Greetings, ladies and gentlemen!
Pavel Gammer is here again.
Today I would like to share some thoughts on interesting changes in food service. While preparing for the opening of the restaurant-cheese dairy “Rae Meierei” in Estonia I explored the trends of the food industry, which are worthy of your attention.
Western restaurant business
The restaurant business is going through a very complicated and interesting stage. Surveys show three main segments: fast food, casual dining and premium dining. These segments are being actively restructured and the boundries between them have become less obvious. There’s been a great struggle for visitors lately. All restaurateurs try to fit customers’ needs, and to do that they reсonsider conventional views on the menu, ways of service and the format of the establishment.
The force of the change is created by two factors: high competition and new preferences among consumers. The first one is caused by the flooded restaurant market and the growth of offers. This is is not a suprise, just basic laws of economics.
But the second factor is quite interesting. It is connected with the global desire for a healthy diet and increasing of gourmet lovers among millenials. Nowadays, people change their nutrition priorities dramatically all around the world, but especially in the US and Western Europe. The consumer rejects high-calorie, fat-saturated and carbohydrate-rich foods. The idea of anti-aging, the principles of healthy eating attract more and more followers. As a result, potential customers are interested in a menu of fresh and healthy products.
The new generation of milleniala tends to get the speed of fast food, to pay moderate prices of the middle segment and to have the quality of the fine dining. And, of course, restaurateurs try to take into account these requests in their projects. No wonder we see the boundaries of segments being blurred, as restaurateurs are leaving traditional ideas in the past.
Let’s see how all this is implemented in each segment.
The concept of fast fine in the premium segment
The main change concerns the service scheme in the premium segment by eliminating waiters. The dish is still cooked by a qualified chef, but the patron orders, receives and delivers it all by himself. Hard to believe? But today’s reality is self-service in the premium segment!
Since the scheme is taken from fast food, the concept is called fast fine. Such innovation allowed to reduce the time and cost of visiting significantly. Assessing the scale of the phenomenon, experts from Nation’s Restaurant News, Mintel, CHD EXPERT and Tech Economic unanimously note the explosive nature of this growth. Most of them express the opinion that the concept of exquisite dishes combined with a convenient order at the counter, along with affordable prices will become a solid part of the fine dining segment.
Innovative Honor Society and Eatsa restaurants are the great examples of this trend (see photos 1 and 2).
Photo 1. The concept of fast fine from Honor Society
The concept of Honor Society focuses on the premium сuisine and the popular design “barn meets loft”. Service is carried out without waiters, which is usual for fast food. Everything else is quite traditional, but certainly can not be said about Eatsa!
Here the client is offered absolutely futuristic forms – terminals, automatic dispensing boxes with touch controls and an alarm system. It already works in California and treats customers with premium-class dishes!
Photo 2. Terminal-menus and delivery boxes in the concept of Eatsa
Putting «Fast» in the casual dining segment
Democratic segment is adopting high-speed service schemes with wild enthusiasm. The model without a waiter is becoming popular here, too. Restaurateurs intensively introduce counters and digital terminals for receiving orders, they master catering and door-to-door delivery. Add the popular loft tendencies in design to this trend and you’ll see the new concept in restaurant business .
In fact, the main distinguishing feature here is only the ingridients and prices in the menu. The casual segment still has a more modest menu and the level of cuisine here is, of course, lower. Nevertheless, fast casual dining restaurants are actively switching to local products and introducing ideas for healthy eating. Such format of the establishment is the most unexpected.
Look at photo 3. This is a restaurant Roister with an open kitchen. It’s recently opened in Chicago and has already become widely known. There you can have direct contact with the chefs, because they work right in the center of the hall. There are no waiters, dishes are ordered at the counter and are received from the chef, the whole cooking process is open, and the client sees it. You have to agree this is very unexpected and superdemocratic solution!
However, despite the democratic nature, the quality of the cuisine in Royster corresponds to the higher segment, the price is also at the premium level ($ 55 for a dinner without alcohol). So the price barrier of high-end cuisine remains the main obstacle to the complete merger of fast casual and fast fine.
This may be for the better, as many experts are convinced that by giving up full service, the higher segment loses something of great value. Most customers also do not consider the counter with a manager or touch screen a good substitute for the waiter. However, full service restaurants aren’t dead yet and quite traditional offers are still in the market.
As for me, I believe that a conventional restaurants with waiters, good music or even a show, will always remain a relevant place for a certain type of people or a lifestyle. However, changes are inevitable, so I’ll keep taking interest in these tendencies. Anyway, customers’ wishes create most of such innovations and restaurateurs need to discern and bring them to life .
I would be happy to know your opinion, so let’s share our thoughts on this trends in the comments.
All the best! Pavel Gammer