The “Cheesecake Factory Effect” and other Food and Wine Trends
Charlie Adler – Drinking on the Job!
I haven’t forgotten my dear Blog readers..just needed some Summer time off to re-visit, re-invent, and re-think; I think everyone deserves a little time off for reflection. Nothing earth shattering, just a chance to travel a bit (short soul searching trip to Durham and Nagshead North Carolina, gotta tan out of the deal!) and look back. Conclusion? Sit tight, there are changes going on in the U.S. in general and in the food and wine industry as well. Here are some ongoing and new trends I’ve noticed:
1) Restaurant portions are getting larger..and larger
I was at the Fancy Food show in NYC and mentioned to an exhibitor how I don’t enjoy going out to eat at restaurants as much as I used to because the portions are so large – I hate wasting all that food or taking it with me. The reply was interesting..they asked me if I had seen the size of the new dinner plates being offered by many restaurants, they were on display at a restaurant supplier’s booth – they were Serving Tray Size! Call it the Cheesecake Factory effect, but many existing chains as well as standard American restaurants will be using bigger entree plates. Conclusion: the American waste size will just keep getting bigger..
2) The Food Truck Craze is Amazing!
I’m by no means an expert on this, but I think it suggests a longer term trend. If more and more food trucks hit the streets, then restaurants are going to have to compete on price, value and variety as well The trucks offer such a diverse array of foods, we even have a Korean Taco food truck on the streets of Washington, D.C. People often wait 45 minutes or more when they could easily sit in a restaurant, get service and finish their meal in the same amount of time. Why people prefer this method of food delivery is hard to say, but one reason is most likely the rare chance for people to physically interact. As we get more computer and technology oriented in our daily lives, there will be more need and excuses for real human contact.
3) Craft Beer is Hot
I somehow missed this trend – pretty ironic when you consider that I make a living organizing wine and food events over at TasteDC. Again, what causes a trend like this is hard to determine, but I have an inkling that it may be a reverse trend. Craft beer attracts slightly more men than women overall, but it’s not a significant percentage difference, or at least it isn’t lopsided. On the other hand, the number of women’s events in the DC area is astonishing – every week there are many fashion, women-only networking, plus the fact that stores offer much more selection for women – I even found a yoga store that is exclusively for women! All men have left is sports, restaurants and..beer! With more and more dollars being spent by women FOR women (vs. as gifts by women for men), expect to see more “male oriented” food and beverage trends. Craft beer fits perfectly because most boys/men are brought up with beer, and craft beer’s demographics are higher income, better educated and more traveled.
I’ll keep searching for new trends, but hopefully this gives a snapshot or taste of what’s going on in our world of food and beverages – Cheers!
Charlie “I Drink on the Job” Adler