The Daily Rail: Restaurants are Flourishing Except Casual Chains

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Why it matters to you: As all other areas of restaurant business flourish, casual chains’ sales are down.

In 2017, casual-dining chain sales declined by 1.4% overall, a decline seemingly assisted by full-service restaurants. While this partially has to do with the rising cost of workers, it mainly has to do with the success of smaller chains and business awareness. Most Millennial diners are much more thoughtful with what and how they consume. The prevalence of social media and the internet comes with problems for casual dining chains. People are now far more aware of frozen food being microwaved or items coming straight from bags at casual chains. Plus, so many independent restaurants are serving up gorgeous seasonal items for more or less the same prices, it is hard for chains to compete in more foodie-centric cities.

So, what is the solution for these struggling casual-dining chains? Doing what the independents are doing is not a viable option for the larger conglomerates. Applebee’s has been trying to draw people in with consistent $1 drink deals, while McDonald’s has been making their concessions less cookie-cutter by offering fresh beef. No sign as of yet if these moves will lead to change, but anything is better than complacency, especially when you are starting to drown.


Why it matters to you: Ranch dressing’s high popularity translates to profit.

Have you ever been to a restaurant that doesn’t have ranch dressing? From pizza shops to fine dining, almost everywhere has some iteration of the popular salad dressing. There is even a restaurant in St. Louis where every item on the menu is ranch related.

Ranch is a buzzword at this point in America from slip and fall lawsuits at Walmart to viral clips, articles and more. People love seeing anything ranch related. The ranch love runs so deep that The Washington Post angered the whole internet when they said, “Ranch dressing is what’s wrong with America.”  Anything that could anger the internet so thoroughly is worth being on the correct side of.

What does this mean for your restaurant? Nothing much beyond just presenting it as an option -- like you’re not already. Or maybe find fun ways to make it a centerpiece of a menu item or two. People seem use ranch on everything, so a homemade recipe is a surefire hit. We’re not saying you don’t need to make 27 types of homemade ranch, but we’ve also seen worse ideas.