Posts Tagged ‘healthy’

What Today’s Consumer Wants to See in a Restaurant

January 1, 2013

As consumers become more conscientious about their costs, their health, and their sources of food, restaurants have to adapt accordingly or suffer the consequences. Today’s consumer expects far more from restaurants in terms of quality and value as compared to earlier eras. While a desire for lower cost remains the number one area where consumers would like to see improvements in restaurants, there are several other features today’s customer looks for in a dining establishment.

Greater Variety of Healthier Items

As understanding of how diet affects lifestyle grows, people are naturally looking for healthier ways to eat, and this includes the selections they make when eating out. As a restaurant there are several easy ways to accommodate this desire. Start by adding a section to your menu which features healthy items and provide some information about what makes it healthy (under X calories, heart smart, low-carb, etc.).  It can be difficult to know what to eat when you’re trying to change your diet, and customers really appreciate being able to choose from a ready-made list of options.

Another way to accommodate the healthy aspirations of your customers is to allow healthier substitutions for menu items – salad instead of fries, wheat or wholegrain bread instead of white, steamed vegetables instead of mashed potatoes – you get the idea. If you can do this without having to charge the customer for it, all the better.

Smaller Portions, Higher Quality Food and Ingredients

The next two areas that consumers would like to see restaurants improve have to do with the quality of the foods, ingredients used, and the ability to have the option for smaller portions. While the desire to have higher quality food and ingredients could be a result of the general move toward healthier eating we just discussed, it also has to do with the desire to experience a higher quality meal than what one might cook at home.

Higher quality food is generally also higher in nutrient value, which further appeals to the healthy eating crowd. Plus, customers are generally willing to pay more for a meal if they know that what they are getting is of high quality.

The ability to choose smaller portion sizes is another common area consumers would like to see restaurants improve. Fortunately, this one is fairly easy to implement (it’s no more difficult to load a plate with two scoops of pasta than it is three and charge less accordingly), and the customer responds well to having this choice available.

More Locally Sourced and Local Food Options

Featuring local food options is always well received, even more so if those options were cooked using locally sourced ingredients. Getting your produce locally is an excellent way to reduce the cost of transport and support the local community while offering fresher goods. People’s environmental conscientiousness has risen in tandem with their awareness of healthier choices, and taking a ‘local approach’ can be a powerful way to appeal to this consciousness.

While some of these changes will take some effort, others can be implemented today with little or no cost. With consumers eating out less and being more deliberate in their choices when they do, recognizing and adapting to their changing needs is critical to your restaurant’s success.

Kids’ Menus Start to Get a Little Healthier

January 5, 2011

We’ve written in this space on numerous occasions about the need to offer kid-friendly food that is also considered to be a healthier, lower calorie choice. The First Lady has been pushing the concept for school lunches and a number of parents, especially those who have higher levels of education have been demanding this for some time.

Changing the Menu Options on Kids’ Menus

Well, it seems that at least a few smaller restaurant chains have taken our advice to heart and are now offering revamped kids’ menus that offer kids the chance to eat healthy while still being kids.

Toronto-based Freshii Offers Healthy Kids’ Options

Freshii, a 31-restaurant chain based in Toronto was the latest to offer such a new menu, starting with a chicken quesadilla for $3.99. The sandwich is offered in honey wheat pita bread and a second option, offering fresh fruits, light cream cheese and granola is offered in a whole wheat tortilla for $3.99.

Other options on the new kids’ menu include a chicken teriyaki meal with broccoli, carrots, mushrooms and teriyaki sauce served on a bed of brown rice or rice noodles for $5.99 and a chicken noodle soup served with tomatoes and cheese for $5.99. Or, kids can also choose to create their own salad using up to four toppings and dressings for $4.99.

Austin-based Carino’s Italian Takes the Kid Menu Initiative

Another restaurant which took the low calorie kids’ menu plunge was Carino’s Italian, based in Austin, Texas. Each of the their $4.79 kids’ menu options has less than 500 calories and kids can choose from pizza pasta (spaghetti with tomato sauce and grilled chicken, pepperoni and mozzarella), chicken and broccoli with penne and Alfredo sauce, a Panini made of turkey and mozzarella, which is served with a side of mandarin oranges. Kids can also choose a plain grilled cheese Panini and grilled chicken with spaghetti and tomato sauce or Italian veggies.