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Restaurants: contradiction AND niche market

Report 014, food - living

The restaurants are slowly opening again.

The trends we can observe in the post lockdown reality are both a contradiction and a niche.

The contradiction is twofold.

There is both a contradiction and a niche.

The contradiction is twofold.

Bohemian, simpler alternatives have won a place in our hearts and habits.

On the one hand, during the past 8 weeks of lockdown with restaurants and bars out of bounds, we have started to appreciate the beautiful alternatives that have arisen. Picnics in fields, in the park, with just a linen tablecloth, food and drinks (and maybe a mobile food ordering service). These bohemian, simpler alternatives have won a place in our hearts and habits.

To share an anecdote from last week: I met some friends for lunch, and as we were walking down the street we saw an old washing machine on the street. And we decided to sit there. One of us on the washing machine and another on the pavement, and it was one of the most beautiful lunches we ever had together, because it was improvised, and real, and all about us. Prior to Corona, our restaurant experience was driven by the atmosphere of the place, the service levels, the image. And now we are in control of creating the atmosphere for these moments.

And although we miss the restaurants and bars and terraces, these new opportunities for realness which are accessible and affordable will remain a part of our lives.

The other side of this coin is the super high end.

Operating costs for horeca have remained relatively constant (rent, staff etc.), but restaurants and bars serve less people as they abide by the distance restrictions – the consequence is that more revenue needs to be made per head. And with less available seats, the customers willing to pay the highest price come out on top. There are already examples of the hyper rich renting out full hotels for themselves and their friends.

A niche market has popped up in the middle.

Restaurants with a casual, low profile, bohemian atmosphere, and focused on outdoor space. The picnic vibe brought to restaurants. Low operating costs, and accessible to all.

It’s the perfect hip new trend, for the physical distancing economy.

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