Culinary experiences are more than just great food. Cozy atmosphere, menus that don’t overwhelm, and personalized service are attractions that most diners seek. While this has been traditionally true for decades now, a trend is building towards restaurants that are little more than a kitchen and a small dining counter. Restaurants following the micro restaurant trend often look and feel like indoor food trucks with their limited menus, quicker diner turnarounds, and often a dedicated takeout or delivery space at the counter. Remember: good things can still come in small packages!
Understanding the Ins and Outs of Micro Restaurant Operations
QSRs and traditional sit-down restaurants often follow the same basic rules: Make your offerings appealing to as many palettes as possible while getting as many people in and out of your doors in short time frames. While the basic concept of feeding delicious food to a customer still holds true, micro restaurants have largely taken conventional wisdom and turned it upside down. So, if a micro restaurant isn’t really a QSR, but isn’t quite large enough to be a traditional fine dining or family dining establishment, what exactly is it?
Micro restaurant operations can vary widely, making this restaurant market niche especially difficult to grasp. We have discovered three primary types of micro restaurants and while these are very open to interpretation, they should give you a good glimpse into this emerging dining trend.
- The QSR that is not a QSR. This is perhaps the most common of the three main types of micro restaurants. These are the food trucks and carts of the industry. Sometimes they even offer delivery. Menus, hours, and seating are all typically very limited. Costs in these are minimal thanks to the smaller space requirements when compared to a QSR, and the minimal menu, which makes stocking ingredients much easier and less prone to waste.
- Quick and easy counter service. Stationary walk-up counters are the next level up from trucks and carts. These are similar to small trucks but have the added benefit of dedicated restaurant space. Seating might consist of the occasional outdoor bench or a few patio tables and chairs since many walk-up counters are situated on building exteriors. Counter eateries often have small menus that specialize in a handful of items.
- Fine dining…sort of. Think of your classic sushi bar. At first glance, the bar has all the makings of a high-scale, fine dining establishment. But on closer examination, the space is actually quite small. In this particular case, it looks like an exclusive bar with eight stools, except instead of bartenders on the other side of the bar there are sushi chefs. Often, restaurants like this have very small menus that may even change daily based on ingredient freshness and market availability.
While the micro restaurant trend is catching the eyes of entrepreneurs around the world, how does it fare with the diner?
What’s the Appeal to the Everyday Diner?
Establishing a base of returning customers is a must for any restaurant to maintain profitability. The micro restaurant trend has the challenge of transcending the traditional approaches to dining out in order to achieve success. This challenge can be addressed by leveraging the unique qualities of the genre itself to blend itself into the restaurant marketplace seamlessly, but only if they can appeal to varying ranges of clientele.
Tastes are fickle things, and restaurants following the micro restaurant trend by nature are not equipped to serve all of them. However, their strengths lie in the ability to be nimble and responsive to their customers, as well as the ability to keep menus fresh. The flexibility to change along with the tastes of the crowd provides the micro restaurant owner with multiple avenues of success. Fine dining menus can be easily adjusted to appeal to a style of cuisine that is under-represented in an area or celebrate the freshest produce. Specialty foods can be rotated, adding to the uniqueness of the establishment.
On top of this, the micro restaurant trend allows restaurants to provide their customers with a sense of exclusivity that makes them feel as though they’re members of an elite club that gets to partake in your food. Take New York City pizzeria Lucali, for example. This Brooklyn-based hotspot is considered to be the best pizza in the borough by many. They can only host a limited amount of diners and since they don’t take reservations, you’d think the lengthy wait times would turn customers off but the food is so good that it only adds to Lucali’s intrigue.
Technology and the Micro Restaurant Trend
If you’re considering running a space that consists of a kitchen and a limited dining area, you might think that your restaurant doesn’t need to invest in any added tech to succeed. However, micro restaurants are often limited in terms of their staff and unless you feel comfortable doing just about everything yourself, you may want to invest in an upgraded point of sale system.
This makes it easier to accept a wider variety of payments and if you often find yourself with long lines during mealtime rushes, you can even invest in a tablet to have one employee take orders and do a bit of line busting while another prepares food. Plus, since micro restaurants often change their menus on the fly, you don’t have to spend too much time tinkering with your food offerings and can make alterations much more quickly. Also, for your best sellers, you can set up automated low stock alerts that let you know when you’re low on certain ingredients and products.
Integrating Tech to Develop Your Own Micro Restaurant Trend
Successful restaurant operations are leaning more and more on high-tech solutions to meet the demands of today’s customers. Since micro restaurants tend to be temperamental, it’s important to partner with a third party provider that can help guide your business in the right direction while also fulfilling your tech needs.
Our expertise in helping restaurateurs find effective ways to integrate technology gives you an edge over the competition. Your solution rapidly becomes a valuable asset in your restaurant. With talech at your side, you gain an indispensable partner that will work with you from start to finish in identifying and implementing applicable restaurant trends. Contact us today to sign up for a demo and to learn more about how talech can be your expert POS partner.