Monday, September 22, 2014

Long "Cheesecake Factory"-style Menus Going Out of Fashion in US

Having a college-textbook-sized menu has been a bragging point for American restaurant chains.  If a patron could browse through dozens of pages of choices, he could certainly find just the dishes he was in the mood for.  

But now, growing sophistication and sharpening tastes has led diners to seek out more sharply focused menus, and to begin to doubt that a restaurant that tries to do everything can do anything right.

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
The Washington Post

Link to article:

Excerpt: "For years, long, winding menus were the fad. The more options a restaurant offered, the less likely that diners would want to go elsewhere, the thinking went. And the thinking was widespread: Everywhere from Ruby Tuesday to the Olive Garden and McDonald's obliged, channeling their inner Cheesecake Factory with menus that spanned several continents and cuisines, challenging even the sturdiest attention spans.

But Americans are finally growing tired of all the clunky, and often confusing, food lists. And restaurants seem to be taking note...

In all, the country's 500 largest restaurant chains have cut more than seven percent of food items offered this year, per estimates by food industry research firm Technomic. 'Across all mealparts, casual-dining chains are reducing menus,' Technomic said in a report from June.

Slimming down menus can be a fairly straightforward way for restaurants to cut costs. By offering fewer items, eateries can more easily standardize food quality, avoid the waste from estimating demand for longer lists of foods and, presumably, boost their profit margins — either by charging more or spending less.

'There are a lot of cost issues inherent in long menus,' said Maeve Webster, a senior director at Datassential. 'Right now, for example, protein prices have been more volatile than at almost any other time. Waste can be costly.'

But the biggest impetus for all the menu shrinking going on is likely tied to a change in the country's food culture: Americans are becoming a bit more refined in their tastes.

'Historically, the size of menus grew significantly because there wasn't the food culture there is today,"' said Webster. 'People weren't nearly as focused on the food, or willing to go out of their way to eat specific foods.'

For that reason, as well as the fact that there were fewer restaurants then, there used to be a greater incentive for restaurants to serve as many food options as possible. That way, a customer could would choose a particular restaurant because it was near or convenient, rather than for a specific food craving (which probably wasn't all that outlandish anyway). But now, given the increasing demand for quality over quantity, a growing appetite for exotic foods and a willingness to seek out specialized cuisines, Americans are more likely to judge a restaurant if its offerings aren't specific enough."

1 comment:

  1. Hear hear! Its about bloody time!