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A Bright Future for the Restaurant Business

Apr 9, 2008
One thing we can be certain of regarding the restaurant business is that there will be a great many changes in the years to come. The exact changes no one can predict but it is relatively simple to identify trends and to assume that the trends will continue. What are some of the more discernible trends?

The population of the United States is growing at a rate of four million people a year. Population today exceeding 170 million is expected to easily reach 220 million by 1975.

The custom of dining out is an established part of our way of life. Twenty million of the working population is women, many of them married. Frequent restaurant meals for them and their families are a necessity.

We are a materialistic people. Eating out - once a luxury - is today considered by most of us as necessary. Domestic servants are expensive and few. Even for the higher middle class level it is much easier to eat out than to maintain a cook at home.

Large segments of the population have had income increases which permit them to eat out more often not only as a means of relaxation and escape from the monotonous chores of house keeping, but also as a form of pleasure and entertainment.

Family income, even after taxes, is at an all time high of $5,300 and is expected to pass $7,000 by 1975. Individual savings are at a record level of $340 billion dollars. The value of meals eaten away from home (now approximately 17 billion dollars) is expected to reach well over 25 billion in the next 15 years.

Types of Food Service Operations

There is a definite trend toward 3 types of food service operations. The growth of fast, minimum service restaurants is apparent. Catering primarily to the shopper, young men and women employed in offices, retail outlets, these restaurants satisfy their customers need to save time and to obtain good food at moderate prices. Quick, self service is an established mode in this country. Most Americans have been well oriented to this pattern as evidenced by the rapid growth of supermarkets, self-service drug stores and many other types of retail establishments.

Not so evident is the rapidly growing combination motel-restaurant all over the country. Chains such as Interstate, Howard Johnson, Holiday Inn have in the last few years opened many of these units to the general public. Individual operators have started hundreds of motel-restaurant operations. As we become more and more a nation on wheels - travel more within the country and be away from home a greater part of the time, eating out will be a necessity.

In this respect more travel by air has caused several well known companies to concentrate their attention on airport food service facilities. Even now the search for profitable airport food contracts has resulted, in instances where a two or three million dollar facility is being considered, to lease arrangements involving payments as high as 22% of the gross sales.

The third type operation that has and will continue to gain in popularity is the atmosphere restaurant. The "two dollar meal served in the five dollar atmosphere" is a good formula. Specialty restaurants such as Hawthornes' By The Sea in Massachusetts; Chardas Hungarian Restaurant in New York City, atmosphere restaurants such as Creighton's in Fort Lauderdale; the Forum of the Twelve Caesars in New York City are growing in popularity and profitability.

Eating out need not be merely an escape from routine housekeeping chores. Glamour, stimulation of all the senses, excitement, a feeling of satisfaction and well being are all part of the package that a good atmosphere restaurant sells in addition to food.

These trends seem certain to expand in the future and assure us that eating out, well established already in the American way of life, will continue unabated into the future.
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