We’ve known that consumers, Millennials and GenZ especially, are keen on ethnic flavors and cuisines. The emerging generation is growing up in more culturally diverse neighborhoods and schools. These consumers know what’s out there in the big wide world, and the lack of it in nearby restaurants is stifling. They are adrift in a sea of traditional American cuisine.
Granted, there are foodservice baby steps in the right direction. We see clear glimpses of authentic ethnic cuisine. We all know Sriracha is hot. But now, what about the original dishes it goes with? Harissa is new to many, but why not launch it on the menu in its intended dishes and not as a flavor to put a South African spin on an American dish?
We’re reading headlines now that show promise of authentic ethnic food for America. Like this: “Bibibop Asian Grill Purchases Shuttered ShopHouse Locations.” Authentic Korean, anyone? And this one: “Filipino Food is Finally Getting its Due,” that even mentions a chef organization called the Filipino Food Movement. Additionally, all eyes are on fast casual South African chain, Nando’s—a worldwide brand.
In its Foodservice Trends 2017 report, Mintel whittled the future down to four trends. One is “Fundamentally global.” It points to the current popularity of the above-mentioned cuisine types and how Millennials will drive it as the most likely to be willing to try these cuisines.
Current thinking suggests that traditional American operators offer LTOs with these ethnic ingredients and flavors. I think we are ready for something more radical than that. How about foregoing traditional American and jumping into the actual ethnic food? Food trucks are a start. But what about an international cafeteria style locale that can turn its cuisine on a dime—or offer several at the same time—similar to school cafeterias? Only, of course, it should be dubbed fast casual. (Isn’t that what college cafeterias are anyway?) I know of nothing like this in the American commercial world, but someone will think of it. It’s just an investor away with the promise of Millennials, GenZs and those from the featured ethnicities as customers. They will have no problem with multi-national fast-casual food lines.
Who will go to bat with a group of ethnic eateries all in one place? A c-store? A grocerant? A shopping area food court? An airport?
Do you know of a place like this? Let me know.