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As part of the research toward the 2017 edition of Passport Consumer Foodservice, analysts in fifty-four countries were asked to submit the most interesting and most relevant new restaurant concepts in their market. These concepts will serve as content for an upcoming New Concepts in Consumer Foodservice global briefing (or two). A preview of three of these concepts, however, is featured here, each offering different facets of the greater foodservice experience that consumers increasingly expect when dining out.
While the experience offered by each concept manifests itself in different ways, each concept hinges on novelty to enhance the attraction. The typical global consumer leads an increasingly modern, urban, more digitally connected lifestyle and is busier than ever. On top of competing for share of foodservice occasions, operators are competing for consumer attention as well, which means the dining experience needs to be worth consumers’ hard-earned money, as well as their time. When choosing to dine out, consumers want to be entertained by innovative ordering and table service, or by flying drones or customised culinary feats. More than ever, the greater foodservice experience is driving traffic, and this experience will be crucial for foodservice operators moving forward.
Austria’s Rollercoaster Restaurant is a full-service restaurant that serves its own in-house beer along with other alcoholic beverages and a menu of domestic food, burgers and pasta. The restaurant is located inside Vienna’s popular Wurstelprater amusement park, sitting opposite the city’s well-known Ferris wheel. Though the menu features a familiar spread of comfort food, the restaurant’s chief attraction is a distinct network of tracks that loop above and around tables and diners, intricately connecting each table with the kitchen and bar.
The logistics and coordination of the tracks rely on technology. Diners may place orders at any time from their tables on electronic tablets without the need to call on wait staff. The orders are processed and prepared in the kitchen and at the bar, then shuttled straight to the customer in specially designed buckets that slide along the tracks with the help of gravity and some carefully placed catapult impulses. Complex robotics ensures each bucket is directed along the right tracks to make it to the proper customer, while autonomous robots are also capable of mixing drinks at the bar.
Entertainment is central to the restaurant’s strategy. Consumers are entertained by the technology and the novelty of the tracks, and the entertainment adds value to the dining experience. The concept touches on elements of the experience that consumers increasingly want such as convenience and technology, a fun, innovative atmosphere, and near constant entertainment. In modern, urban markets, especially among developed countries like Austria, it is becoming increasingly difficult to entice diners to “dine-in”, given trends in delivery, takeout and convenience, so an exceptional in-store experience is sometimes necessary to lure customers.
In late 2016, Domino’s Pizza successfully delivered a pizza by aerial drone to the private home of a customer in a New Zealand suburb. The delivery was the first successful trial for the company, and represents the first of a wave of trials Domino’s hopes to perform in other markets in 2017. Domino’s leverages technology in many ways to improve its delivery capabilities, and drones are just the latest injection of technology the company hopes could make the fast growing delivery channel even more viable.
If drones like the one that was test trialled could be permanently incorporated into Domino’s delivery fleet, the impact on the industry could be substantial. Drones could augment the delivery capacity of each of the chain’s delivery hubs and help facilitate orders during peak hours. Drones could also increase the delivery radius of each of the chain’s outlets, which could enable delivery to customers in far-flung rural areas where delivery is not necessarily cost-effective, meaning more customers could be served.
Most significantly, drones could help reduce the operational cost of delivery, savings that could be passed on to the consumer to make the service cheaper and more attractive. Delivery as a channel taps into significant consumer trends that favour convenience whenever possible, but delivery is also an added expense, a value-added service that drives up the bill. If the cost factor was eliminated from the decision-making process, it is likely more consumers would choose to have their meals delivered. Given Domino’s’ authority in tech-driven delivery, if the company can make drone delivery feasible, it is likely we’ll see a lot more of them in the future.
Unlike the first two concepts, La Picantería offers a decidedly low-tech dining experience that centres on food. La Picantería is a small, independently owned full-service restaurant located in a quiet residential corner of Lima, a local spot that relies on word-of-mouth advertising to attract customers. In early 2016, the restaurant re-invented itself with the idea to completely scrap the menu. Instead, diners simply describe what they like and negotiate a compromise given what’s possible and available according to the day’s ingredients. The restaurant specialises in local cuisines with an emphasis on fish.
La Picantería offers an extreme form of consumer customisation that gives diners as much control over the menu as possible to maximise individual appeal. The process of negotiating a potential meal connects the consumer with the chef on a more intimate level, which enhances the dining experience. The restaurant harkens back to traditional dining culture in Perú in which meals were eaten together with friends and family around a large table. While the concept offers a relatively traditional experience that diners may find refreshing, the real attraction stems from the creative capabilities of the chef and kitchen staff that create the novel experience consumers crave.
Source: Euromonitor International
Source: Euromonitor International
This year’s winning concepts reflect an increasingly important dynamic in global foodservice. On the one hand, technology is becoming a pivotal part of the foodservice experience, enhancing the capabilities of operators to provide a more connected, convenient, and at times, entertaining experience that caters to the changing needs and demands of a more modern consumer. On the other hand, acting as a sort of counter balance to convenience and hyper-connected dining, is a growing demand for the low- or no-tech dining experience. Foodie culture still abounds and is thriving in spite of, or perhaps because of, a growing culture of convenience. In all cases, in modern consumer markets, restaurants are competing for consumer attention just as much as they are competing for share, so novelty and innovation in all forms are critical to the greater foodservice experience that consumers increasingly expect.