The New Stuff


December and the Significance of Fine Dining


In April 2009 Food & Wine asked the question, “Should Fine Dining Die?” Ultimately they decided the answer was NO!  Not least among the reasons was the exquisite meal that Anyz von Bremzen experienced at L20 in Chicago.

As usual, this got us thinking about the fate of fine dining so we decided to devote the month of December to this industry segment.  Our plan is to dive deep into the state of fine dining, the pros and cons and of course we’ll give you some of our usual food for thought.

Why dive deep into a segment that represents 10% of our industry?  Because for forty years, until the economy shift in 2009, they have been left untouched by the usual outside influences.  While this has created some current growing pains for the segment, and our industry, the outcome just might have been the very thing we needed to fuel creative chain concepts and new independents.

The good news according to NPD Group is that “independent, white-tablecloth restaurants are enjoying a resurgence of business from those with higher incomes.”  Technomic is predicting, “…the fine dining category continues to show healthy growth and should increase sales by 5.8%”.

Did you know this?  If we’re telling you this for the first time, you should stay with us this month as we explore the use of a business plan, mission statement, and innovative products that will help you pay attention to the middle class, noticeably missing from all the stats, so that you can market to them and capture them.

Each week we’ll explore an angle or some factor of the business that you can latch on to. We’ll highlight trends in the segment and illustrate companies that feed into the concepts, like casualization, that will make you successful.  The segment is poised for growth with conservative estimates ranging from 3.6% up to 5.8%.

Remember this; fine dining has been instrumental in creating food trends since the beginning of time, ok maybe not that long.  QSR’s Marc Halperin and the Center for Culinary Development refer to it as Trend Mapping.  From his article in February 2011, “it’s a methodology that’s worked quite well for us for more than a decade now…it posits that fine dining chefs are extraordinarily good predictors of which new culinary ideas will ultimately make their way to chains, the aisles of mainstream grocery stores and all manner of menus.   Think ciabatta bread, pesto and chipotle sauces, Caesar salad at a grab and go.

We’re talking creativity, but no longer is menu and recipe creativity enough.  As an example, Johnson and Wales, in an industry analysis of the fine dining segment, established that Ruth’s Hospitality Group, Inc. is one of the leading companies in the segment that demonstrated positive trends in revenue during the downturn.  We’ll explore some of the ways they, and their competitors, were able to fuel that success, think customer first, adhering unfalteringly to a mission statement.  Do you have a mission statement?

It’s an exciting time for fine dining but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be cementing your concept and branding and identifying the importance of living your mission.  Stay with us, we’ve got your back.


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