Posts Tagged ‘local food’

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.

The Locally Sourced Food Craze is Also Good for Business

October 10, 2010

Locally produced food doesn’t just taste better (since it needs less preservatives to keep it fresh). It’s also good business because customers love seeing restaurants that make an effort to go green while at the same time providing them with top quality food on the menu.

The Stumbling Block to Local Food Sourcing

The trouble of course with local sourcing is the fact that in many cases it’s simply not practical. If you’re running a sushi restaurant for instance, you simply have to have to certain species of fish available and you simply must have Japanese rice available. That’s fine if you happen to be located in a state where these things are produced, but if you’re not, it’s just not going to happen.

And frankly, for most businesses today, working exclusively with locally produced food is simply not an option. Can you imagine the chaos that would ensue if the thousands of restaurants in New York City all decided that everything they use had to be produced within 100 miles of their location?

There is no way there is enough farm land to support that amount of food production in the area, never mind any logistical issues about certain foods simply not being suited to grow in the cold of New York State.

But It’s Not an All-or-Nothing Proposition

However, just because going local for your food production may not be practical for everything doesn’t mean it’s not practical for anything. Many, many paper products today for example have stepped on the green wagon by proclaiming that they incorporate recycled paper.

The fact that they may only incorporate 20% recycled paper does not make their advertising any less effective. They will mention this, but at the same time, people who are conscientious will know that the company they are buying their toilet paper from is doing something for the environment, providing that warm and fuzzy feeling that’s so necessary in business.

How Can Your Restaurant “Go Local”?

What it really takes to begin a “go local” campaign then is a simple decision to do it. You can advertise that your restaurant makes every effort to locally source products rather than having to bring in food with preservatives which also pollute the environment.

Even if you are only able to source a handful of your ingredients on a local level, the difference it will make could be profound both to your customers. They can dine at your establishment and feel good about where they choose to eat out–something you’ll enjoy as well!