09 | 06 | 2022

Three experts take a look at the trends and challenges facing the restaurant industry, which is undergoing an unprecedented transformation.

Bernard Boutboul: GIRA, President

François Blouin: Food Service Vision, Founding President
Nicolas Nouchi: CHD Expert, Insight Director

According to restaurant typologies, there is a real recovery dynamic (bakery, fast food) of the transformations envisaged and great prospects ahead. The recovery is driven by a catch-up effect: after months without going out to the restaurant, customers want to return to this place of socialization and this moment of pleasure. The desire to go there has never been so strong.

The three experts, present together for the first time in the same conference, exchanged views on various topics. "Trends and issues in the restaurant industry" caught our attention.

The new star dishes

François Blouin points out that consumer expectations are very marked: sustainable development, local and homemade. In addition, whether in fast food or delivery, burgers, Asian dishes and "comfort food" are popular. One could say that consumers want ingredients from here and cuisine from elsewhere.

Nicolas Nouchi emphasizes the success of bowls (not just pokies) because they are beautiful - Instagrammable - and good.

Bernard Boutboul emphasizes the shortening of menus and the increase in the speed of product rotation, linked to a re-seasonalization of the menu: what comes first is taste.

The importance of the customer experience and room service

The experts agree that the restaurant industry of tomorrow will be experiential or it will not be. Bernard Boutboul talks about three levels of experience:

  • the place
  • the dish consumed
  • the human contact with the staff

In another talk, Victor Lugger, CEO of Sunday (and founder of Big Mamma), insisted that the polarization is getting worse, with restaurants that just feed on one side, and on the other, those that offer an experience, a moment of service.

Aperitifs, afterworks - and the high consumption of beverages that goes with them - are one of the strongest markers of the recovery (François Blouin).

Sustainable development and CSR, new expectations of young people

François Blouin points out that consumers have become very attentive to the carbon footprint of a restaurant or a dish and to the Ecotable label. For CHD, these expectations are mainly driven by young people, consumers and restaurant owners. There is a form of commitment, even militancy on these issues.

Why are restaurant owners struggling to recruit, and how to react?

This is not a surprise, it is a basic trend that was accentuated during the health crisis: during the shortage of jobs, employees in the restaurant sector decided to leave this very busy and too little valued profession.

Areas for improvement:

  • Increase salaries, unattractive, even if it is not the first reproach of employees: there is also the lack of recognition and involvement in the life of the company.
  • Again on the drudgery of the profession and address the issue of cuts according to François Blouin. In Lyon, some of the best restaurants close on weekends to allow employees to have a family life.
  • We need to rethink the employee experience at all levels: digitize tasks without added value and change management.

To conclude, what is the major issue in restaurants?

It is crucial to review the business model, which has deteriorated: No longer bet everything on the best location (if it's good, customers will come) and the most expensive purchases. Recruit new profiles of motivated front-of-house staff, even beginners, and manage differently. In this context of scarcity of labor and products, the very short-term challenge is to source candidates and commodities.
We're moving toward a hybridization of outlets, much like in the United States. Restaurants are going to have to transform and add activities to cater to an increasingly volatile consumer who wants everything at all times.