After years of growth for the nation’s big chain restaurants, independents and smaller chains are now where Americans are choosing to spend their dollars.
Diners are showing they appreciate the authenticity of locally-owned eateries with their daily specials and original decor. This, after several decades of dominance of chain restaurant’s consistency.
It’s a turning point in our eating history, according to Darren Tristano, chief insights officer at Chicago-based restaurant research first Technomic.
“This really seems to be the dawning of the era of the independent,” Tristano said. “The independents and small chains are now outperforming. The big chains are now lagging.”
Annual revenues are expected to grow about 5 percent through 2020, while chains are expected to grow about 3 percent, according to Pentallect Inc., a research firm in Chicago.
Last year, the nation’s largest food chain, Subway, by number of locations, saw doors closing. Trends were also reflected with restaurants like Noodles & Co. and Red Robin Gourmet Burgers.
Large chains have become part of the American dining experience, but times and tastes — they are a’changin. Pentallect reported that customers believe locals have better food, service and even decor.
The future of dining, it appears, is all about authenticity.