Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Why California Restaurants Can Rest Easy: The Enduring Appeal of Dining Out


The restaurant industry has been obsessing with the rise of the minimum wage in California.  Steven Johnson Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions® continues to insist that there are many more reasons the long-term outlook for the California restaurant sector is bright. So, here we go.  

In California, approximately 49.3% of households consist of married couples, while 13.5% are single-female households and 6.0% are single-male households. Additionally, 24.0% of households have only one person, and 7.3% fall into the category of other non-family households.  Household size is a huge determining factor in determining ‘frequency of dinning out’ according to Johnson.  

Let’s focus on Millennials most coveted consumer today.  Like any other generation, they exhibit a diverse range of behaviors and preferences. While it’s essential to avoid generalizations, I can highlight some factors that might contribute to the perception that Millennials cook less from scratch at home:

1.       Lifestyle and Time Constraints:

o    Many Millennials lead busy lives, juggling work, social commitments, and personal interests. As a result, they may prioritize convenience over cooking elaborate meals.

o    Long working hours, commutes, and other responsibilities can limit the time available for cooking.

o    The rise of the gig economy and freelance work may lead to irregular schedules, making it challenging to plan and prepare meals consistently.

2.       Convenience Culture:

o    Millennials grew up during the digital age, where convenience is highly valued. They are accustomed to on-demand services, fast food, and meal delivery apps.

o    Pre-packaged meals, takeout, and restaurant dining offer convenience and save time compared to cooking from scratch.

3.       Skill and Confidence Gap:

o    Cooking from scratch requires culinary skills, knowledge of ingredients, and confidence in the kitchen. Not everyone has learned these skills.

o    Some Millennials may lack exposure to home cooking due to busy parents, reliance on processed foods, or limited cooking education.

4.       Cost Considerations:

o    While cooking from scratch can be cost-effective, initial investments (such as kitchen equipment, spices, and pantry staples) might deter Millennials.

o    The perception that eating out is more affordable than buying quality ingredients for home-cooked meals can influence behavior.

5.       Social Trends and Social Media:

o    Social media platforms often showcase visually appealing restaurant dishes and food trends. Millennials may prioritize experiencing these trends over cooking at home.

o    The desire to share food experiences online can drive restaurant visits.

6.       Changing Food Culture:

o    Millennials are part of a generation that witnessed significant shifts in food culture. They value diversity, global flavors, and experimentation.

o    Exploring diverse cuisines through dining out or ordering takeout aligns with this cultural openness.

7.       Environmental Concerns:

o    Some Millennials are environmentally conscious and seek sustainable food choices. However, they may perceive cooking at home as less eco-friendly due to packaging waste and energy consumption.

8.       Health and Nutrition Awareness:

o    Millennials are increasingly health-conscious. While some prioritize nutritious home-cooked meals, others may rely on pre-made options without considering their nutritional value.

Remember that individual preferences and circumstances vary widely. Many Millennials do cook from scratch, emphasizing health, creativity, and community. Encouraging cooking education, promoting accessible recipes, and emphasizing the benefits of home-cooked meals can help bridge any gaps.


While takeout and delivery are undeniably popular, California restaurants can take comfort in the fact that consumers, especially millennials, will likely continue to dine out frequently. Here's why:

1. California's Culinary Cachet:

·         California is a melting pot of cultures, reflected in its diverse and innovative restaurant scene. From Michelin-starred establishments to trendy food trucks, there's something for everyone's palate and budget.

·         Californians, known for their health-conscious lifestyles, appreciate the focus on fresh, local ingredients prevalent in many California restaurants.

·         Statistic: According to a California Restaurant Association: https://www.calrest.org/ report, California has over 800,000 restaurant employees, showcasing the industry's significant contribution to the state's economy.

2. The Social Aspect of Dining Out:

·         Restaurants offer an escape from the monotony of home cooking and provide a space for socializing, celebrating, and connecting with friends and family. Deliveries can't replicate the experience of a shared meal and lively conversation.

·         California's vibrant restaurant culture fosters a sense of community, with people gathering around food and conversation.

3. The Evolving Restaurant Experience:

·         Restaurants are constantly adapting to consumer preferences. Many offer online ordering and delivery alongside dine-in options, providing flexibility for customers.

·         Technology like self-ordering kiosks can streamline the dining experience, catering to millennials' comfort with digital tools.

4. The Value Proposition:

·         While grocery shopping can be expensive, restaurants offer a complete dining experience with prepared food, service, and ambiance.

·         Many California restaurants cater to budget-conscious millennials with lunch specials and happy hours.

The Takeaway:

California's unique restaurant scene, combined with the social and cultural aspects of dining out, ensures a continued demand for restaurants despite the rise of delivery services. Consumers will likely continue to embrace the convenience of takeout while cherishing the experience of dining out in California's diverse and exciting restaurants.

Looking for success clues of your own? Foodservice Solutions® specializes in outsourced food marketing and business development ideations. We can help you identify, quantify and qualify additional food retail segment opportunities, technology, or a new menu product segment.  Foodservice Solutions® of Tacoma WA is the global leader in the Grocerant niche visit us on our social media sites by clicking one of the following links: Facebook,  LinkedIn, or Twitter

Monday, April 22, 2024

Does Wienerschnitzel Have a Second Chance at Success?


Hot Dogs are hot and Steven Johnson Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions® wondered out loud if Wienerschnitzel the iconic hot dog retailer could compete with the ilk of  Portillo’s or in fact they even had second chance at success? 

There is no doubt that Wienerschnitzel, the world's largest hot dog chain, is taking many strategic steps to ensure its future success. Let’s take a look here at some of those steps:

1. Leveraging TikTok for Brand Awareness:

Recognizing the power of TikTok, Wienerschnitzel partnered with Ubiquitous to tap into the platform's massive "food" community (over 300 billion mentions!). Their goal? Viral TikToks generating over 10 million impressions, boosting brand awareness. By collaborating with influencers, they successfully reached a wider audience and showcased their iconic hot dogs.

2. Limited-Edition Menu Items Drive Sales and Engagement:

Wienerschnitzel isn't afraid to shake things up! They regularly release limited-edition food items like Mac N' Cheese and Fruit Loop Smoothies, promoting them through targeted TikTok campaigns. The goal? Not just sales, but engagement. By creating buzz around these specials, they effectively drive sales while keeping their audience excited.

3. Gradual Expansion Takes Wienerschnitzel Westward:

Wienerschnitzel has its sights set on the Midwest and South. Their strategy: building brand awareness market-by-market, starting with states adjacent to their existing footprint. By strategically targeting regions west of the Mississippi River, they aim to establish a stronger foothold and capture new markets.

4. Focus on Measurable Results Keeps Them on Track:

Influencer marketing can be tricky to measure. Wienerschnitzel tackles this by focusing on website traffic and clicks as key metrics. By measuring these, they gauge campaign success and optimize their efforts to stay within budget while achieving goals.

5. Collaboration with Influencers: Authenticity is Key:

Wienerschnitzel empowers influencers with creative freedom. This results in authentic content that resonates with TikTok users. This approach not only drives impressive reach but also solidifies Wienerschnitzel's position as a beloved fast-food brand.

In conclusion, Wienerschnitzel's innovative marketing strategies, regional expansion plans, and focus on measurable metrics position them for continued growth in the competitive fast-food industry. So, is there a second chance at success for Wienerschnitzel? Absolutely! They're taking all the right steps to ensure they remain a hot dog favorite.

Don’t over reach. Are you ready for some fresh ideations? Do your food marketing ideations look more like yesterday than tomorrow? Interested in learning how Foodservice Solutions® can edify your retail food brand while creating a platform for consumer convenient meal participationdifferentiation and individualization?  Email us at: Steve@FoodserviceSolutions.us or visit us on our social media sites by clicking the following links: Facebook,  LinkedIn, or Twitter

Sunday, April 21, 2024

How and Where Consumers Buy Fast Meals is Evolving


It’s at the intersection of yesterday fast-food restaurant and playground and time starved consumers that today’s consumers is opting for fresh food fast and simple according to Steven Johnson Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions®.  The drive-thru has been a fast-food staple for decades, but the way we get our burgers and fries has been evolving. Let's take a look at how consumer preferences and technology are changing the game.

The Reign of the Drive-Thru

Drive-thru sales have been booming, with estimates suggesting they made up half to over two-thirds of fast -food sales in 2014. This dominance continued through 2019, with figures hovering around 60-70%. The pandemic further solidified its importance, with drive-thru’s reaching over 90% of sales at its peak in 2020, when dining rooms were closed. Even in 2022, around 75% of fast-food sales still came through the drive-thru window.

Beyond the Drive-Thru

While the drive-thru remains a convenient option, new trends are emerging:

·         Delivery: The rise of food delivery apps has impacted fast food. Chains are optimizing their delivery processes and partnering with delivery platforms to reach customers wherever they are.

·         Mobile Ordering & Tech Solutions: Technology is changing the fast-food experience. Mobile apps for ordering, self-service kiosks, and even automated drive-thru systems are becoming more common.

Shifting Consumer Preferences

·         Affordability: Inflation is a concern for many, and fast-food chains are responding with a focus on value for budget-conscious customers.

·         Healthier Options: People, especially younger generations, are demanding healthier choices. Fast food restaurants are offering more nutritious and plant-based options to meet these needs.

·         Sustainability: Environmental responsibility is gaining importance. Fast food chains are implementing eco-friendly practices like reducing plastic waste and sourcing local ingredients.

A Multi-Generational Craving

Differentiation does not mean different it means familiar according to Johnson. Despite these changes, fast food chains continue to attract customers of all ages. There is now truly a multi-generational appeal for fresh food fast. Here are a few examples:

·         Taco Bell: From late-night cravings to family meals, Taco Bell's menu with its crunchy tacos, burritos, and unique offerings remains a crowd-pleaser.

·         Sonic Drive-In: Sonic's retro drive-in experience with burgers, fries, and drink variety offers a dose of nostalgia for all ages.

·         Dairy Queen Grill & Chill: Generations have enjoyed Dairy Queen's soft-serve ice cream, signature shakes, and classic meals, making it a multi-generational favorite.

·         Ponderosa & Bonanza Steakhouses: These iconic buffet-style steakhouses are experiencing a comeback. Families return for the comfort food reminiscent of their past, and the buffet caters to various age groups.

The future of fast food looks like a delicious blend of convenience, technology, and options that cater to our evolving preferences and values. Is your brand keeping up with the evolving consumer?

Foodservice Solutions® specializes in outsourced business development. We can help you identify, quantify and qualify additional food retail segment opportunities or a new menu product segment and brand and menu integration strategy.  Foodservice Solutions® of Tacoma WA is the global leader in the Grocerant niche visit us on our social media sites by clicking one of the following links: Facebook,  LinkedIn, or Twitter