Last week, we released our Top Trends 2015 report
, offering up our best predictions on what will most effect the restaurant industry and where individual restaurants might be heading to keep up. Above all, our restaurant consultants agree that Millennials are the key driving forces behind most industry changes and choices in the coming year. The 20s and 30s crowd continues to grow their interest in design and food, so much so that good design and good food will often be judged as par-for-the course. It is expected. What restaurant owners and chefs will need to look out for is being named "bad."
In that vein, our restaurant consultants have ranked the top three ways to attract and satisfy the Millennial crowd so that your restaurant will find success in 2015.
1. The Look
Your aesthetic is number one. Maybe this seems counterintuitive--you expect your food to speak more than your decor. But the fact is, if a young person wants a dive, they'll seek out a dive. When they enter a restaurant, they don't just want to be fed, they want an experience. The decor should be something to discuss while the diners are waiting for their food. But not in a gaudy way! This generation prides itself in a return to the classic and the simple. Popular restaurants are boasting clean lines, subway tile, monochromatic palettes, and minimalistic tones. Occasionally, a nod to the rustic makes a splash as well, but only in an understated way; think, a raw walnut bar with industrial barstools against all white walls. Your restaurant environment should tell your young diners that you have style, but in a carefree sort of way.
2. The Food
Now this part makes sense. In order to avoid being a bad restaurant, you have to make good food. Our restaurant consultants are noticing the return of New American dining, with lots of comfort food options gracing menus across the country. This is on-point with the Millennial return to roots; however, the younger crowd also carries the expectation for healthy food. Find a way to make the classics beneficial to the body. Organic products, vegetable (and vegetarian) options, alternatives to milk and meat choices will all be important to this very influential group of patrons.
3. The Catch
If your guests are comfortable in the environment you've created and you've fed them well, then you've steered clear of being a "bad" restaurant. So how do you move from unnoticeably good to something the young people start talking about? Make sure you have a catch. You need something that makes you uniquely you. Perhaps you locally-source 90% of your food--even better if it's from an urban farm. Maybe you only serve so many dishes per day, encouraging a line out the door for a chance to taste that day's menu. Perhaps your star bartender has engineered a must-try cocktail. Whatever it is, create a selling point that stands out from the rest of your aesthetic and menu so that it leaves people talking after they've gone.
A close runner-up to these top three points will be integration of technology and social media. This will be crucial in keeping your guests talking and getting their friends to check you out once they've heard your name. "Check-ins" are becoming much less important (Foursquare, Facebook) and younger people are leaning toward visual and interactive options (Twitter still holding it's own for two-way communication, Yelp for reviews, Instagram to further showcase your "carefree style.")
Want more help in 2015 to cater to the right crowd? Our restaurant consultants offer full business and menu analysis and can help you start a new restaurant or turn a failing restaurant around with step-by-step assistance. Contact us