RESTAURANT TRENDS: A Rough Year Ahead, A Few Bright Spots

We’re in a bit of a “restaurant recession” as the industry runs into many of the same problems that retail has been dealing with over the last several years i.e. less foot traffic (especially at lunch), bargain hunting, and way too many restaurants.

However, chefs and restaurateurs are an incredibly resourceful and creative lot so here are some of the ways they’re adjusting to the circumstances:

DELIVERIES FROM HIGH-END RESTAURANTS

If you can’t beat them, join them?

Over the last couple of months, a slew of top-notch restaurants e.g. Rebelle have joined Seamless. What would have been unimaginable in the past, is great news for GrubHub, the leader in the app-based delivery industry (and owner of Seamless). Their revenue grew 36% last year and I swear they get $100 a month just from me!

This shift is also evident in a recent study from Restaurant Business Online which shows more than a third of restaurant revenues now comes from takeout.

Read on below for more on new restaurant dayparts (a hit with millennials), wood-burning open ovens and the latest on food halls.

 WOOD-BURNING HEARTHS (Source: Chase)

A major resurgence in open, wood-burning ovens – especially as more chefs look to add smoky flavors to their menu items. Here are 3 places in NYC where I’ve seen them:

  • Ducked Up at Ludlow House: Supposedly, this is the only wood-burning peking duck oven in America (?)
  • Fleek Mills – in Gowanus (photo above), I wrote about them recently, they do their very popular smoked oysters in this oven
  • Pasquale Jones – most of their menu is prepared in their wood-burning oven

 

LEANER MEATS

More bison and duck showing up on menus.

  • Chef Marc Forgione recently mentioned using more ingredients  eaten by Native Americans including buffalo.
  • Foursquare also lists the 13 Best Places for Bison in NYC (primarily burgers).
  • Duck is on the menus of all of the newer French restaurants that opened last year e.g. Le CouCou, Augustine. The duck trend is also being driven by high-end Peking Duck spots like Ducked Up and Decoy. And it will undoubtedly get even hotter when Da Dong opens in NYC later this year. This Beijing-based concept is hailed as one of China’s best roast duck restaurants.

 

FOOD HALLS

New projects are being added at the rate of one per week.

  • Downtown Pittsburgh is about to get its first food hall (Oxford Market)
  • 96 major food hall projects, totaling 2.4M square feet, operated in the United States at  the end of 2016. (Source: Cushman & Wakefield)
  • 28 projects are in the planning stages adding another 908,000 square feet of food hall space through 2019.

 

MILLENNIALS

Per Se is offering millennials 50% off a $325 meal on March 30th

  • The “30-for-30 Dining Experience,” is being promoted as a way to “usher in a new generation of fine diners,” It’s a repeat of an event they did last December.

 

Millennials are forcing chains to create new dayparts.

  • 25% of Taco Bell sales revolve around 2 non-traditional dayparts: 2-5 p.m. and post-midnight
  • The hottest business hours at Taco Bell’s newest Las Vegas strip store is 3–4 a.m
  • Jack in the Box introduced ”Bunchfast” last year as an extension of their breakfast daypart
  • 56% of millennials eat breakfast items 24/7

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