Man, the restaurant industry is never boring. Here are five things that I’ve been thinking about.
1. Millennials are growing up.
I know, it’s fun to bash Millennials. The avocado toast and the everybody deserves a trophy mentality. I get it, I do. But today’s Millennials, now roughly age 23 to 38, aren’t disaffected youth living in their parents’ basements anymore. They are professionals and parents. They’ve grown up.
And since one of the most endearing things about Millennials is how much they care about food, it’s only natural then, that they want to share their food passion with their offspring.
See our story on Millennial parents — and why chicken nuggets aren’t enough of a kid’s menu.
2. The balance between efficiency and hospitality
You might think it’s counterintuitive for us run a column “Forget the robots: It’s still a people business” and an article on “Building a smarter kitchen,” but it’s not. The smartest restaurants know when to leverage automation and when the human touch really makes a difference.
3. Nuanced global cuisine
We say the world is getting smaller with technology, but I think it’s actually getting bigger — and in the best way. Before American consumers saw Italian food as Italian food and Thai food as Thai food. But now you see places like Eataly highlighting foods by region of Italy. You can pair your Calabrian wine with Calabrian peppers.
NRN’s food editor Bret Thorn talks about the “magic” of northern Thai cuisine with chef Hong Thaimee.
4. Emerging brands shaped by communities
Restaurants are also leaning in to the regional differences in food within the United States. I hear more and more that franchisees have room to add regional specialties to the menu. And emerging chains are building community into the business model. For instance, Jacksonville, Fla.-based Maple Street Biscuit Co. doesn’t even use the term “store managers” and instead calls them “community leaders,” going as far as customizing the coffee mugs to each location. Read more about three regional brands here.
5. NRN coming to a city near you
In March we held a cocktail reception celebrating the NRN 2019 Power List in Dallas, bringing together 150 industry influencers. (Check out the highlights in this slideshow.) It was wonderful to talk to the executives on the Power List and to many people who are passionate about our industry.
I encourage you to come out and join us next time.
Stay tuned for a reception in Chicago in May and make sure you register at MUFSO.com to attend our conference in Denver in October.
See you there.
Jenna Telesca is the editor-in-chief of Nation's Restaurant News and has studied the restaurant industry for over a decade.