Millennials dining less, restaurants offering more
Food establishments are hoping to reverse the dining trends of millennials who, according to recent reports, have cut back significantly on their restaurant visits over the years.
Millennials, 18 to 34 years old in this case, make up 23 percent of total restaurant spending, but, according to The NPD Group, they have each been putting out an average of $180 less since 2007.
Given the still-struggling economy, money is the main reason for millennials' absence from the dining scene. Eating at home, or even picking up prepared meals from the supermarket, can result in a much cheaper tab.
So, when these younger diners do decide to eat out, restaurants have to keep them coming back for more.
Marilou Halvorsen, president of the New Jersey Restaurant & Hospitality Association, said millennials don't dine out in pairs as much as they do in larger groups, according to conversations with her members, and in turn, the party is more likely to have someone with a specific dietary restriction or allergy.
"That person is the one who's typically a decision-maker," Halvorsen said, and that decision will be based on what restaurants have to offer.
That's why it's not odd these days to see menu sections that specifically feature non-gluten or carb-free items, or dishes made up of only farm-to-table ingredients.
"You probably want to have a few different options for each dietary restriction," Halvorsen said. "Especially if they advertise online….they can quickly go on their smartphone and say, 'Oh look, there's something that our friend Joe can eat.'"
And, in a separate report on millennials' dining habits, they said they'd be willing to pay at least 10 percent more for gluten-free dishes.
Halvorsen noted the generation is also hyper-focused on the overall experience of dining out - not just what's on the plate, but the overall atmosphere of the restaurant, including the view and wall décor.
What would restaurants have to do to get you to dine out more frequently? Cheaper prices? Menu items based on dietary restrictions? Take our online poll and tell us more in the comments section below.