2015 saw lots of restaurant closing. One small franchise introduced a no-tipping policy and raised prices. The minimum wage caught on in a few places. Ramen, the equivalent of hot dogs in Japan, got popular and a bowl of these noodles and broth cost as much as $18 a bowl at some U.S. places–2-3x what it costs in Asia. What will 2016 bring?
- Expect to see a bigger difference than ever in some cities between good restaurants and most others. The good restaurants will be catering to folks who can send $300+ for a dinner that makes them feel good while squirreling away cash and ignoring the need or desire to improve upon public infrastructure. The other restaurants will use a variety of marketing terms and pitches to get people to eat burgers, pork, pizza, and glop–so many ingredients on a plate you can’t taste a single one.
- Culinary school menus. Restaurants will have an array of choices, sort of like Dunkin’ Doughnuts, so that grandma, grandpa, mom, dad, and the kids will all be happy. This borrows from diners, but the difference is that diners are priced well, not especially fussy, and focused on simple, good food. No wow factor at diners.
- Fewer French and Japanese restaurants. These places require a high level of skill, and aren’t about marketing. The margins on the protein are small, the cook needs to be a chef, and staff need to know how to sell. There’s little immediacy to the experience. Which gets us back to #1: You’ll see these restaurants at the highest level–but who will go?