RESTAURANTS are fast becoming consumers’ emotional connecting
point as online and click-and-collect retail cannot meet the insatiable need to indulge,
be with friends, and just plain live. And restaurateurs must evolve to remain relevant.
Catering to consumers
A major driving force has been Millennials’ want of better, different, and unique.
They spend substantially more time and dollars eating away from home than their
predecessors, and they aren’t eating what their parents ate. With unique experiences
comes trial and discovery of flavor, spices, textures, and all-out indulgence.
More than good food is
required to impress an increasingly demanding and well-informed restaurant guest. In
the past 10 years, menu strategies have shifted from preset
“wrap it and bag it” to “
load-it-up customization” to “
chef-inspired, recipe-driven meals”
with an ingredients story that is
longer than most literary short
stories. Food bloggers are fast
becoming an industry of their
own, and ignoring the pull of the
followers that these connected
customers have is almost assuredly a path to failure. Knowledge of the origins of the food,
and the nature of its processing and handling, are now an
Brands that want to maintain
their position must design an
approach that clearly differenti-
ates them. They need an expe-
rience that attracts consumers and a vibe that is “Instagrammable.” Restaurants do
not need reclaimed wood, Edison lamps, blackened metal, or tattooed servers to be
authentic. Most likely, half of the competition has already succumbed to these details.
Cooking up tasteful upgrades
Design of the various food-service models is evolving to meet the new demands.
In the past, the foodservice categories were clearly defined: quick-serve restaurants
(QSR), casual dining, bar/pub, and fine dining. Each category provided a tailored
experience to its clientele. Today, savvy restaurateurs in these categories have either
elevated expectations or created approachable moments that entice. To capture
A DESIGNER DISHES
BY ERIC BOULDEN
ABOVE and NEXT PAGE: Roman Zamen
brings the Middle East to Mississauga,
Ont., Canada, with architectural
references such as three types of
arches, textural detail, and linear
stripes of stone on the walls.
!thought leader viewpoint