By Steph Steil Hoppe
July 8, 2020
The restaurant industry has long proven that flavor, menu and experiential innovation are pillars of success. Companies who allocate consistent resources to meet and exceed those guest expectations maintain a competitive edge. Enter COVID-19. In March, the world turned upside down, and survival and safety became priority, putting other initiatives aside, understandably. Our industry is in a state of evolution, inventing contactless formats and new delivery options, and resetting the guest experience—all new table stakes.
Innovation creates an emotional connection that is important now more than ever. Restaurants are beyond functional, serving a higher purpose of connectivity and exploration. Humans crave creative expression—including flavor—as illustrated by the spike in food-related social media, a rise in quarantine baking and the popularity of home cooking contests.
Innovation stimulates. It creates momentum to change the world, or it can simply engage guests by offering new flavors and formats that are ownable and memorable. Safety and survival will continue to be at the forefront in the foreseeable future. However, innovation will play a major role defining our new restaurant paradigm; it is a key ingredient for long-term sustainability and success. Those that invest early will retain and grow guest loyalty. Innovation and the inspiration it creates are essential.