Family dining occasions are naturally a trademark of the family-style segment; in fact, nearly half of parents polled by Technomic (49%) visit family-style restaurants at least once a week. Even though parents and kids may be the primary target audience for family-style restaurants, opportunities exist to boost traffic and sales from other groups, including younger Millennial and Hispanic consumers.
"Family-style restaurants are well-known for attributes that are highly applicable to the family-dining occasion—namely friendly service, a welcoming atmosphere and amenities that appeal specifically to parents dining with children," says Darren Tristano, vice president of Technomic. "But it's also vital for these operators to leverage the importance of affordability, menu craveability and appealing comfort foods in order to attract a broader customer base."
To help foodservice executives better understand consumer behavior, preferences and attitudes regarding family-style dining, Technomic has developed the Family-Style Restaurant Consumer Trend Report. Interesting findings include:
- Forty-five percent of Millennials and 57% of Hispanic consumers say they visit family-style restaurants once a week, compared to just 41% of all consumers polled.
- Affordability, cravings and comfort foods drive visits: 69% of consumers say they are likely to visit family-style concepts when seeking sit-down meals at an affordable price, and roughly half say they'd visit when craving certain menu items (54%) or when seeking comfort food (45%).
- Amenities that make the dining experience easier for moms in particular are likely to be well-received at family-style restaurants; 50% of moms, and 34% of dads, say toys and games for children are highly appealing at these locations.
- Healthy kids' options are more important than expansive kids' menus. More than half of parents (56%) place high importance on healthy options, compared to just half of consumers who say expansive menus for young children, tweens and teens are important.
- Fresh descriptions resonate strongly with family-style consumers; 61% of consumers would pay more for items described as fresh, compared to two-fifths of consumers who are willing to pay a premium for other leading health call-outs, such as seasonal, natural, lowfat, low calorie and more.
- About half of consumers (48%) polled say they would be very likely to try new or unique items or flavors at family-style restaurants. Ethnic items are one way to add new flavors; three out of 10 consumers say they would like family-style restaurants to offer a wider variety of ethnic items.