The time is right for restaurants and bars to get back some of the business many have lost during the recession. The days of the frugal American are finally on the wane. “Frugality fatigue” is spreading, and according to USA Today, one of the ways consumers want to splurge is by going out to eat. Restaurant revenues hit $45.9 billion this past April, and in a National Restaurant Association survey, more consumers said they want to eat out more often.
So what's working for restaurants these days? Here are a few trends worth noting:
- Do you do lunch? According to a new study from Visa, the average American consumer eats lunch at restaurants nearly twice a week, spending about $10 per occasion, averaging about $936 per year. Consumers who go out for lunch less frequently tend to spend more when they do go out to lunch. To target frequent lunchers, consider offering value menu items; to cater to the big spenders, make sure your servers know how to upsell items like drinks, appetizers and desserts. Men in the survey ate out more often and spent more than women.
- Eating on the go. Food trucks are still hot; in fact, by 2017 food truck revenues are expected to hit $2.7 billion (four times more than they generated in 2012). Adding a food truck to your business has several benefits: it builds brand awareness for your restaurant, which can bring new customers through the doors; enables you to reach new markets without adding more locations; is a great way to test catering or events; and can be a forum to try out new menu items and see if they're popular.
- Is that kosher? More and more consumers are demanding kosher menu items because of the perceived higher standards and quality of the food. Artisanal, locally sourced food is also hot, so make sure your kosher items fit that bill. At Kosherfest last year, The Huffington Post spotlighted some of the kosher foods on display including kosher pho, kosher bacon and kosher Thai peanut dressing.
- Eat your veggies. With the price of meat rising, chefs are getting creative with vegetarian choices on menus. According to new research by Technomic, the trend has caused a rise in the vegetable dishes offered at restaurants across the country. Technomic's research also shows 90 percent of consumers agree that menu items containing a full serving of vegetables are healthier for them.Try getting creative: Think roasted Brussels sprouts and caramelized root vegetables, plus lots of unusual uses of kale.
Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at [email protected], follow her on Google+ and Twitter.com/Rieva and visit her website, SmallBizDaily.com, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva's free TrendCast reports.