To look at the restaurant industry as a whole and decide it is successful or not is really an oversimplification of an increasingly complex industry. The rise of millennials has brought with it an increased focus on buying local which has been a death knell for previously popular casual dining chains, but it has also meant an increase in eating out in general. The 25% of the population born from 1980 to 2000 is spending more eating out than any prior generation, and Gen Z coming up behind them will likely continue the trend of eating out more regularly but buying local. If you’re looking to start your own restaurant business here are a couple of trends to take advantage of the changing marketplace. 

Lower Cost

Millennials eat out more often, considering it the norm rather than a treat, but with huge student loan burdens and less confidence in the economy, they are looking for value for their dollar. Opening a restaurant that focuses on multiple courses and hours’ long dining at a premium price is not where the market is heading. Instead, focus on a menu with a competitive price point that diners can receive quickly or even order for delivery.   

Local and Locally-Sourced

The drive to become eco-friendly is affecting the restaurant industry as much as any other sector of the economy. Not only are more diners choosing local restaurants, but they also want to know that their food has been locally sourced as much as possible. They know that food transport increases greenhouse gases and vegetables out of season either don’t taste as good or simply aren’t as fresh.

Marketing should focus on those special items on your menu that are partially or wholly sourced from local ingredients. Growing your own ingredients can be a huge selling point as well as a way to save money. Consider entering an agreement with vendors at the local farmers’ market and area ranchers. Advertise partnerships with other local businesses. Use local businesses to decorate your restaurant. Source your bread from local bakeries and keep beer from local breweries on tap. 

By providing niche food that is unique to your area and your business, local food that can also be tailored to increasingly unique dietary requirements, you’re setting your restaurant business up to be a success where another generic chain restaurant can never win. It is an era where the small fish can win even in a big pond.