Are more people turning to food in 2022?

By Megan Prevost

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a wide range of unique effects on how Canadians view food. In its early stages, the pandemic forced many people into long-term confinement with a very limited social connection bubble. For obvious reasons, restaurant meals have been taken off the table for almost everyone, and people have begun to develop a closer, more personal relationship with their meals.

More and more people have started cooking and storing food at home, as well as starting and maintaining fruit and vegetable gardens or building relationships with local butchers or farmers. In a way, the pandemic has reconnected many people to food at home. Without the ability to go out to dinner, many people began to experiment with cooking in ways they had never experienced before. The food was special; it became one of the pillars of human connection that we all still had to hold us together.

2022 and beyond

Smash cut to 2022. To date, the pandemic has been suppressed, to some extent. Vaccines are widely available for free, we have a better understanding of symptoms and flare-ups, and people can make safe and informed choices about how they interact with the world.

Restaurants have also returned with a vengeance, with many favorite spots sitting at full capacity and serving hungry diners as they did before.

Yet despite this return to “normal”, eating out feels more special than before. In 2019, going out to a restaurant was as simple a choice as choosing an outfit or a song to play while driving. The pandemic, for many, has highlighted that beloved social experiences should not be taken for granted. Experiencing a restaurant meal is, in its own way, something special. It is a meal created by someone whose expertise is food creation; besides that, they organize the ambiance, the pairings, the service and all the other facets of an experience.

Why fine dining?

When it comes to dining out, no sector of the restaurant industry meets this expectation better than its highest level. The fine dining – which typically includes set menus and prices, phenomenal service, drink pairing options, and a sense of a lovingly crafted experience – is always special.

Unquestionably, the food in fine dining establishments is supposed to be at least excellent, but the live is what ultimately creates value in these areas. Many fine dining restaurants, for example, grow their own produce or source from farms that work exclusively with them. There will be nothing quite like it in the world; every time a customer takes a meal in this dining room, they are eating something that cannot be found anywhere else.

The deprivation of this experience is the consequence of the pandemic. Where it was once the norm to take culinary experiences for granted, now uniqueness is savored to a degree that would not have been possible before. Likewise, however, the expectation of spending money on dining out has diminished as many people have adapted to cooking in their own homes. For those who have started growing their own food, the appeal of restaurants no longer exists at the level it used to.

What does this mean for the industry?

What does this mean for restaurateurs in the wake of a changing world? The answer is worth highlighting: restaurant meals are more special than ever.

For those in the food business, the elements of the dining experience have always been carefully selected. Now that any Eating in a restaurant is special, this attention must be given whatever the level of service. Now more than ever is the time to think about more than the food your business serves. (You should always prioritize the quality of your food above all else, but the extra details are more important than ever.) Take inspiration from fine dining and start curating a customer experience. Managing the details has a lot more impact on diners than you might think, and that impact is key to keeping your business alive in the minds of your regular customers.

Your next steps

So what details are worth considering? There are many, but as a first tip, chew on said details one by one.

The easiest and most visible for many guests is to rethink your menu. If you use images or put something together just to convey the information, you may be reducing the value of the experience to your guests. Think seriously about how you organize that vital first impression of your business. find a beautiful model and apply your company’s dishes to it, focusing primarily on featured flavors and aromas. Remember, this is about what you want your guest to perceive, not necessarily listing all the details of creating a dish.

Once you’ve carefully considered your menu, pay the same kind of attention to other elements of your dining experience. How is the lighting? Are you trying to create a warm and cozy atmosphere or something more in the vein of sunlight and space? There’s no end to the number of details you can prioritize as someone running a business. With that in mind, don’t let it stress you out. This should be one of the joyful elements of building the experience. This is fun to find ways to showcase your concept and bring it to the minds of your guests. Take these pieces one at a time and revel in your growth.

Create an experience for your customers in a post-pandemic world

So, now, are there more customers turning to fine dining in 2022?

Some absolutely are. The level of conservation present in the gastronomy is indisputable. Customers looking for an experience above all else know this when they book a table and, knowing that going out may be less common for many, they are looking for a moment of pleasure.

But the drastic cultural shift in catering means that ultimately restaurants themselves are turning more to fine dining. This is a good thing. No one remembers a forgettable, mass-produced meal. They remember the moments, and you are responsible for creating them.

Megan Prevost is a contributing writer for RestoBiz and a content manager for MustHaveMenus. His work has also appeared in App Institute, Bar Business, Modern Restaurant Management, Small Business Currents, PMQ, FSR, The Daily Fandom, and FanSided.

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