5 Qualities Young People Look For In Restaurants

Is there any such luxury as commonplace and rewarding as going out to eat? It’s largely accessible to much of the population and attracts audiences of all ages as well. But as we’re on this one-way road to the future, younger generations are going to drive the future of the industry, as always. The culinary world is no different; it must keep up with the demands of its patrons.

Maybe it’s a rooftop beer garden. Maybe it’s offerings like bottomless brunch. Either way, certain modern restaurant qualities are dominating and determining the future of how restaurants look and operate. If restaurants want to keep up, they either need undeniably exquisite food and drink offerings that stand the test of time, or they need to implement some new, modern tactics and trends that are doing well among younger people.

In this blog, we are going to break down five specific qualities of modern restaurants that are doing well and dominating the industry. The pandemic saw some 100,000 restaurants close across the country. Those that survived had to adapt to some never-before-scene tactics for serving food, such as takeout-only models, expanding their outdoor seating, partnering with other restaurants, and more. And even after the pandemic, some of these trends have continued to show success, and are therefore here to stay.

1.  Small Menus (And No Pictures)

Small menus not only are easier to navigate than menus with several pages, but they also express that a restaurant has chosen a specific niche or focus, and is committed to doing it well. Menus you have to flip through, and are decorated with endless pictures of the food, are considered red flag restaurants.

If there are 30+ items on the menu, can the restaurant really do ALL of those things well? When was the last time someone ordered the mussels at this burger joint? Can I trust these buffet crab legs? These are questions you hope to avoid popping into your head during a sit down meal.

2.  Solid Happy Hour Offerings

Young people (and everyone, really) love happy hour. This is the perfect time to not only beat the crowd but enjoy some awesome, limited time offerings. Cocktails and small plates are cheaper than usual, and getting a deal while going out to eat helps ease the pressure on your wallet. Many people express that going out to eat is their biggest “waste” of money. But if you’re getting a good deal on your food, it won’t feel like a waste.

Some happy hour offerings go above and beyond, such as bottomless mimosas, all-you-can-eat choices, seasonal offerings, entire-day happy hours, and more. Restaurants are competing for patrons, so having a solid happy hour deal is a surefire way to get more people in your seats.

3.  Organic and/or Locally-Sourced Ingredients

One way to impress your audience and improve the quality of your food is to partner with local farmers or other locally-sourced ingredients for your menu. Your food will be fresher, and you’ll be able to charge more because of it. Younger audiences in particular are more aware of ingredients than they were in the past, largely due to cooking shows, food as a culture, social media, and more.

If you can boast that you only use local ingredients, you’ll be able to retain customers, and potentially turn them into regulars who bring other friends and family to try your product. Also, you’ll be helping the local economy by buying locally and giving back to your community. Cookie-cutter big brands that ship ingredients from all over the place lack a certain quality in their food that you can capitalize on by cashing in on the local ingredients in your area.

4.  Vegetarian, Vegan, and Gluten-Free Options

Times have changed. Hardly any young person drinks whole milk anymore; it’s all almond, oat, soy, etc. Also, more people are becoming vegetarian and vegan as a whole. It’s believed to be a healthier, more sustainable way of living. Because that audience is growing substantially, your menu needs to adapt accordingly. Many modern restaurants offer full gluten-free, vegan, or vegetarian menus in addition to their original menu to make this process easier and more convenient for those customers.

But at the very least, have two or three options for these audiences and do them really well. Don’t just take the meat off an already existing recipe. Tailor new and exciting dishes around these accommodations to show those customers that they’re just as important to you as your carnivorous ones.

5.  To-Go and/or Delivery Capabilities

Some habits from the pandemic are here to stay, such as having strong to-go capabilities and delivery options. While DoorDash and Uber Eats exploded astronomically during the pandemic, they still remain as popular as they were then, even as people have returned to eating at restaurants. It’s important to ensure that everyone can gain access to your food, at least until you’ve grown to the point where they’ll always come to you.

Toast is a great platform for ordering to-go food in a way that gives more money back to the restaurant than a delivery company might. According to Business News Daily, Toast also has an all-in-one POS system, which “allows you to manage your restaurant’s front and back ends with features like delivery management, customized tipping, and tableside ordering.” Also, it, and other similar apps, allow customers to easily place orders with a few clicks on their phones.


To be successful in the modern restaurant industry, you need to be versatile in your offerings, menu options, atmosphere, and several other factors. Young people want a small menu with some dynamite food options on it, and a couple of drinks for a couple of bucks off. They want to be able to eat at your restaurant, whether they’re vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, or other accommodations.

They also want to order your food to their house, or at least have an option so they can swing by and pick it up easily on the way home from work. Local ingredients are a major bonus as well. Make sure you’re adapting to these modern trends and continuing to listen to your customers’ needs and following the trajectory of the industry.

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