Linen tablecloths, exotic ingredients, tuxedoed waitstaff – while there’ll always be a place for fine dining, gone are the days when a restaurant or café meal was only enjoyed on special occasions.
A robust hospitality sector, higher disposable incomes and an ever-increasing variety of cafes, restaurants, bistros and licensed clubs at their disposal mean Australians enjoy dine-in and premium takeaway experiences with greater regularity.
Market research company IBISWorld predicts this trend will continue to grow.
“Consumers are anticipated to spend more on eating out over the next five years, which benefits industry operators,” IBISWorld reported in 2021.
“Demand for convenient food and beverages will likely drive industry expansion, as consumers live increasingly busy lives.”
Cafes alone are forecast to enjoy annualised industry revenue increases of 1.8% over the five years through 2026-27, to $11.5 billion.
With this change in dining behaviour comes a change in appetite too.
Time-poor consumers and those who enjoy the convenience of prepared meals are shunning fine dining in favour of simpler fare, made ethically and sustainably from premium ingredients, and service that is both efficient and friendly.
A successful family-run business, Helen’s is here to offer hints and tips to give venue customers a warm and welcoming “home away from home” experience.
Handmade products evoke a greater sense of warmth and comfort than mass-produced items. Similarly, menu items made to traditional and authentic recipes win more favour with diners seeking comfort food than generic products. IBISWorld anticipates more venues across the dining spectrum will adopt this approach to menu planning.
“The quality of food served by many cafes is anticipated to continue improving. However, restaurants are anticipated to expand their cafe-style operations … resulting in strong external competition for industry operators.”
Helen’s Hint: Consider sourcing premium handmade menu items from independent and reputable suppliers to alleviate the burden on kitchens. Each savoury and sweet item produced by Helen’s is handmade with love to traditional family recipes.
Using fresh, seasonal ingredients not only produces a tastier product, it also contributes to a more ethical and sustainable supply chain.
“Consumer demand for healthy and premium food and beverages is also projected to support the industry’s performance over the next five years,” IBISWorld reports.
“(Venues) offering diverse menus that emphasise fresh and premium ingredients are anticipated to be the best performers, as consumers search for quality.”
Helen’s Hint: Offer a variety of hearty and wholesome items with fresh seasonal ingredients to cater to all tastes and appetites. How about mini muffins bursting with juicy berries and fritters packed with corn and zucchini to flaky filos encasing chicken tenderloin and in-season veggies and rib-sticking pies with beef, bacon and rustic vegetables?
Consider offering customers a full homestyle meal experience by pairing your hero menu item with familiar and tempting side dishes. For example, pair a tender steak and onion deep-dish pie with creamy mashed potato and steamed greens or a warm savoury tart with a lightly dressed, crunchy side salad. For sweet treats, add ramekins of homemade jam and cream to a serving of warm scones or a coffee to accompany toasted banana bread.
Helen’s Hint: Offering a perfectly paired side dish or matching beverage provides an excellent opportunity to generate add-on sales.
SET THE TABLE
It’s said we eat with our eyes first so presentation is key when it comes to plating and presenting each menu item. For dine-in experiences, perhaps invest in homestyle tableware such as ceramic plates, branded cutlery or table settings and decorations that align with the venue’s aesthetic. For a premium takeaway experience, provide everything the consumer needs to enjoy their meal on the go, from cutlery and napkins to condiments and accompaniments.
Helen’s Hint: There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to food presentation but try to strike a balance between three key elements – taste, texture and colour. This can be as simple as serving an oven-warmed beef lasagne with a crisp salad featuring a rainbow medley of vegetables.
Helen’s European Cuisine is a proudly Australian-owned, family-run business specialising in premium savoury and sweet products. Everything is handmade with love using fresh, seasonal ingredients from traditional family recipes. Contact our Sales team to discover the Helen’s products sure to get your customers’ tastebuds tingling.