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Food

Updated on: Saturday, February 29, 2020, 09:56 PM IST

‘We are in the era of premium casual dining’, writes The Chocolate Spoon Company founder Rachel Goenka

Rachel Goenka, CEO & Founder of The Chocolate Spoon Company, shares insights into the changing landscape of the hospitality industry
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Five years ago the restaurant industry was bustling with fine dine establishments. Fast forward to 2020 and the restaurants that were trailblazers during their tenure have made way for a new generation of eateries. We are in the era of premium casual dining.

The millennial customer is a very decisive customer. They want variety, quality, creativity and experience all within a certain price parameter and time span.

Restaurants today have evolved to include more global cuisine in their menus. Small plates have become the new staple and restaurants have expanded their alcohol menus to include a plethora of cocktails, wines and craft beer.

Marilyn Angel Wynn

It’s not just about the food any more. Experience plays a large part in the dining culture today. Restaurants are putting a large focus on the entertainment that they offer and music is carefully curated to influence customer behaviour.

Restaurants have evolved into resto-bars and bars into gastro-pubs. Bars today take their food as seriously as a restaurant ensuring that the customer is always content.

Then there’s the emergence of delivery services that have encouraged people to order in more frequently. Food has become easily available and customers want the option of ordering in, so naturally restauranteurs have further tweaked their menus to make them delivery friendly as well.

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These food delivery services have also led to the emergence of dark kitchens. They’re fast, cheap and convenient. Quality is no longer their utmost priority, but eventually customers will migrate to those players who do not rely on frozen meals but instead prioritise fresh produce and ingredients. More and more, restaurants are catering to online delivery demands further resulting in the move away from fine dine.

The past five years have also seen major headwinds in the forms of unsustainable deep discounting by aggregators, GST issues, highway bans etc. The entire business models of restaurants are being recalibrated to adapt and deliver quality and creativity within a certain price point. Ingredients are expensive, rentals more so hence the shift towards premium casual dining makes sense.

Creativity and innovation is seen more now with the addition of special and seasonal menus. It also gives restauranteurs a better idea of how to innovate and gives customers something special to look forward to.

Enter Gen Z

There is an emerging trend of sustainability thanks to the next generation beyond millennials. Gen Z are environmentally conscious with a large focus on organic, sustainable dining. This is giving rise to zero waste kitchens, indigenous ingredients becoming stars of menus and environmentally friendly practices.

Vegetarian and veganism is also on the rise, and more and more restaurants are now including a selection of these options as part of their menus. Already there are niche restaurants that cater to this lifestyle and we can expect to see a lot more concepts in future that are focused on healthy eating. The keto diet too has created a massive stir within the industry with cafes dedicated to serving only keto meals. Gen Z don’t mind paying more for better ingredients and quality produce.

So where does that leave us?

On the one hand the next five years can expect to see more niche restaurants and cafes. Smaller establishments, where sustainability will go beyond just produce but also incorporate aspects of décor as well. Repurposed materials can expect be a major draw. Restaurants will also grow their own produce if not purchase solely locally. Dining responsibly will become a new practice.

On the other hand, we will also see new concepts in the experiential dining space and I expect the burgeoning trend of regional cuisine driven restaurants to continue to grow.

And finally, the new Mumbai 24x7 initiative will bring about a slew of new concepts such as food truck parks and 24-hour coffee shops.

The Indian culinary scene will continue to be taken up few notches, so it’s exciting times ahead for us all.

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Published on: Sunday, March 01, 2020, 07:00 AM IST
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