Full-service restaurants, especially casual dining, have been struggling in recent years but things are looking up for the segment. According to Technomic’s 2018 Future of FSR Consumer Trend Report, there is a long road ahead but factors like increased emphasis on value, off-premise sales, alcohol, and “memorable away-from-home experiences” are helping them grow.
“Following a year in which the total unit count for Top 500 casual-dining chains declined 1.5 percent, some brands are starting to see positive signs at the unit level,” explains Charles Winship, senior research analyst at Technomic. “As the segment’s turnaround continues, efforts will turn to cultivating sustainable, long-term growth strategies that avoid the issues that led to casual dining’s downturn to begin with, such as weak value propositions, an oversupply of restaurants and failing to evolve with consumers’ dining habits.”
Customers are still visiting full-service restaurants regularly, and the researchers found:
- 53 percent of consumers say they visit traditional casual dining restaurants at least once a month
- 38 percent of family-style consumers say they’re more likely to visit a chain than an independent
- 51 percent of upscale casual dining restaurant consumers say they visit these restaurants to celebrate special occasions
For the report, the researchers interviewed more than 1,600 consumers, as well as including data from menus and industries from the Ignite database.