Across the U.S. undeniable changes in how customers dine out are occurring, causing owners of many casual sit-in restaurants to see a decline in profits and visitors. From casual dining where customers once sat down to enjoy a mid-price range meal to customers now opting for less cost and faster service to stick to their budget, many casual dining franchises have to adapt their approach if they plan to keep customers returning.
It’s no wonder that faster and cheaper would appeal to American food diners as well as eateries with a creative edge that is stepping outside the framework of many franchise restaurants. Finding a way to maximize an ever minimized budget for some families calls for adjusting dining routines, whether its work lunch hours, dinner hours with the family, or finer dining evenings. Finer dining for which customers are willing to pay more is even changing, with more customers expressing an interest in higher scale restaurants than mid-range casual sit-in locations for particular “getaway” meals.
So what is causing these shifts and what are casual dining establishments doing to adjust? If lowered budgets are the primary matter than customers certainly wouldn’t be interested in higher scale dining, which in recent years have still maintained incoming customers looking for a more indulgent experience. Is it really simply the budget issue that sends diners to faster and lower cost eateries, like various Tex-Mex eating establishments, or those offering tasty and quickly prepared sandwiches for busy lunch crowds? A step above quick service restaurants and perhaps slightly more costly, fast casual eating shifts certainly emphasis changes in spending habits, but not just spending habits alone.
Value and atmosphere appear to be at the forefront of spenders’ minds, where with a lowered budget how money is spent and on what plays a greater role than simply finding a meal in a local casual dining sit-in restaurant that features a decent menu. The issue certainly appears to center on budget, and also how consumers currently relate to their purchases, with an even greater emphasis on finding a quick, relatively low cost meal at a local eatery that is set apart, different in some way shape or form. Whether it’s the menu, the decorum and atmosphere, the flexibility of ingredients for different diet preferences or needs, or the experience itself, customers are certainly voting with their dollar which highlights some of the shifts that casual dining restaurants will have to contend with.
Many casual dining establishments are altering menus, increasing the pace with which food is made available for patrons, and attempting to ramp up social media and technology updates to invite even more foot traffic. Traditional casual sit-in dining is changing primarily due to customers changing, and demand indicates whether businesses are relevant as diners shift where they put their dollars and attention. This means new changes in the franchise food industry with an even greater emphasis on creativity, which fuels menus, atmospheres, and values that make a food dining experience something customers will remember and return to, even on a budget. Perhaps this is what the change is really about, and customers are now more than ever looking for somewhere special to enjoy their next meal.