Millennial Dining Habits Restaurateurs Should Know About

Millenials as we know, have a strong penchant for experience be it dating over settling down, hopping from jobs over climbing the corporate ladder, traveling and possibly even prefer obscure eateries to casual dining. The latest poll found that millennials are shaping the trends of the restaurant brand landscape into what they want them to be more than the previous generation has. Restaurant companies are taking careful notes to this phenomenon and therefore are doing everything they can to attract and build a younger clientele base.

They Look For Brands that Translate into Experience

Luring 18 - 33 year old crowds to your venue with effective restaurant brands is essential as reports expect their spending habits to peak in the coming years. According to the most recent report by Morgan Stanley, many chain restaurants are struggling because the dining etiquette and habits of millenials are dramatically different than that of the previous generation. Millennials and food have a complicated relationship with each other. To them, dining out is more than just eating. They spend their hard earned money at their favorite restaurant with the expectations of having the experience to remember. Albeit being the toughest crowd to please, patrons born between 1977 and 2000 are known for being the largest and most influential generation of consumers in the food industry. Hence, millennials are sought-after customers for fast food chains who are trying to make their restaurant brands more relevant.

They Eat Out More Often and Expect Quick Affordable Service

Statistics shown by analysts reveal that millennials tend to eat out more often than Generation X and Baby Boomers. 53% of millennials go out to eat at least once a week in comparison to 43% of the general population. Quick service restaurants are their most preferred venues to dine at, such as McDonalds or Subway. Casual dining establishments such as Olive Garden or Applebee’s are frequented by 71% of millennials next to 56% for fast casual restaurants like Five Guys, Chipotle, and Panera Bread. Millennials naturally favor convenience and choose quick service restaurants for that reason. They like to eat food with their hands as opposed to preparing and cooking their own meals. Because fast food chains are on a budget, they personify the needs of millennials. The wait time to be seated is minimal and food is served almost immediately. While millennials seek adventure, they do not appreciate surprises when it comes to eating out. Chains work effortlessly to meet the millennial demands of reliability. Consistency is key to retaining millennial customers.

Technology Plays an Important Role in Ambience and Sales

While Baby Boomers don’t seem to be pestered by a stream of servers waiting on them, Millennials feel differently. Technology is thought to enhance their dining experience and eliminate the problem of being constantly fussed over by waiters. Mobile rewards are one of the many restaurant technology trends that are becoming more popular by demand. Because restaurants are more like food events to them, ambience can either make or break your restaurant business. Millennials typically come to plug in, socialize with friends, take an Instagram photo, listen to a couple of tunes on Spotify, and sometimes tweet their experiences on Twitter.


Restaurants are taking all of this into account by introducing more stylish restaurant furniture, installing flat screen televisions, offering free Wi-Fi, and sometimes hosting live entertainment with their favorite artists. In efforts to keep up with millennial restaurant dining trends, their goal is to create a lounge-like dining atmosphere for millennials to capture on their Smartphones or iPhones to share with others.

They Have Your Business at Their Fingertips

Because convenience takes precedent to millennials, the food industry is turning to mobile solutions to ensure customer satisfaction. In efforts to cater to their younger customers, restaurateurs are becoming masters in technology. As such, many chains are developing mobile apps to catch the interest on their millennial customers. These apps are largely seen as a successful business venture among millennials and other busy customers looking for easier ways to order their meals. Restaurants with mobile apps have claimed to witness an upward spike in sales. Success of the mobile app program is measured by the effectiveness and elements it includes: mobile payments, loyalty programs, mobile ordering, and even sending gifts to others. An informal collective survey of millennial restaurant employees shows that interaction with Smartphone apps consume up to 40 percent of their dining experience.

They Understand the Power of Social Media

Social media is another tool that restaurants are using to win the hearts of millennials. Various platforms like Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook enable restaurateurs to engage their brands with new and enthusiastic customers. While user-generated content may be helpful, food makes for a wonderful digital imagery that tends to captivate viewers more. Millennials are more likely to share their dining experience with friends through social media. As a restaurant owner who wishes to enthrall your millennial crowd, uploading images and videos on a regular basis is one of your best marketing maneuvers you can make. Featuring a playful and fun tone on your social media channel that is congruent with your restaurant brand can keep your customers engaged. A picture says a thousand words, especially in this case but quality reigns supreme.

They Made Social/Environmental Causes and Eating Healthy Fashionable

As a more socially and (health) conscious generation, millennials want to feel good about the choices they make – which extends to their eating habits. While previous generations calculated their calorie intake, millennials care more about the food they eat being fresh and local. They are part of the driving forces behind giving healthful eating a new definition and even making it into a trend. They view health through a holistic lens where they see eating a healthy restaurant meal as something organic, made with fresh ingredients, or is vegetarian/vegan. Millennials eating healthy are more likely to use customization, especially at vegan restaurants, as a way to create their ideal healthy meal. However, 17% of millennial customers feel they are missing out when ordering from healthy options. It is therefore imperative upon restaurant owners, managers and kitchen staff alike to strike a perfect balance of healthy yet indulgent dishes that this age group will appreciate at most.


Restaurants that are more eco-friendly are likely to score brownie points with their younger patrons. They are just as happy as their older counterparts to participate in social causes and therefore seek brands who give back to their communities. As restaurateurs are becoming more educated on the subject of food waste and its disastrous effects on their business, they are taking preventative measures by instituting recycling programs as well as donating a surplus of unused produce to charity organizations.

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