Emerging Concepts

Consumer Trends and Their Favorite Restaurants

A new report from Technomic Ignite Consumer, as reported by Nation’s Restaurant News, revealed the latest consumer trends and their favorite chains in America. Go ahead, guess. 

Did you guess Ruth’s Chris Steak House? No? Neither did I. How about Seasons 52 or Dutch Bros? Maybe? I’ll bet Starbucks is rounding up the posse. The fourth contender was Fleming’s Prime. With two of the top four falling into the Darden family, you have to wonder if their loyalty program played a part. Oh, wait, they don’t have a loyalty program.

Another consumer trend that doesn’t come as a surprise is eatertainment. Restaurant Dive reported on the recent ICR Conference in Orlando. Executives from Puttshack and Pinstripes were both there to discuss the strong demand.

Let’s explore the brands hitting it out of the park and what makes them so popular among today’s consumers. 

Ruth’s Chris 

Technomic’s data included consumers’ scores on service, appearance and ambiance, convenience and takeout, food and beverage, and value. Ruth’s Chris scored the highest in service. As a brand known for its exceptional service, that came as no surprise. They also scored the highest in appearance ambiance, and food and beverage. The only categories they didn’t take, although they came in second, were convenience takeout, and value. The leader of the pack in those spaces was Dutch Bros.

America’s favorite chain was born in 1965 in New Orleans. Ruth Fertel mortgaged her home to buy a steakhouse and then went on to develop the well-known 1,800-degree broiler and the 500-degree plates on which their USDA Prime steaks are served. In June 2023, Darden Restaurants acquired Ruth’s Hospitality Group for $715 million. The brand has 155 locations around the world.

What about Ruth’s Chris Steak House makes it the top contender? If you ask them, it’s all about consistency and staying true to their brand. For almost 60 years, they’ve delivered “perfect steaks, warm hospitality, and good times that never stop rolling. Here is why so many people say we consistently deliver one of the best dining experiences in the world.”

Puttshack and Pinstripes

These two powerhouses in the eatertainment sector showed up at the ICR Conference to discuss how they’ve benefited from post-pandemic consumer trends.

Pinstripes began over a decade ago and has also stayed true to its roots: signature service, face-to-face gaming, and made-from-scratch dining. In 2007, they opened their first location in Northbrook, IL. This was followed by a new one, or more, almost yearly. Dale Schwartz is the founder and CEO of this bowling and bocce venue. 

Today, they have 15 locations and plan to make that grow to 23 by year’s end. Their average unit volume comes to about $8.6 million, and, while a gaming concept, a majority of their revenue comes from food.

Puttshack is the combined effort of Adam Breeden (Flight Club, F1 Arcade, AceBounce, and All-Star Lanes) and Steven and Dave Jolliffe (Topgolf). Using modern technology and a patented self-scoring Trackaball that enables golf balls to keep track of the score, they’ve all but cornered the minigolf eatertainment market. 

They report an average unit volume of about $12 million, with much of their revenue driven by gaming and alcohol. Puttshack currently has 20 locations in the U.S. operating or opening soon, and four in the United Kingdom. 

An Experience

So, what do all these restaurants have in common? They all provide an exceptional experience. Ruth’s Chris demonstrates you don’t have to have a social gaming concept to deliver an experience people remember. Puttshack and Pinstripes reveal the incredible success one can garner in the eatertainment world. Consistency is the other key to success that’s clearly apparent in these brands.

Helping Brands Expand

At Emerging Concepts, we’re excited to be a part of Puttshack’s expansion plans, helping them find ideal and lucrative locations across the country. As real estate experts and data analysts, we evaluate real estate opportunities and negotiate with developers and landlords on our client’s behalf. The outcome? Maximize returns and minimize risks. To learn more about working with our team or to schedule a consultation, contact EMERGING.

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