Australians’ expectations regarding the dining experience continued to evolve in 2015, with consumers becoming increasingly enthusiastic foodies and demanding new culinary experiences. As a response to this trend foodservice operators continued to innovate and experiment with formats, menus and concepts. Although most of the innovation was concentrated in standalone and retail locations, the trend was also evident in other locations such as lodging. For instance, in October 2015 Hotel Marriott in Melbourne launched the “Table for 12” dining concept, offering customers the opportunity to enjoy a 4-course degustation menu paired with wine for only 12 people. The menu is available only one evening a week, thus reinforcing the uniqueness of the experience, with customers able to share their dining experience with others looking for food with distinctive positioning.
Furthermore, demand for novelty gastronomic experiences supported the re-emergence of pop-up restaurants during the year. Although pop-up stores are not new to Australia, in 2015 these gained relevance in the foodservice industry, with a numbers of operators opening temporarily, including US burger chain In-N-Out Burger and Copenhagen’s world-renowned Noma. Other industry players such as The Keystone Group and Merivale Group, owners of multiple restaurants, have also created spaces that allow them to have temporary restaurants throughout the year. For example, Merivale’s Work in Progress location, hosted a number of pop-up restaurants during the year, including Chef Patrick Friesen’s fried chicken and noodle bar and Chef Eric Koh’s dim-sum restaurant. Similarly, Keystone Group opened in June 2015 its pop-up space with Barbarello’s Pizza & Arcade concept, which was open from June to September 2015.
Euromonitor International expects to see additional investment in food menus and outlet formats as well as further experimentation of food concepts that can support demand for unique and adventurous food experiences. Although in 2015 most of the innovation took place across independent operators, Euromonitor anticipates innovation will also be common in chained operators. With key players such as McDonald’s already proving it is possible to offer a distinctive eating experience despite having a highly standardised business model, more chained operators are expected to follow initiatives such as “Create your Taste” and The Corner café by McDonalds.
With pop-up restaurants representing a great opportunity for operators to test products and business concepts, while promoting their business, it is expected to see more restaurants opening temporarily in Australia. From the demand side perspective, foodies eager for a new eating experience will also support this trend, as the short-lived nature of the pop-up will continue to maintain their interest. Furthermore, Euromonitor also anticipates new developments of spaces exclusively designed for the roll-out of pop-up restaurants by industry groups following the initiative of key industry players such as The Keystone Group and Merivale Group. These type of businesses have a competitive advantage over other foodservice operators to open and operate pop-up restaurants as they not only have the know-how of managing a restaurant, but also easier access to the necessary resources, including the physical space, chefs and reputation.