11 New Restaurant Concepts...
...Reimagining Fast Food & Casual Dining
July 17, 2018 cbinsights
Friendly's went bankrupt, and Subway is closing 500+ locations. But even as fast food and casual dining stalwarts struggle, people haven't stopped eating out — in fact, they're spending more at restaurants and bars than ever. Where they choose to go, though, is fundamentally shifting.
Brick-and-mortar businesses have been hammered over the past decade — with the exception of one bright spot.
But it’s not your parents’ fast food and casual dining chains that are seeing the upside. Instead, new millennial-inspired and tech-infused dining trends have been emerging across the US and internationally.
Fast food and casual dining aren’t going away — but they are fundamentally changing.
“Fast food” is no longer just greasy burgers and fries. It’s a perfect espresso shot pulled in record time by a fully robotic barista. It’s a stand-up omakase meal at a sushi kiosk.
And “casual dining” is a far cry from a family meal at Applebee’s. It might mean a night out with friends at a food hall that doubles as an event space, or visiting a restaurant that has meals for you and your dog.
From matcha kelp noodles at the vegan fast casual By Chloe, to wild ferments at kombucha taproom Cultured South, the way we eat in America (and around the world) is changing.
The old guard of American dining is switching up their games to compete:
- McDonald’s is adding self-serve kiosks to many of its franchises, upping the ante with mobile order technology.
- Domino’s is taking things even further, incorporating artificial intelligence to make sure its pizza toppings are perfectly distributed. Not to mention piloting autonomous pizza making and delivery.
As more customers expect on-demand ordering, big players have struck deals with startups like UberEATS and GrubHub to ensure greater reach and retain existing customers.
New restaurant concepts are redefining how we think about food, pushing established brands to reinvent themselves, spurring entrepreneurs to be creative with visual platforms like Instagram and recipes like pea-based protein, and paving a new way forward for the idea of casual dining itself.
It’s a new way that’s overdue.
Last year, Friendly’s, Bennigan’s, Logan’s Roadhouse and Joe’s Crab Shack all filed for bankruptcy. This year, Subway plans to close more than 500 locations.
Many of yesterday’s casual dining brands are dying, but not because millennials “don’t eat out.” Americans dine out more than ever before. In 2017, the National Restaurant Association reported annual sales of $799B — close to 48% of the total amount that Americans spent on food.
That’s not a new development. In the past decade, restaurant and bar purchases have grown at twice the rate of general retail spending. Market share is simply shifting away from big chains that haven’t successfully innovated, flowing instead to new models for creating and selling food to customers.
Many of these models target millennials, who now make up the majority of the workforce in the United States, while others (like Tesla’s Supercharger Drive-In) cut across generations to target all types of affluent customers. Still others simply offer new opportunities for restaurateurs.
See the 11 new restaurant concepts here: