Technomic, a research and consulting firm for the foodservice industry, came out with their latest restaurant industry insights in May. At the same time, Amex Trendex just released their May survey by Morning Consult on restaurant guest expectations for summer. Let’s look at the state of the restaurant industry.
The Summer’s Look at Restaurant Guest Demand
When Morning Consult surveyed 2,000 Americans, they found that over 60% felt that the summer activity they were most excited about was dining out with friends. Good news! When looking at generational preferences, Gen Z and Millennials took the lead, with 30% looking forward to going out to restaurants more often this summer. That number dropped to 22% for Baby Boomers.
Restuarant data also showed that responders are also looking forward to other summer activities, with 70% heading out to concerts, festivals, and sporting events. More good news for triggering before and after activity dining.
The one caveat is the incredible rise in gas prices that recently hit an average of $5 per gallon in the U.S. As a returning Southern California resident, I’m slightly envious. Here, we’re seeing gas prices averaging $6.45. It could, however, be worse, with prices reaching a whopping $7.80 in Alpine County, the highest in the nation.
What does that mean for restaurants? Travel expectations may be lowered, which means it’s more important than ever to draw in the local crowd. Have you visited any of your competitors recently? Now may be the time to see what they’ve been up to.
Collaboration can also help everyone increase local interest. Partnering with local bakeries, cafes, and bars can demonstrate a supportive community, with each business helping promote the other.
Technomic Ignite Consumer data found that the first quarter of 2022 saw an overall drop in restaurant visits. Guests in the middle-income category—homes with annual incomes of $50,000-$100,000—dropped by about 4% in the number ordering from restaurants more than once a week.
Top Chicken Chain Restaurants Show Declining Sales
The top chicken chains continue to see a slow down in sales compared to the incredible growth witnessed last year. KFC’s same-store sales climbed an amazing 14% during the first quarter of 2021. The last quarter saw sales slow to 1%. Wingstop pulled out all the stops with off-premise dining in 2020. While the fourth quarter of 2021 saw same-store sales grow 7.5%, the first quarter of 2022 saw sales drop to 1.2% growth.
Restaurant Trend Predictions
Seeing as there’s nothing like looking ahead, let’s look at the firm’s Q1 2024 menu predictions. A few of the menu items looking to make it big include habanero in the form of dressing and aioli atop burgers, salads, and chicken.
Ancient grains and global spices continue to take the spotlight, including Baharat and millet. Baharat, Arabic for “spice,” is commonly used in Middle Eastern and Greek cuisine. The mixture typically consists of allspice, cardamom, chili peppers, cinnamon, clove, coriander, cumin, nutmeg, and peppercorns.
A Glimpse into Restaurant Beverages
Health and wellness continue to be a growing concern for restaurant guests. This is particularly true in their changing choice of beverages. When Technomic surveyed consumers in 25 countries, they found that 33% wanted fresh brewed tea and coffee, and 29% preferred reduced sugar drinks. Additionally, about 17% want a drink that increases their stamina or energy, and 23% don’t enjoy a drink with artificial ingredients.
Taking Advantage of the Restaurant Data
So, what can restaurant operators do with this data? The first notable is enticing the summer crowd into your establishment. Offer drink, food, and outdoor entertainment summer specials, and then get the word out through social media. Consider participating in large food festivals that can increase brand awareness and help showcase your exciting menu items.
Then, take a look at your beverage and menu selection. Has it changed much since diners have led the charge for healthier alternatives and global flavors?
Our industry continues to shift and evolve from season to season. Staying up with the latest movement can help operators ride the inevitable waves.
How do I maximize my restaurant revenue in the summer?
The summer can be a very profitable time for restaurants, with guests ready to kick their shoes off and celebrate the sunshine with friends and family. Some tips for drawing in the summer crowd include celebrating the summer holidays with special events and pairings, hosting patio parties with games and live music, and partnering with festivals.
What bars do influencers go to?
That’s a good question, and I think I need a book to answer it. A few of the many top-notch drink establishments across the country that draw in the “who’s-who” crowd include The Ivy in Los Angeles, The Aviary in Chicago, and Watr at 1 Rooftop in Miami.
What are the top chicken chain restaurants?
If going by numbers, the top eight chicken chains are all franchises. Franchise Chatter came up with the 20 best chicken franchises of 2022 based on average sales of at least $1 million, average profits of at least $100,000, and an average sales-to-investment ratio of at least 2:1. The top five were KFC, Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, Chick-fil-A, Wingstop, and Church’s Chicken.