Comfort food resonates for a myriad of reasons. Restaurant comfort food must perpetually evolve, implementing small adaptations, to tug at the heartstrings of nostalgic appetites. You have two approaches.
1) Modernize selected existing comfort menu items with a global flair.
2) Craft selected existing menu items into more comforting offerings.
Flavorful heat fires up a menu and your sales. Heat (with flavor vs. heat for heat sake) is an enticing purchasing cue for consumers & should be an integral part of your culinary arsenal. Navigate the array of regional & global heat possibilities, using fusion without confusion. Simple, culinary execution is always a better deliverable.
Competition for the coveted food dollar is ultra competitive, to say the least. The traditional competitive set is easy to spot - other restaurants and hotels. Look deeper and you will discover that grocery stores, retail shops and online food delivery formats are nibbling (maybe even chomping) away at your revenue streams. The first step in developing a counter plan of action is to recognize the problem… then craft your strategic response.
Values seem to be trumping value. It may start to become not good enough that you support and source local, you tout your best sustainable practices and you have an on-site garden. The values inherent to your operation and your "reason to be" need to shine, connect AND evolve – as there will always be the "what's next mentality" from the discerning younger generation of consumers. Your wellness approach needs to be holistic in nature.
Consumers cook at home foods they are familiar with (even when expanding their skillset)… however; they look to restaurants to provide what they cannot replicate or the "unknown". Capitalize on this mindset.
The snacking revolution has shined light on how we have stopped counting meal periods and now, simply stated - are noshing throughout the day/night; more akin of a lifestyle eating approach. This "no borders" eating shift has virtually set our daily food clocks to zero. The operator opportunity lives in re-thinking your take on standardized meal periods.
Cheers to an innovative & prosperous 2016!
Chef Rob Corliss
RFEC Trends Chairman