2007 Restaurant Trends Forecast.
Quantified Marketing Group
Tuesday, 23rd January 2007
A certain amount of excitement surrounds the new year as we anticipate how it will unfold and the restaurant forecast for 2007 includes new dining movements, new flavor profiles and healthy growth for specialized and quick-casual concepts.

For the past 50 years, the restaurant industry has been made up of three distinct segments – fast food, casual dining and fine dining.  In recent years, the industry has started to break into more categories, including quick-casual and home-meal replacement, which are two of the fastest-growing segments within the food service industry.

According to the National Restaurant Association, restaurant industry sales are expected to reach $537 billion in 2007. The quick-casual segment alone is predicted to hit double-digit percentage increases.

Although the quick-casual restaurant sector is still in its infancy, this segment will continue to dominate industry growth in 2007 by dividing into smaller and more specialized categories.

Cereality and Peanut Butter & Co. are examples of successful one-product concepts that have recently emerged. Cereality serves only cereal and allows guests to create customized cereal combinations with a number of toppings and choices of milk. Peanut Butter & Co. is a sandwich shop that offers a menu made up entirely of signature peanut butter sandwiches.

One of the newest niche concepts to emerge on the quick-casual restaurant scene is Franktitude, a gourmet hot dog chain in South Florida where guests can customize their hot dogs by choosing from a range of franks and toppings such as hummus, banana chips and wasabi mayonnaise.

More specialty restaurant concepts are on the horizon for 2007 and those planning to launch a new restaurant in 2007 should concentrate on delivering a specialized product.

Specializing means sacrificing certain segments of the market. No one ever loses in business because they have a broad focus, they lose because they run up against a competitor with a narrow focus.

Starbucks is the most successful and fastest growing take-out operation in history. They open an average of 1,500 new stores each year by selling coffee prepared by highly-trained baristas. They picked one superb product to sell, rather than trying to provide a variety of products. Orlando-based Urban Flats is finding similar success by offering a menu which consists of various flatbread creations.

Restaurant concepts will migrate toward bolder foods and flavor profiles in 2007. Within the quick-casual segment, there are four flavor profiles that will see massive growth –
authentic Mexican, Pan Asian, Middle Eastern and Mediterranean.

The fastest- growing ethnic cuisine is Mexican, but the trend is moving away from Tex-Mex and toward authentic Mexican fare. One concept that will tap into this trend is Vamonos, an authentic Mexican taqueria owned by Grupo Anderson's, Mexico's largest restaurant company. This new concept has rapid plans for expansion and will be opening the first of its multiple U.S. locations in 2007.
The second growth vehicle within the quick-casual segment is Pan Asian cuisine. The most recognizable player in that segment is Pei Wei, a smaller-box version of P.F. Chang's. Raving Brands' Mama Fu's is a close second.

South Florida-based Taverna Opa knows Mediterranean cuisine is gaining ground, evidenced by its rapid expansion in recent years. The Greek restaurant chain has opened four locations since it debuted the concept in Hollywood, Florida in 1998 and will open their fifth location in Orlando in spring 2007.

Dietary issues are a concern for every consumer, and restaurants will satisfy consumers' appetites for healthier menu options in 2007 by offering wraps, chicken dishes and energy drinks. Restaurants are also incorporating more locally-grown and organic ingredients into menu items in the wake of E. coli and salmonella scares. Consumers will continue to embrace the menu flexibility that tapas-style eateries offer, such as creatively-composed appetizers, small plates, snacks and sandwiches.

As wine continues to grow in popularity, wine will make its way onto the menus of casual and quick-casual restaurant concepts. Wine bars will also experience explosive growth in 2007.

The southeast restaurant market will see vast growth as more chains from the west coast expand into southeastern states. California-based BJ's Restaurant, known for its Chicago-style pizzas and hand-crafted beer, will open three locations in Florida in 2007.

Mature brands will reinvent themselves or perish in 2007. Many national chains will reposition themselves in the face of new industry developments. The "trading up" phenomena will continue, and luxury brands will flourish in the restaurant industry in 2007.

Veranda Park, Orlando's largest urban town center, will open Satava, a fine-dining restaurant concept considered a leader in culinary, conceptual and design innovation in Central Florida. Satava's contemporary coastal cuisine and décor are inspired by the life-like art works of Richard Satava, whose hand-blown jellyfish sculptures have established him as a master glass artist.

Restaurant concepts will have smaller and smaller footprints as industry players compress sales to square- foot ratios, and marketing budgets will shift from mass media practices to non-traditional approaches including local store marketing, four-walls marketing and public relations.

Restaurateurs shouldn't create carbon copies of hot restaurant trends, but rather use trends as an inspiration to create their own specialized niche within the restaurant industry.

Quantified Marketing Group has been providing restaurant marketing, restaurant public relations , restaurant design, restaurant promotions and restaurant consulting services since 2001, and has grown into the nation's largest full-service restaurant marketing and restaurant public relations firm focused exclusively on the restaurant industry.

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