Appealing to the New-Generation Gourmand
Millennials Eat, Too, So Restaurants Should Care How They Tick
BY GLORIA DAWSON
W
hen
Marco Chirico updat-
ed his family’s restaurant,
Marco Polo in Brooklyn, he
thought about what someone
like him, a millennial, might be looking
for when going out to eat.
There are two sides to dining, he fig-
ures: inside out and outside in. The older
generation looks inside out, focusing on
the professional service and food. “Younger
generations want good music and fun wait-
ers,” Chirico explains. That’s the outside
in. “The last thing that a lot of restaura-
teurs look at is the atmosphere. But that’s
what brings younger people in,” he adds.
In addition to updating the atmo-
sphere at Marco Polo, Chirico felt some
of the heavy, Italian dishes could be
reimagined to entice a more health-con-
scious diner. He also adjusted the
menu
to include meat-free options like polenta
and beans—despite his relatives wonder-
ing aloud why he would serve what they
referred to as “poverty dishes.”
Chirico,
of course, kept many meat dishes on the
menu. But for vegetarians to feel wel-
come, he knew there must be plenty of
options for them to eat.
Chirico isn’t alone in his menu re-
thinking. At another Brooklyn estab-
lishment, Bogota Latin Bistro, co-owner
Farid Lancheros finds that millennials are
often the ones requesting vegetarian and
gluten-free options, and he’s happy to ac-
commodate them. Although he’s not a
millennial himself (
millennials were born
between approximately 1980 and the ear-
ly 2000s)
, many on Lancheros’s front of
house team are, and he loves the energy
that they bring. “Millennials attract mil-
lennials,” he reasons.
That energy can certainly be felt at
Harlem Public, where all the managing
partners are millennials. We’ve created
“an atmosphere we ourselves would enjoy,
with a level of service we would appreci-
ate,” says Lauren Lynch, an owner.
Good Service, Happy Diners
The desire for good service appears to
be cross-generational, and that’s good
news for the team at Betony, a new
restaurant in Midtown. The restau-
rant’s location dictates a crowd with
a wide demographic range. There are
families on vacation staying in near-
by hotels, older couples that come in
before heading to Carnegie Hall, and
young professionals looking to blow
off a little steam after a long day at
the office.
Chef Bryce Shuman and General
Manager Eamon Rockey look at their
diverse diners as a blessing. They
planned Betony to be flexible and
comfortable for everyone. The food is
modern in presentation
“with recog-
nizable flavors,” says Shuman. “And
if it looks pretty it has to taste really
good, too. Because who doesn’t love
delicious stuff?”
The atmosphere at Betony also
merges typical generation genres. The
lavish grand space is complemented by
a minimalist style of service and mellow
soul music. Although they hope to reso-
nate with all generations, they know
they can’t be “be everything to every-
body,” said Rockey.
“We’re not opening up a mac and
cheese stand or a pizza joint, we’re pret-
ty specific with the food and the drinks.
The aim is that everybody can come
and sit down,” adds
Shuman, complet-
ing his colleague’s thought.
New York State Restaurant Association offers advocacy,
education and networking opportunities to its members,
as well as an array of money-saving programs related
to insurance and operations. For more information, visit
nysra.org or call 800-452-5212.
MEMO
FROM
NYSRA
1.
Find a balance between different
audiences without losing your identity.
2.
Get to know your customers and their
needs while considering their individual
personal boundaries.
3.
You can never go wrong with new takes
on classic cocktails.
4.
Healthy, organic and local are millennial
must-haves, but they transcend genera-
tions when they taste great.
5.
Look at your restaurant from the inside
(service and food) and from the outside
(atmosphere, noise level).
A CROSS-GENERATIONAL
RESTAURANT GUIDE
Betony Chef
Bryce Shuman and
General Manager
Eamon Rockey
82
BEVERAGE MEDIA
September 2013
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