like an extension of someone’s living room rather than a sea of identical two tops covered in white tablecloths.

Staplehouse, a restaurant in Atlanta has gone as far as creating a unique entrance through a residential garage door in order to make guests feel as though they’re coming over to a friend’s house.

This intimate back to basics of hospitality is not limited to interior design, many kitchens are returning to basic cooking techniques and heirloom recipes to create a transportive and comforting dining experience.

 

2017 Restaurant Trends

Authentic, not brand-centric

It seems gone are the days of reigning restaurant chains complete with souvenir barware and menus designed to follow some sort of theme. Many of the newest and most successful restaurants pride themselves on their simple straight-forward concepts and the transparency of their menus. New restaurateurs and chefs are embracing the idea of doing one thing and doing it better than anyone else.

Ethnic cuisine has been on the rise especially in the last few years as the industry embraces the different backgrounds that make up today’s typical consumer. Coming with this trend to explore ethnic cuisines are millennials captivated by social media and the search for authentic ethnic cooking. With a largely global economy and a well traveled customer base, restaurants offering globally inspired foods need to claim their authenticity and larger established brands touting culturally inspired fare will need to face the music and convince restaurant goers that their offerings are as good if not better than the authentic cooking of a mom and pop startup.

Other ways restaurants are circumnavigating the modern consumers’ distrust of large brand names: combining forces with popular retailers, hotels, and even automotive brands. In 2017 expect to see more established food or restaurant brands partnering with high end retailers to present innovative mixed use retail and foodservice concepts.

 

2017 Restaurant Trends

Eastern Flavor Invasion

The Asian tigers have influenced the consumer economy in more than just apparel, electronics, and cars. These strong economic players and their accompanying dining preferences are now beginning to impact the American restaurant industry. Their numbers are growing each day from Asian inspired fast-casual concepts to elevating Chinese, Thai, Indian, and Japanese cuisine to a starring role in high end dining rooms breaking from their former home in your takeout menu drawer.

In 2017 prepare to see more Asian as well as African flavors being incorporated into menus, grab and go snacks, and even cocktail programs.

Beverage Trends 2017: Coffee

Beverage Trends – Coffee

Beverage Trends Coffee

Are You Offering Fresh Coffee?

Is your drink menu full of only standard options and written in at the bottom of your menu corner? If so, you may want to consider adding in coffee, or a few coffee options, to join the growing market of restaurants that feature coffee as an all-day option and has a growing customer base of people stopping in to get a drink and a snack or to do some work at your tables.

A sort of Starbucks phenomenon is taking place in a wide variety of restaurants. Consumers aren’t always looking for a full sit-down meal or even a meal through the drive-thru window. A lot of the time, especially if your restaurant offers free Wi-Fi or Wi-Fi with purchase, what customers really want as a place to sit down with or swing by for a hot coffee, a cold coffee, or any sort of the numerous customizable drinks that have become increasingly popular. While coffee is still predominantly associated with breakfast and business offices, it is increasingly a universal drink  that can draw in a crowd — especially if you offer novelty, convenience, or both. Customers are looking for hot coffee for their commute, a cold drink for the afternoon, or sometimes even a late-night pick-me-up for when office hours or studying stretch out. Being the local restaurant or the reliable franchise that offers what your customers are looking for consistently can go a long way to not only retaining customer loyalty but bringing in customers looking for a snack or a quick meal, too.

It used to be that drinks accompany a meal. But with new trends, new consumer behavior, and increasing numbers of people working on the go, it’s turning out that everything else may be accompanying the drink. If you are looking to expand or want to further capitalize on this market of busy coffee drinkers, our consultants at TRG can help you devise new business strategies, start an operational analysis, and see where your business can grow now and in the future. Please contact us at TRG Restaurant Consulting if you have any questions or want to talk to a consultant.

Today’s Restaurant Industry

Today’s Restaurant Industry

Ingredient, design, and culinary trends are not new to the restaurant industry, but with today’s rapidly evolving tastes and diners who are quick to share their experiences, chefs and restaurant owners need to be steadily aware of new trends coming into play.

Here are the current movements shaking up today’s restaurant industry:

 

The Right Angle

Today’s Restaurant Industry

Heads up, way up. When it comes to restaurant decor in 2016, so many designers are taking advantage of vertical space and adding interest with the use of hard 45 degree and 90 degree angles. These lines combined with the softness of wood paneling often made from reclaimed materials not only make a space inviting, but also speaks to a restaurant’s eco-friendly commitment.

Tall spaces are not the only ones getting the natural treatment, many interior designers are also bringing in tropical plants and wallpaper with natural textures or patterns to create a warm atmosphere.

 

Thoughtful Menu Planning & Ingredient Sourcing

Today’s Restaurant Industry

Today we are serving some the best informed diners we have ever served in the restaurant industry. That being said, menu planners cannot simply tout a locally sourced menu and not expect to be held to certain standards of sustainability and support of their local food industry. Likely the hottest topic within the realm of ingredient sourcing is the use of locally raised meat, dairy, seafood, and produce. Some of the most successful restaurants embracing this trend have built extremely strong relationships with local growers, ranchers, and fisherman and are very transparent about the origin of every single item on their menu.

Other ways restaurants are adding interest to their menus without sacrificing local ingredients: housemade ice cream, root-to-stem cooking, artisan butchery, house-made pickles, back-to-basics cooking, and curing meats in-house.

 

The Technology of Convenience

Today’s Restaurant Industry

It may be driven by millennials, but food convenience paired with delivery services such as Grub Hub, Ubereats, and Postmates represents one of the fastest growing areas in the foodservice industry. Many young professionals and working parents are the major supporters of these services because they bring well prepared, often nutritious, and fast meals to their doorstep with just a few quick swipes on their smartphone. Settling for rock hard pizza that takes an hour to arrive or waiting for a table with a gaggle of hungry toddlers just isn’t relevant anymore.

Other players in the food convenience arena include food trucks, dinner-in-a-box subscription services, and affordable chef-driven fast-casual restaurant concepts.

 

Working with Dietary Restrictions

Today’s Restaurant Industry

So many chefs and servers dread the question “What do you have that’s gluten-free?”

While it is true that the public’s concern for dietary restrictions has increased over the years, what is starting to change are restaurants’ approach to gluten free, paleo, vegan, and vegetarian dining. So many establishments are confronting the question head on and designing menus and even entire restaurant concepts that address and embrace these different eating patterns.

Some of the most popular trends from 2016 are: offering selections of raw or uncooked vegetable dishes, replacing pasta and white rice for ancient grains, healthy alternatives for kid’s meals, vegetable-centric menus, and milk substitutes made from cashews, hazelnuts, and oats.

 

Seasoned Seasoning

Today’s Restaurant Industry

Restaurants are big on flavor. With all the dietary restrictions circling around and a large demand for unique flavors, so many chefs are turning to spices for more than just heat. Spices, especially ethnically inspired or craft blended, are an ideal way to incorporate new and bold flavors into a dish without the use of animal fat, or excess salt and sugar. One of the more unique trends of 2016 are restaurants developing their own blend of spices to use in various dishes.

While ethnically derived spice blends are heating up in the kitchens, more and more customers are also asking for condiments that in the past have only been found at grocery stores in neighborhoods like K-town or Little Havana. From hot sauces to savory vinegars, expect to see a more eclectic assortment of condiments available at your table.

 

True Ethnic Cuisine

Today’s Restaurant Industry

Along with the never ending search for new flavors comes the quest for your area’s most authentic (insert country’s name here) cuisine. Today’s diners are very interested in trying authentic cuisines without the need for a passport. This trend can be seen with the fleets of food trucks hitting city streets and also in some of the nicest dining rooms around the country.

Vietnamese cuisine, new-Jewish cuisine, homemade Japanese rice balls, and new interest in African cuisine and ingredients have been some of this year’s most apparent trends in ethnic cooking.

 

Waste Not

Today’s Restaurant Industry

Lastly, it’s hard to talk about food whether it’s in the foodservice industry or home consumption without touching upon the topic of food waste. Not only has it been a big conversation leader in 2016, it has also turned into a big winner for business plans in the restaurant industry. Many restaurants cite their commitment to food waste reduction on their menus and equally as many are partaking in the food donation services that are springing up across the United States.

Other popular steps toward reducing food waste include: seasonal farm-to-table menus, smaller portion sizes at smaller price points, and a commitment to nose-to-tail and root-to-stem cooking.

 

5 Great Marketing Ideas for your Restaurant in 2016

Marketing Ideas for your Restaurant

 

Restaurant Marketing

 

As a busy operator making decisions about how to best market your restaurant brand often takes a backseat to the day to day business of running your operation. And, in a marketing world that is constantly evolving, learning the ins and outs of new strategies is difficult. Moreover, figuring out how to deploy them for your restaurant may seem overwhelming and impossible. But, armed with a few new and emerging ideas and some straightforward implementation ideas, restaurant managers and owners can leverage the best of the current marketing trends to raise brand awareness and increase traffic and revenues.

Let’s explore 5 powerful, cutting edge ideas and strategies and how you can put them to work for your restaurant.

 

Get Visual

Visual content in the form of videos, animated GIFS and short-form looping videos such as Vines allow restaurants to engage their target audience in a completely new and interesting way. Restaurants have a unique opportunity to create rich visual content through action videos both in the front of the house and the kitchen and through special events, cooking classes, charity tie-ins and community involvement for example. By promoting their own branded video content on their website and on social media, restaurants can create brand building campaigns that raise awareness and invite customer interaction in ways not possible before.

Email marketing, which remains one of the most effective and cost friendly marketing methods for restaurants, takes on a entirely new dimension with the addition of quality, short animation and video content. Look to an email service such as MailChimp or Constant Contact to make creating robust email campaigns easy.

 

Restaurant Marketing Ideas 1

Get Mobile

The mobile movement isn’t coming. It’s here, and it’s here to stay. In fact, mobile searches surpassed desktop searches well over a year ago (see graph) and searches for local businesses make up the majority.

Consumers are making buying decisions on the go making it especially important for restaurant websites to be mobile-friendly. It’s not enough to just be found when potential customers are looking for a restaurant to visit. You must have a website that offers up the information they are seeking in an easy to navigate, “thumb-friendly” format. Your menu, location, hours and contact information must be easily accessible and your website experience must be seamless and smooth. Make it hard for your online visitors and they will bounce off your site and move on to your competitor.

Mobile websites are easily attainable and a responsive site, meaning one that adapts to the device being used to access it, can accommodate simple and inexpensive online ordering and reservation applications.

 

Restaurant Marketing Ideas 2

Get Content

You’ve no doubt heard the phrase, coined by Microsoft founder Bill Gates, “Content is King” and, without a doubt, it still holds true.

There is no substitute for quality content on your website in optimizing your site for search and reaching your target market. Great content is characterized by its laser focus on specific groups and their interests. It must be original, interesting, informative and easy for your potential restaurant customers to digest. Being well written and free of misspellings and grammatical errors goes without saying.

The time and/or money spent creating or acquiring great content is well worth the investment but savvy marketers are finding new paths to great content by encouraging user generated content on their sites. Content generated by your website visitors or social media followers can come in the form of comments, tweets, images, video clips, reviews, etc. Either way, good quality content is imperative to make a solid mark on the digital landscape.

 

Restaurant Marketing Ideas 3

Get Social

Restaurants that fully engage a social media strategy can connect with their customers in a very direct and personal way. Having a strategy for social media doesn’t mean employing every form. It involves choosing which platforms will be most effective for your brand and utilizing social media as part of a larger marketing strategy for your restaurant.

Each platform offers something unique and has certain attributes that fit with particular brands. Facebook is well suited for restaurants because of its wide appeal and range of features such as photo and video sharing, event creation, reviews, groups, chat and presence technology which allows members to see which contacts are online and, most recently, where they are located.

Creating a page gives you the ability to promote your restaurant through both organic means and affordable paid advertising. Creating events allows you to publicize, invite guests and track those planning to attend.

Live-streaming video through Facebook and other applications such as Periscope and Meerkat is a great way to tap into your audience in a spontaneous and meaningful way. You can use it to share live events in your restaurant or action in the kitchen such as cooking demos for example.

Followers can interact with your brand in a variety of ways and the ability to connect social media to your other marketing efforts exponentially expands your reach.

 

Restaurant Marketing Ideas 4

Get Personal

The days of the anonymous customer are over. Our connected society is digitally engaged in each other and the brands they are interested in. How you interact with your customers must transcend the transaction and enter into the relationship status if you want to create brand ambassadors. Getting to know your customers and what resonates with them is the key to developing an effective marketing strategy for your restaurant.

How do restaurateurs gain an understanding of what motivates their community of customers and personalize marketing to them? By mining information from their POS systems, social media interactions and other data which is now easy to access and understand.

Tools such as Google Trends allow you to access data at a local level in order to understand what’s on the minds of your target market. Google Trends is a dynamic and easy to use platform that will only cost you, as a restaurant operator, a little of your time. From this data you can gain valuable insights to help you chart the course of your marketing months ahead and keep your concept relevant, fresh and on the cutting edge.

In the future personalized, relationship oriented, data-driven marketing will become increasingly important so start thinking about how you will connect with your customers in this way.

 

Restaurant Marketing Ideas 5

Get Going

The marketing world around us is evolving rapidly and while it may seem too complicated to engage and understand the long term success of your restaurant depends on you not just keeping up but getting ahead of it. That being said, you don’t have to recreate the wheel in order get onboard. Chances are by better utilizing the tools you already have and adding in some new and exciting applications you can create a compelling and effective marketing plan. Take some time to add some new ideas and applications to your marketing toolbox and watch your business grow in 2016 .

 

For More Restaurant Marketing Advice Contact TRG Restaurant Consulting.

Menu Development – Increase Your Restaurant Revenue

Increase Your Restaurant Revenue During Off-peak Hours  Menu Development

Snacking is not just for in-between meals – Menu development for the next generation

 

Over the past decade, eating habits are shifting in response to a shift in the American culture and lifestyle. In 2014, Bloomberg did a study that indicated people are spending almost as much money dining out than eating at home. The possibilities for increasing profits may lie in the way people are eating today. The demand for quick, healthy snacks are on the rise among people who like to eat a few small meals a day.

 

Changing Menu Preferences

The Technomic 2016 Snacking Occasions Consumer Trend Report highlights the importance of snacking and reveals some opportunities for restaurants to increase market share in this space by capitalizing on the trends. The report indicates that 60 percent of consumers snack at least twice a day and 37 percent would like more restaurants to offer mini-sandwiches that they can eat as a snack or light meal. These trends had double-digit increases and suggest that restaurants may need to revise their menu development.

Some of the key takeaways of the report are diners want healthy snacks in place of, or to go with full course meals. The trend has rapidly changed as 40 percent of consumers are eating healthier foods between meals, more than they did just two years ago. According to the 37 percent of respondents, if bundled mix-and-match snacks were available, they would order them. These diners are not looking for a typical meal. Proper menu development is critical in this aspect because studies show that 49 percent prefer snacks that are different from breakfast, lunch and dinner fare. 

 

A Transforming Culture And Demographic

Having to conform to a hectic lifestyle, dual income parents and single parents are eating outside of the home at least once a week. Additionally, many parents want to provide healthy snacks for their children in between meals. However, the real “snackies” are the millennials. There are three defining characteristics about this group. They are budget conscious, they want healthy food and eat a few small meals a day and they prefer to eat at off-peak times. As their purchasing power increases, restaurants will have to rethink their menu development in order to capture their business.

In the Technomic 2016 Snacking Occasions Consumer Trend Report, some of the responses by millennials were not that surprising. If available, 44 percent of millennials would order snack delivery from restaurants. Additionally, 54 percent of this group prefer unique flavors and pairings in their healthy snacks.

 

Where The Opportunities Lie

The report also generated some interesting information that has the potential to drive more revenue and increase market share in the snack category. A restaurant consultant can help you with your menu development to capture these missed opportunities.

While 56 percent of snack purchases are planned, 44 percent of people attribute their snacking to an impulse buy. Restaurant consultants can help catch that impulsive buyer with better placement and creative menu design. Leveraging the restaurant consultant’s knowledge can also help restaurateurs take their share of the snack market. With statistics that demonstrate consumer snack buying behavior favoring 77 percent of snack purchases at retail locations and only 23 percent bought snacks at restaurants there is room for growth. Work with a restaurant consultant to develop an atmosphere that grabs some of the 72 percent of people eating their snacks at home.

Learn more about how menu development can help transform your snack business on our TRG consulting service pages.

Resources:

2016 Snacking Occasions Consumer Trend Report [Technomic]

Americans spending on dining out just overtook grocery sales

Food Waste: Problem to profit through menu design

Menu Design

There are plenty of studies that will tell you that anywhere between 30 and 40 percent of the overall food supply in the U.S. ends up in landfills. According to a 2014 study, restaurant sector respondents reported approximately 84 percent of food waste was literally thrown away.

The impact on profit

The report estimates that almost 16 percent of all food waste is generated by the restaurant industry. On average, survey respondents generated 33 pounds of food waste per thousand dollars of company revenue. When you put that into dollars and cents, it adds up to a great deal of lost profit.

The restaurant industry is highly competitive and remaining profitable is the key to existence in this overcrowded marketplace. Food waste can be one of the largest hits to your bottom-line so menu design is an important consideration in determining how much food waste your business will generate.

Investigating the sources of waste

If your business is losing a considerable amount of revenue due to food waste, a restaurant consultant can offer insight into your main problem areas and help you close the gap on profit and loss. They can assist you in improving efficiency and reducing waste in areas such as purchasing, product handling, preparation and storage. Additionally, your production and services areas should be factored in as well.

Restaurant consultants recommend breaking up food waste into two categories, you will be able to see the full picture of where your food waste lies. First, consider the food you waste before it is served to the customer and secondly, consider the food that is left after consumption.

Before consumption waste

If you are wasting food before it gets to the customer, there are several matters you need to investigate. The first one is, are you purchasing too much? You are not saving money buying in bulk if you throw away products that have expired or gone bad. Begin by monitoring the items you are throwing away. Review your invoices and orders and define what you are buying too much of and analyze the vendors you are using.

Another possibility could be the way you are storing your food. Monitor your storage areas by going through your inventory and figuring out the best way for all food to stay fresh and unspoiled. Moreover, examine your food preparation methods and set up. If your prep station is not set up effectively you may be throwing food out due to prep errors.

After consumption waste

Auditing your post-consumption waste can tell you a great deal as well. For example, are people eating the whole portion? If not, reducing the plating size is an obvious choice. Also, things to take into consideration is food presentation including the wasted cardboard, styrofoam and plastic that is being used. This waste also needs to be managed to improve your profitability.

Menu design

After you have assessed your waste, you should reassess your menu design. A restaurant consultant can guide you through the process based on your waste assessment. If you need to either recreate your menu or business model from scratch or make tweaks to it, having a professional direct the process can end up increasing your profitability.

Whether you are a fast casual or full-service restaurant, changing up your menu is the key opportunity to minimize food waste. Deciding what you are serving, storing, preparing and packaging will impact your bottom line and your food waste carbon footprint.

The key to ending food waste is to reduce, reuse and recycle! Learn more about how menu design can help your restaurant reduce food waste on our TRG consulting service pages.

How to Increase Profits with an Operational Analysis 

Operational analysis for restaurants

Restaurant Operational Analysis for Restaurants

 

Let’s face it, the statistics for restaurant failure are not all that encouraging. Various studies indicate that only 10 to 12 percent of restaurants will survive their first five years. Regardless of how you slice and dice the numbers, the restaurant business is a strong and growing part of the economy. According to IBISWorld, industry revenue will grow an annualized 2.5% to $97.8 billion between 2013 and 2018.

Capturing a piece of the market

The reality is that only restaurants that achieve operational excellence will be able to grab a piece of the business market, and conducting an operational assessment will show you where you are losing revenue, as well as the procedures and practices that are hurting your profitability.

Running a profitable restaurant requires operational efficiency. Every aspect of your business from location and services to suppliers, involves constant oversight and an operational analysis. As a restaurateur, there are critical aspects to consider. Whether you are a startup or an established business, you need to begin with defining your goals and then evaluating your strengths and weaknesses.

Know your market

A SWOT analysis helps you determine the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to your business. Most entrepreneurs conduct these frequently to stay competitive in the marketplace. Here is an example of what a restaurant SWOT analysis would look like:

SWOT

Creating long and short-term goals

Restaurant trends, technology and target audiences are changing at a rapid pace. Regardless if you are a startup or an established restaurant, you need to routinely access your business plan by defining long and short-term goals.

An operational analysis provides the restauranteur with an overview of menu choices, location, hours of operation, operational costs, technology and your entire staff performance from front-of-house to back-of-house. This assessment provides a snapshot of where your business stands now and where you will be in the next years. You will be able to proactively and immediately begin to eliminate inefficient practices and expand upon the areas of productivity and revenue generation. 

Location Evaluation

Where your restaurant is situated is probably the most important factor of your business. Does your target audience live or work in the neighborhood? Are you in a high-volume area? Is there a great deal of competition in the vicinity? Can your customers park? Is your space large enough? As the old real estate saying goes, ‘location, location, location’! Diners rarely have time to wait for parking or drive far from their neighborhood. Additionally, being among other restaurants is not the big problem, it’s where the competition is located that can be an issue. Along with location, your hours of operation could be a factor. Can you open early to catch those commuters or can you stay open late for the college students who want to eat later? Choosing a location is often the first step in opening your restaurant, so know the area well.

Review your menu options

Whether your restaurant serves fine dining cuisine or fast casual dining, your menu is one of the driving factors of your success. Knowing your customer’s preferences will help increase traffic to your restaurant and decrease food waste.

Assessing the costs

Monitoring the bottom line on a regular basis is essential to your profitability. Are you buying your supplies from a vendor with high discounts or low prices? Are you getting value using the ingredients that comprise your menu? Is your staffing balanced for low and high-peak hours of operation? Is your rent too high? Finding the things that can reduce your overhead and improve productivity will enable growth and increase revenue.

Front-of-House and Back-of-House Staffing

Your staff can make or break you. In the restaurant business, good customer service is critical to your operation. Ensure your employees not only know what you expect but retraining them constantly and teaching by example is important. Mishaps occur, just remember it is how your staff handles them that will make the difference between a repeat customer and a bad review on Yelp.

An operational analysis is the only thing standing between the restaurant owner and profitability. Learn more about how an operational analysis works by taking a look at our  TRG operational analysis TRG operational analysis service page.

2016 Restaurant Menu Trends

 2016 Restaurant Menu Trends

2016 Restaurant Menu Trends

The restaurant industry is constantly changing. In the competitive world of food service, it’s important to stay well ahead of the year’s industry trends. Menu design for sustainability, interesting new flavors, and convenience are becoming more important to your customers this year. In order to help you stay on trend, we’re bringing you the top 10 restaurant trends for 2016.

 

Locally Sourced Meat and Seafood

Your customers are becoming more and more concerned about where their food comes from. Not only do they want the freshest ingredients, they also want to lower their impact on the environment by making the best choices when it comes to food.

 

Hyper-Local Food

In addition to local meats, customers want to see more local produce on the menu. For many diners, the closer the better when it comes to fruits and vegetables.

 

Fast Casual

Busy diners are flocking to fast casual restaurants, but speed isn’t their only concern. These customers want quality as well as speed, making chef-driven fast casual restaurants a major contender in the foodservice industry for 2016.

 

Convenience

Services such as Amazon and Uber are paving the way for convenience for today’s consumers. Restaurants should tap into this trend by making their food as easy as buying a new book on Amazon or catching a ride with Uber.

 

Clean Menus

Health concerns may cause diners to cook at home rather than dine out, but if your restaurant offers plenty of healthy options you can keep customers coming through the door. A well designed menu can keep your customers coming back for more great, healthy options.

 

Healthier Kids Options

Typical kids’ menus may offer items such as chicken nuggets or macaroni and cheese for picky eaters, but parents are starting to expect more creative and healthier options for their children. This year, you need to think out of the box when it comes to feeding younger guests.

 

Sustainability

Along with locally sourced food, diners want to know that their dinner comes from sustainable sources, especially when it comes to seafood. A well designed menu featuring locally sourced meat, seafood, and produce will attract diners looking to enjoy a great, ethical meal.

 

Spice It Up

Customers aren’t just looking for restaurants to turn up the heat, they are also craving more variety in seasonings and flavors. Fusion options are a great way to add new flavors to your current menu while staying true to your restaurant’s vision.

 

Comfort Foods

Although your customers may be looking for more healthy options in 2016, they also want a good opportunity to indulge in their favorite comfort foods like southern fried chicken and artisan ice cream pairings. A well balanced menu will allow diners to get the best of both worlds, offering comfort food indulgences and healthier options.

 

Food Trucks

Diners are flocking to food trucks that offer convenience and new twists on old classics such as fusion tacos and dessert sandwiches. These roaming restaurants are a great way to extend your business by offering your most popular dishes at events and near office buildings during lunchtime.

 

Staying current with new restaurant trends is essential to competing in the foodservice industry. If you’re ready to jump on one of these trends or take a new direction with your restaurant, contact TRG Restaurant Consulting. Our experienced consultants can help you design the best menu to keep your diners coming back for more.

How Restaurants Can Appeal to Millennials

Restaurants Millennial-01

Millennials are the rising tide of the economy. This demographic, which ranges in age from 18 to 33 make up about one-fourth of the US population and spend approximately $1.3 trillion annually. Many marketers are vying for the attention of this group and for restaurateurs capturing their business is essential as millennials eat out more than any other generational demographic.

Who is the Millennial?

So what is the millennial looking for in a dining experience? To understand how to serve this customer you must understand what the millennial is looking for in a restaurant. There are key characteristics of this demographic that make them more unique than other generations. These customers value the relationship they have with the brand and they have particular needs to meet their lifestyle.

A taste for fast casual

The industry has expended a great deal of resources trying to understand this misunderstood generation. Recent studies indicate that while the restaurant chains fluctuate, categories are consistent; casual dining and fast casual industry establishments. Some of the notable chains in the casual category include Olive Garden, Applebee’s and Chili’s. In the fast casual sector, millennials embrace chains like Chipotle, Panera Bread and Pei Wei Asian Diner. Additionally, fast food franchises such as Subway, Jimmy John’s and Jersey Mikes.

Health Conscious with Customization

The millennial wants fresh, healthy and artisan food. They may occasionally eat at McDonalds, but they consider most fast food as unhealthy. For the millennial, fresh food is healthy food and choice of having it their way is important. As a result, according to a recent Nielsen study, millennials are 74 percent more likely than average to visit Chipotle. The same study indicated that when it comes to fast food, the chain of choice is Subway because it is fresh and inexpensive. The study also concluded that 73% of millennials said they planned to eat at Subway again.

Socially Conscious

In the case of the millennial and brand relationship, the reciprocity principle applies in two areas. This generation is socially aware and they want to patronize companies who give back to the community and to their customers.

Companies such as Panera Bread and Chipotle have programs that donate heavily to good causes. Panera with its Panera Cares® community cafes provides meals to those who can’t afford it. Through this program, the company also partners with other non-profits to offer job training.

The Chipotle Cultivate Foundation donates over a million dollars to non-profits that promote everything from food literacy to improving farming. Some of the organizations receiving money include International Rescue Committee’s New Roots Program, The Kitchen Community the Ecology Center in Orange County. 

Social Media Conscious

The second part of the reciprocity principle applies to social media and brand feedback. Millennials, who are foodies will post their opinions online, with pictures. If the experience is good, you can expect them to sing your praises; a bad experience will be posted as well. As many restauranteurs have learned, Yelp can either boost your business or kill it. The by the Pew Research Center reported that 87 percent of online adults in the US aged 18 to 29 use social media sites. So you can expect that they turn to their friends on social media for recommendations on where to eat.

Technologically Conscious

It goes without saying that the millennial is the most tech-savvy of all generations. According to Nielsen, more than 85 percent of millennials in the US own smartphones. Millennial need to connect to restaurants via their smartphone to make a reservation, place a takeout order or find a promotion or pay online. Additionally, free Wi-Fi for this group is a necessity, not a luxury.

Beside the characteristics listed above, it is also noteworthy to mention, millennials expect value because they can and do use technology to find the best deal. Moreover, these busy people eat on their time schedule. They seek breakfast at lunchtime and enjoy late night dining.

Restaurant chains of all sizes and types are catering to this foodie generation who is the largest group of people who dine out regularly. It is critical to the food industry to understand and embrace this demographic like never before in order to be successful entrepreneurs.

Sources: Nielsen, bcg.perspectives, Food, Drink and Franchise, Pew Research Center

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