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Is the change in fine dining likely to be the start of a trend that could affect the broader industry? Experienced chefs Graham Krueger and Vasilios Donoudis chat with us about the ever-changing business model of restaurants and what you should be looking out for with your business.
In the past few years we’ve seen a significant increase in the number of ‘fast-food’ bistro style restaurants popping up all over the country. And no, we don’t mean your traditional fast food restaurants, but rather quality food, done fast! In this instance, the ‘fast-food’ restaurants we’re referring to are those where you order and pay at a counter, your meals are one course, the price point is low, and you’re in and out within the hour.
Graham Krueger, Group Executive Chef at Western Suburbs Leagues Club, says the the change is a direct result of public demand.
“We’re becoming more reliant on eating out. Rather than only eating out on special occasions, some people are starting to eat out 3-4 times a week. There’s a demand for fast, accessible meals within the price point of $18 – $25” he said.
|Image| There is a strong demand for good food, done fast.
“Not only that but people want to be in and out, they want to fit more things into their day – like dinner and a movie – so they want the food to move fast.”
Vasilios Donoudis, Executive Chef at Trippas White Group, says it’s also due to the rising costs of running a business.
“The cost of goods has gone up, wages have gone up, but people are wanting to pay less for their meals,” he said.
“Running a successful restaurant has gone above and beyond the costs that people can afford, so they’ve had to change their business plans to survive.”
The new bistro style business model means customers might spend less in one go, but they’ll visit more regularly.
“People’s cost of living has changed and fine dining just isn’t affordable for many people anymore,” Chef Krueger said.
Chef Krueger says there’s now a huge emphasis on meals such as slow cooked pulled-pork, pulled-beef, burgers, pasta, and gourmet pizza.
“The public want fast but still with a hint of gourmet. Basically, they want champagne on a beer budget.”
Despite the negative connotation the term ‘fast-food’ may have, Chef Donoudis thinks it doesn’t think we will see a decline in the quality of food being served.
“Many of these new fast-food style stores are run by people who have worn chef hats in the past, so they are really creating a new higher quality version of this food that fast food stores have never been able to do before,” he said.
“There’s pressure to be good and stand out from the rest as there are so many similar style places out there.”
Despite the change we are seeing, fine dining isn’t completely out. Chef Donoudis says there are still a large number of successful fine dining restaurants, we’re just seeing less of them open, and they’re being confined to specific locations where there is a higher demand.
According to Chef Krueger, it’s as easy as diversifying your menu. “While the demand for fast-food restaurants is high, there are also those who want a more complete experience. Restaurants can benefit from this by offering sides such as chips, salads, veggies etc to enhance the dining experience, and move it toward fine dining should the customer choose,” he said.
|Image| Salads are becoming an increasingly popular accompaniment
Chef Donoudis thinks offering the choice of both is one way to change your business model to keep in tune with demand.
“People want a more accessible menu. Fine dining generally have more exotic ingredients and a limited number of meals available, whereas this bistro style of dining is more in tune with what the mass public are familiar with,” he said.
The end of fine dining represents more of an evolution; to meet the demands of an increase in dining frequency from the culinary public. Looking into ways that you can tweak your menu to take advantage of this trend should be a consideration for every business.