Today’s fine dining restaurants face just as much competition for diners’ dollar as their quick service and fast casual counterparts — or maybe more considering they are competing for diners’ choice on special nights out. Keeping up with these three fine dining trends can help your restaurant attract customers with the dining experiences they are looking for.
1. Boring dining experiences are out, adventure is in. Many consumers still love the fine dining experience, but some are less interested in enjoying their food in a staid, stuffy dining atmosphere. They want to engage in “adventurous eating”— and that means more than trying menu items with an unusual twist.
Some establishments have taken this most interesting of fine dining trends to new heights, for example, giving guests a real taste of adventure by serving meals high up in a treehouse, a building rooftop, or at the top of a mountain. But you can turn dining into an adventure without going to those extremes. For example, one New York City restaurant holds regular “dark dining” events where patrons don blindfolds and eat dinner in a darkened room, having fun as they attempt to guess the cuisine is on their plates.
Exotic décor or entertainment can also be used to keep pace with this fine dining trend.
2. Fine dining goes social. These days it seems every discussion of fine dining trends includes some element of turning the fine dining experience into a social event. Today’s customers, especially millennials, may choose your restaurant as a gathering place. To keep up with this trend, fine dining establishments are creating larger tables and welcoming groups during the slower hours of 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. Some restaurants also have communal tables where singles, couples, or smaller groups of guests can sit, mingle, and dine with other guests.
3. Serve with an order of genuine hospitality. Among fine dining trends of the past was a tendency for wait staff to be somewhat aloof and formal in their treatment of guests. However, the tide is turning. While servers continue to comport themselves in a professional manner — for example, refraining from being overly “chatty” with customers and paying strict attention to etiquette — fine dining restaurants have recognized the importance of genuine hospitality to providing great dining experiences.
Notably, instead of a distant, or even a condescending tone, servers readily share knowledge of the restaurant’s fare in an enthusiastic tone, often sharing details of their personal favorites and why they like them.
Current fine dining trends are very experience-centric, but it’s also important to continue to pay attention to the core of your business so you can serve menu items made from the best ingredients, staff your restaurant appropriately, and manage operations so they are profitable. A solid business enhanced with the opportunity to provide memorable dining experiences is the perfect recipe for success in 2017.