In our line of work, we try to look ahead to what’s happening in the hospitality industry as it relates to emerging opportunities and consumer interest. This year has been full of growth and innovation in food, restaurant design, and concepts.
We’ve heard and seen lots of buzz around next-generation fast casual. This is independent owners offering quality chef created food in a fast-casual environment. These establishments are focused on good quality food and quick service. We’ve had several clients this year expanding their single location concept to new units and it looks like a trend that will continue.
Innovation and expansion are evident as non-food businesses are taking market share. Restoration Hardware has opened another full-service restaurant in their meat packing restaurant along with a coffee and wine bar. These restaurants generate 5+ Million annually. Next up, Crate & Barrel is opening up a restaurant in a Chicagoland location. This partnership with Cornerstone Restaurant group will serve to create a destination experience.
As consumers are eating at home more, there has been an increase in investment in unique concepts and experiences within dining. This means the consumer is looking for a unique experience when they venture out. Restaurants have in turn delivered unique interior design concepts, fusion menus, elevated craft cocktails and all the details in-between.
Creative collaborations, unique destinations, and technology are all ingredients being used to capture customers. Fast food restaurants collaborating with fashion designers? Yes, an unlikely pair but KFC + Japanese designer Nigo recently created a capsule collection of urban streetwear that is selling out. The buzz by social media influencers confirms this was a great strategy to brand and capture market share. In coffee news, Starbucks has opened its first roaster in NYC. An incredible destination with a bakery, cocktails and true experience to be shared. Two more roasters are slated for Tokyo and Chicago.
Food halls are another trend to watch, and a favorite of mall operators and real estate developers as they look to keep breathing life into retail. Over ten years ago Westfield Group saw the potential and started adding unique vendors in their vacant space. This trend will continue in 2019 with over 180 food halls and growing in the United States. Increased European travel has fueled this consumer demand as people return home to the US eager to seek out their food travel experiences. Time Out Group, the creators of a Lisbon food hall considered to be the world’s best, now has three coming to the US in Chicago, Miami, and Boston.
It’s been a great year for Firefly and we are continuing to be inspired and excited with what our clients are creating. Restaurant sales reports have confirmed that numbers are the best they have been since 2015. Most of this is a result of rising guest checks which reflects the unique experiences being demanded.
We appreciate all the support from our network this year and look forward to being a valuable industry resource in 2019.