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The Changing Face of Service

Mindy Armstrong / September 20th 2016

Everyone loves a good BOGO. Recent restaurant trends have taken this approach with their space, utilizing an existing space for multiple purposes. So sustainable, so acceptable. Especially in a time when less is more, simple is in and less decisions to be made is a gift. After all, according to The Futures Company, 47% of consumers agree:  “I often feel that I have to make too many decisions in one day,” up from 38% in 2013.

Imagine if the same restaurant could serve you lunch and dinner in the same day, but feel like two wildly different experiences. Go casual for lunch and throw on a dress and heels for dinner. Grab something sweet in the afternoon. Same address. From cross-utilizing one space to serve multiple ways to the increasing popularity of ultra-casual dining to the combining of different concepts, change is here, my friends.

One Space, Two (or More) Purposes

Let’s be real. What we need in the morning is different from the lunch hour. And dinner is a whole other beast. Often breakfast is about sustenance, familiarity, and comfort. At the breakfast table, pedestrian flavors are perfectly acceptable. After all, you are kicking off your day and have some serious goals and hurdles to charge through to mark the day a success.

Then, lunch creeps in. Slowly, swiftly, surprisingly at times. And all of a sudden, you’re starving. Bad decisions lurk as the lunchtime panic sets in. So imagine if your favorite dinnertime treat now serves something trend forward and exciting for the lunch hour. For instance, Vicia will be doing just that in St. Louis, MO. In the daytime, lunch will be served at the counter with a rotating menu of salads, grain bowls, soups and tartines. Perfectly delicious, perfectly brag worthy because you’ve made an oh-so-good choice. At night, the restaurant will rotate to a more elevated setup with an a la carte menu where vegetables will play a starring role.

Pineapple & Pearls in Washington, D.C., the sister restaurant to the award-winning Rose’s Luxury, offers an example of one restaurant space used for more than one daypart. By day, the space is utilized as a coffee shop. You can grab a sandwich, a coffee or a pineapple roll before going on with your day. But, be sure to come back that night, because the dinner menu promises to “bring back fine dining... [with] enjoyment, excitement, and over-the-top fun and pleasure," according to Chef Aaron Silverman in an article in Eater DC.

Super Casual is In, Dress Accordingly

In case you thought that foodservice had already gone quite casual, think again. It wasn’t casual enough after all. Ultra-casual counter culture is in and growing as more and more high-end chefs set out to create their version of a casual eatery with a focus on quality. Beefsteak in Washington, D.C., launched by Jose Andres is making a debut and may be in a market near you soon. With hopes of expansion around the country, this concept will allow diners to create vegetable and whole grain bowls with seasonal ingredients.

The explosion of wood-fired ovens continues and it should be appreciated. With the benefit of the extreme heat, you’re brought a beautiful char and a cravable smoky flavor. Ready in less than three minutes, pizza can truly be the fast food that we’ve wanted it to be while maintaining its spot as in our hearts. Southpaw in Seattle, WA is joining the crowd in offering their twist on pizza. But, this one takes it up a notch, offering wood-fired oven pizza made from high-protein dough that is then topped with garden-fresh veggies.

An Evening Out, Plus More

And to make multi-tasking even easier, what if you could combine dinner and entertainment into one evening. That makes planning a night out even easier. Bonus. From upscale eatertainment concepts to a single location offering multiple revenue streams, it’s getting easier to combine several experiences without leaving the building.

Punch Bowl Social, Denver, CO, is an example of the popularity of this concept, if growth is any indication. This spot offers Southern American fare, punch bowls in the bar and a large amusement complex with lots of games. This gastropub showcases their commitment to doing it right with a seasonally inspired, scratch kitchen and the buzz of a recent appointment of southern culinary sensation and celebrity chef Hugh Acheson to lead the culinary direction.

Single Thread Farms Restaurant & Inn in Healdsburg, CA is exploring the combination of a working farm, a tasting menu-focused restaurant and an inn inspired by the Japanese omotenashi concept of hospitality. The dishes offered will highlight the farm’s produce, the surrounding area’s bounty, modernist techniques and Japanese influences. A husband-wife team, one chef, one farmer bring this to us. A committed collaboration, indeed.

This exploration in new offerings from trusted restaurateurs comes at a good time. Consumers continue to seek variety on the plate. In fact, more than half of consumers say menu variety and customization are keys to creating good value. These trends definitely play into those requests, from multiple menus to multiple service styles to multiple ways to enjoy the experience. Check, check, and check.  

Written by: Mindy Armstrong, HC Partner & Growth Strategist
Photo credit: Jessica Ozment