Millennials love to dine out. In fact, according to a study by Bankrate.com, the average Millennial eats out five times a week. However, they are getting pickier about where they choose to spend their time and money. Millennials are driving the experience economy; they would rather pay for an experience than a product.
That’s why ‘eatertainment’ venues are gaining steam with younger consumers. These restaurant/bar/gaming establishments take an ‘old school’ spin on socializing. Guests gather to eat, drink and play games like shuffleboard, marbles, Skee-Ball, ping pong and vintage arcade games. As Millennials seek out unique and share-worthy experiences, “eatertainment” venues are the ultimate one-stop-shop.
I recently interviewed Robert Thompson, founder and CEO of Punch Bowl Social, about his recipe for success with Millennials.
Jeff Fromm: What are some of the new food & beverage trends you are participating in?
Robert Thompson: While the team is always working to stay ahead of the trends – and often has a hand in creating them – we continue to align with industry trends. Notable food and beverage trends are vegetable entrees, nostalgic foods, and craft non-alcoholic drinks. On the latter, millennials drink moderately less alcohol but still demand a craft experience.
In 2016, I brought on James Beard award-winning chef and author, Hugh Acheson as Punch Bowl Social’s Culinary Partner. Hugh has supported our culinary team in adding diner-inspired, scratch dishes to our menu that encourage feelings of nostalgia while simultaneously maintaining a level of refinement that is consistent with casual dining. Think opulent gluten-free fried chicken, and zesty spaghetti and meatballs made from grass-fed hormone-free beef.
We are also finding that our Millennial customer base is prioritizing allergy-tolerant healthy eating, too. To appeal to our largest demographic, we continue to introduce new vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free dishes to our menu in addition to featuring daily vegetarian specials. To complement these dishes, we have recently expanded our craft beverage program to include almost as many non-alcoholic craft beverages as we have alcoholic drinks. These new options include popular kombucha teas, matcha lemonade, a cilantro fizz made with aqua-fava, and fizzes that are made with house-made ingredients such as jalapeño-cucumber, lavender, and beet syrups.