Today's consumers have far more sophisticated taste buds - and higher expectations for restaurant fare - than in the past. Days are gone when diners will keep returning for food that's nothing special. Read an excerpt from Flavor & The Menu magazine that perfectly summarizes this point.
Sometimes we find something that is written so well, it doesn't make sense to try to put it into our own words. That is the case with part of Cathy Holley, Publisher/Editor-in-Chief's Publisher's Page in a recent issue of Flavor & The Menu magazine. So we're just going to repeat it here.
"Limited are the days when a restaurant can get by merely offering ho-hum fare — increasingly, the American consumer has greater expectations of the flavor experience, and if these experiences are not met, customers won't come back. Not only do they want a better flavor experience, but a growing number of customers are looking to have a closer connection with their food. Often, this means they want to be able to customize their flavor options, as in ‘half caf, half decaf, vanilla-mocha latte with skim foam.' Or, they want to know that the chef, bartender or operator has some connection to the menu items he or she is serving. Whether this is communicated through a farm's name on the menu, a personal story told by the server, seeing a bar chef creating a fresh beverage, or, as Starbucks has illustrated, via a friendly barista brewing a customized hot beverage, customers see that if you care about the food or beverage being served, you also care about them. This attention both to your menu offerings and your customers is paramount to success.
"Flavor expectations are being raised in all levels of food service, and in all menu categories. Give your customers a better flavor experience that communicates your connection not only with your food and beverages, but with them, and perhaps one day everyone will want to be the next you."
As we have basically been preaching to the community-based, location-based entertainment industry (see story above), entertainment alone won't drive the repeat attendance it takes to be successful. Only food can do that. You have to be a dining destination to succeed, not some ho-hum snack bar concession stand. And when it comes to what it takes to succeed as a dining destination, what Cathy Holley has said is 100% on target.Post note: Restaurants & Institutions magazine's New American Diner Study found that 47.5% of consumers who frequently eat dinner away from home consider the opportunity to try new and different foods as a primary reason they dine out. David Henkes, a Technomic senior principal, said, "Restaurants that don't provide both comfort food and culinary adventure risk getting a veto vote."