Fast Food Goes Upscale
Upscale eateries and gourmet delis are replacing fast food.
So what is happening with food today and in the future? Here are some observations...
- All incomes have turned to places that will feed them quickly and cheaply, the latter being a relative term. On one hand, McDonald's and Taco Bell meet certain families' needs, while higher income brackets seek out such tony markets/eateries as New York's Tuscan Square, Dean & Deluca's and Balducci's, Dallas' Eatzi's, Washington's Sutton Place and Los Angeles' Bristol Farms, where prepared gourmet dishes featuring fresh ingredients are ready for take-out. But even McDonald's is losing market share these days, and many experts believe this is a direct result of people today being more interested and more educated in food than ever before; to them McDonald's does not meet the quality levels they expect.
- As Editor-in-Chief of Restaurants & Institutions Magazine, Daniel Puzo predicts that the next trend will be better quality fast-food eateries. Boston Market has opened that door, particularly with its "take the whole meal home" concept, and people are demanding fresher, tastier food, even if they don't have time to cook. Look for top-quality, flavorful foods with more natural ingredients from tomorrow's food chains.
- "Then there's something we're calling Meal Solutions," said Puzo recently on TVFN. "It's where people are eating at home more but cooking less. And so you have this tendency to get fully cooked, ready to eat meals at restaurants and/or supermarkets and take them home and eat them. So what you want is "ready to eat"—or "ready to heat"—and that's a major industry that I think will be worth about a hundred million dollars in the next few years."
- Department Store Dineries: Neiman Marcus started it years ago when Stanley Marcus and Helen Corbitt transformed the typical department store's ladies tea room into a gastronomic trend setter with gourmet foods, savory dishes and fine wines. The Zodiac Room was then, and still is today, an example of how offering shoppers a culinary respite helps keep them in the store. Now, stores of all kinds have realized that people like the convenience of eating where they shop. Barney's, the posh clothing store in NYC, has opened an in-house place to dine, while Virgin Records and other specialty stores have also reported successful quick-dining areas, and reports indicate the shoppers enjoy these conveniences very much. For a trend that's new to us, but not to most Europeans, see our report on the innovative Tuscan Square, where late-night eating, shopping and purchases of fresh meals to go have found their niche in New York.
Food Trends for 1998 & the Millennium
This page originally published as part of the electronic Gourmet Guide between 1994 and 1998.
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This page modified February 2007