Hello there. I promise to be concise, even brief, with my thoughts today, since you all were so accommodating about my longwindedness on Wednesday. So anyway, here I am, coffee in hand, to bring you my latest thoughts on the most recent things I’ve read and pondered in the food service world. Today?—’Merican food.
If you pay a lot of attention to a certain kind of food-obsessed consumer—one who watches competitive cooking programs on television, who goes out to obscure new restaurants with friends to experiment with exotic, unpronounceable foods—you might think that the only way to be successful in the restaurant business circa 2012 is to serve unusual fusion or ethnic cuisines. Recent statistics, however, prove this not to be true. (They also suggest that the “fast casual” restaurant model is on the upswing, but that’s a topic for another day.)
According to a July 2012 article by Mindy Armstrong on the website FastCasual.com, the truth is as simple as this: “Americans like to eat American cuisine.” In fact, American cuisine has more than double the number of menu items found in restaurants compared to its closest competitor, Italian food. Of course, with every consumer convinced he or she has become a connoisseur of world foods since the advent of television programming, “American cuisine” isn’t quite as simple as it maybe once was. Gone are the days of boiled hot dogs and well-done burgers (though “burgers,” as one might guess, still stand strong the very top of desired menu items). Now, with people more adventurous and interested than ever, American food has expanded to include regional cuisine; if you serve gumbo and jambalaya, for instance, you’re serving “Cajun food” or “Southeastern American Cuisine.” Lobster’s maybe a Northeastern thing.
Anyway, my point isn’t to confuse everyone with apparently meaningless and disconnected facts or definitions. What’s important to note is that you don’t necessarily need to serve anything exotic to be successful, even in this contemporary melting pot of a food society we’re living in. Paying attention to the trends and emphasizing the regionality of your down home American food might just be enough. That and making sure the food, value, and speed are the best you can possibly offer, of course.
Come back next week for a more in-depth look at just what the “fast-casual” restaurant model is and you can implement aspects of that strategy for yourself. For now, feel free to contact us here.