How Restaurants Are Creating Innovative Dining Experiences
In a world of cookie-cutter chains (and the occasional corny establishment) it can be difficult to sit down to a truly unique restaurant experience. But, now more than ever, restaurants are making an obvious effort to create innovative, and fun, dining experiences that keep customers coming back for more.
Any restaurant can kick their creativity up a notch, and here are some popular concepts that restaurant owners can use to begin brainstorming their next big theme.
Make it interactive
When it comes to fun and unique restaurants, the Benihana Japanese steakhouse chain tops the charts. Bringing the flat-topped hibachi grills to the U.S., and having chefs who prepare food with personality (like the infamous move of flipping a shrimp into a jacket pocket), has been hugely successful for the chain. Diners love the interactive and fun atmosphere, and it’s an experience that can’t be easily replicated for other varieties of cuisine.
But, restaurants outside of the hibachi niche can still make their dining rooms interactive and appealing. A clean and open kitchen concept, where customers can see how their food is being prepared, is one simple way to stand out. Stir fry chain bd’s Mongolian Grill executes the idea well, too. Customers choose their own stir fry ingredients, and chefs cook them up fresh, right before their eyes. The idea has been so successful that it was the first U.S.-based chain to open a location in Mongolia.
Get a group together with communal dining
Full Service Restaurant Magazine points out that “strangers sitting side-by-side” isn’t a new concept, but it’s becoming more popular in upscale restaurants, too. It’s an interesting idea that aims to bring people together at the dinner table... and away from their phones. The long dining tables are suited for any number of cuisines, and it’s certainly a unique idea that can be used to bring some excitement to the dinner table.
Stay green and go local
Eating locally, and sustainably, is gaining traction across the U.S. Customers care about where their food is sourced from, and they love seeing what their own backyards have to offer their taste buds while supporting their local farmers. In 2013, Forbes saw that this trend was taking hold, and anticipated that it would be a reoccurring theme throughout 2014.
Expensive farm-to-table restaurants aren’t the only businesses concerned about sustainability, either. Chipotle’s success story proves that diners care about the integrity of their food at any price point.
Think outside the country
According to Restaurant.org’s culinary forecast report, one of the big trends for 2015 and beyond is ethnic-inspired foods. Fusion, authentic, regional, Peruvian, and Southeast Asian foods are making diners drool. Ethnic-inspired breakfasts are extremely popular, and fusion foods are gaining traction, too. One inspiring example is L.A.’s Korean taco truck, Kogi. Who knew that Korean flavors paired so well with tacos?
Foodies and casual diners alike love to try new foods and flavors, and ethnic-inspired restaurants help them get outside of their culinary comfort zones. As long as the food is prepared authentically, customers will be left wanting more.