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2024RestaurantShow - Disappearing Daypart - Tom Sebok Deborah Von Kutzleben Randy Gier - 1540.jpg Ron Ruggless
At the restaurant show’s “Disappearing Daypart” educational session on Sunday, panelists included, from left: Tom Sebok, managing partner and principal at the New England Consulting Group; Deborah Von Kutzelben, chief marketing officer for Tropical Smoothie Café; and Randy Gier, CEO of NRG Restaurant Group.

Restaurant operators share insights on the disappearing daypart

Breakfast, lunch and dinner no longer typify how consumers use restaurants

The breakfast, lunch, dinner, and late-night are no longer the typical dayparts, operators shared Sunday.

At the National Restaurant Association Show “Disappearing Daypart” educational session on Sunday, Deborah Von Kutzelben, chief marketing officer for Tropical Smoothie Café, Randy Gier, CEO of NRG Restaurant Group; and Tom Sebok, managing partner and principal at the New England Consulting Group, shared their insights into a newer framework, especially as the pandemic recedes.

“The program title doesn't refer to any particular daypart that we see disappearing,” Sebok said, “but rather the overall concept of dayparts as an organizing framework for the business is what we think may be disappearing or at least giving away to newer frameworks.”

Sebok added: “I don't need to tell you been a tumultuous past few years within the restaurant and foodservice business, to say the least ,and while much of the change that we're seeing has been building for decades, I'm sure you'll agree that the pace of change has really accelerated.”

Technologies have also shaped consumer expectations, he said, with influences coming from Walmart, Amazon and Google

“It has trained the consumer to expect a certain degree of immediacy, a certain degree of intimacy, that has kind of raised the bar for all of us,” Sebok said.

Gier said operators can understand the patterns by overlaying machine learning and artificial intelligence, leading to “powerful” ability to serve the customers the right message at the right time.

Von Kutzelben said, for example, customers who ordered a watermelon limited time offer last year can be reminded when it comes to market this year.

Another operational acceleration has been the introduction of third-party delivery marketplaces to the foodservice segment, Von Kutzelben added.

“I think we leveraged that and leaped into it as an organization,” she said, “because we're finding we're actually introducing ourselves to a lot of new guests, people have never even come into the cafe that are finding us on DoorDash or Uber Eats.” That requires a company to be nimble, Von Kutzelben said.

“People come to us because they want a healthier choice,” she said “So things on our menu need to reflect that. It doesn't mean every single thing is going to be a huge mover. We have to have signals on our menu that indicate to the guests that this is a really healthy place to eat even if they don't buy it a lot.”

Gier cited Casey’s, which has nearly 2,500 convenience stores, in the Midwest, for its by-the slice pizza offerings.

“They start from convenience,” he said. “They're 24/7 convenience. And they're coming at this like a restaurant though. They have fresh dough in house and using 100% mozzarella.”

Restaurants has having to serve “great quality food” and “figure out how to get it to people on their terms,” Gier said.

Gier added that recent surveys indicate 61% of consumers eat meals outside typical meal times, which he called “meal outsiders.”

Successful operators will find ways to meet those consumers where they are buying their food, he added.

Sebok, the panel moderator, summed up the session’s takeaways:

  • Invest in understanding the consumer, their wants, needs, passions, aspirations and expectations and adapt to what you learn.
  • Innovate new experiences.
  • Build a resilient mindset into operations.
  • Experiment constantly.

Contact Ron Ruggless at [email protected]

Follow him on X/Twitter: @RonRuggless

TAGS: Marketing
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