Trends AssignmentCultural Diversity in Todays Restaurants By Dan Sanderson Jeremy Salentine Dylan Evenson Hospitality Marketing & Sales UW-Stout Menomonie November 11, 2012
The United States was created and established by immigrants coming from Europe in the earlyseventeen hundreds. Today immigration rates are increasing day in and day out. The majority ofrestaurants today target one food ethnicity for their restaurant identity, for example Chinese, Mexican,Indian, Vietnamese, Hmong, Italian, and American. The catch in this trend is that some restaurants todayare trying to create a menu with different ethnic sections consisting of different dishes to offer from thatculture. By creating establishments like this it eliminates the option of choice in choosing where to eatreferring to ones preferred taste for the night. For example a family wants to go out to dinner. The dadsays to the family, “What do you guys want for dinner tonight?” One of the children says Chinese, theother says Mexican, and the mother says Italian. This forces the family to compromise and make adecision where and what type of food they want for dinner. This family dilemma is no longer an issuebecause of this trend of multicultural restaurants. Now the whole family can be satisfied and nocompromise needs to be made if a restaurant that serves all these types of foods is available. Peopletoday are giving this trend a name for example “Spoon Full Of The City” and “Whole World On aPlate.” These titles are only fitting because every year Caucasians are becoming the lesser-populatedminority in the United States and more ethnicities are taking the place as the higher populated cultures.To keep up with the demand, restaurants are realizing what is happening and adjusting correctly. Theyare including more and more ethnic dishes to suit said cultures, which in return keeps the “used to be”minorities coming back for more. Also, more restaurants are becoming more profitable in regards tosuiting everyone’s palette regardless of the ethnicity in a single restaurant setting. In retrospect, foodestablishments are using this trend to attract multi-ethnic groups. For example in Minnesota there is arestaurant called African Forest Restaurant. They state on their website it is their duty to focus onservicing Minnesota’s growing immigrant community’s demand for an ethnic eating experience. Forlack of better term, the African Forest Restaurant is a multi-ethnic cuisine restaurant that responds toMinnesota’s immigrant community need for selection and choice. This is a local example which helpsthe consumers understand the restaurant markets understanding that they need to deliver the consumer avariety of ethnic foods that suit multiple desires and preferences all in one place. This benefits a largercustomer base such as families, business gatherings, social events, get togethers, and dates byeliminating compromising and argumentation in regards to where to eat. “Overall places that identifythemselves as ethnic establishments numbered nearly 78,000 in 1999 and recorded sales of $30.5billion. Our research results do not identify any single ethnic style of restaurant as desired, but rathersuggest that incorporating strong multi-ethnic influences in the menu selection will be popular. Again,variety is the underlying element for thisconcept.(http://www.bplans.com/ethnic_food_restaurant_business_plan/market) There are multiple accounts of this trend appearing across the nation. The areas and destinationthese multi-ethnic restaurants are appearing include large cities and living areas with a diversepopulation and a variety of ethnicities and cultures. They are also being established close to airports andin high traffic tourism areas like casinos, resorts and hotels. These multi-ethnic restaurants are choosingthese destinations because their menus, environment and dishes attract guests who have different tastepreferences associated with their cultural association and nationality food preferences. The most difficultpiece to obtain for these restaurants is having the ability and knowledge to properly cook a variety ofethnic foods. The majority of restaurants in existence focus only on a certain ethnicity of food. In orderto bridge the gap between ethnic food preferences many of these restaurants are creating dishesexplained by them as having “ethnic fusion.” Basically ethnic fusion is the act of combining two ormore ethnic flavors and styles in an individual dish. A common example found across the board wascreating different sandwiches with a variety of ethnic foods dishes inside. An example of this type of restaurant is the African Forest Restaurant. This multi-ethnic cuisineis located in Brooklyn Park Minnesota, a southern suburb of the Twin Cities. There focus is “servicing
Minnesota’s growing immigrant community’s demand for an ethnic eating experience.” Their multi-ethnic cuisine allows the Twin Cities immigrant community a selection and choice suitable to theirnationalities and ethnicities. They even have a separate menu available designed specifically for theircustomers demographics and preferences. Some of their specialties include a variety of Africanethnicity dishes from Eastern Africa to Western Africa. They also serve a variety of American, Asian,Caribbean and barbecue dishes. Their food services are aimed to satisfy the variety of nationalitiesliving in the area as well as people who are visiting the Twin Cities for entertainment and a good meal. Another example that models the idea of this trend of multi-ethnic dining is Zara Restaurant andLounge located in Midtown Atlanta. This restaurant is very versatile and they designed their businessplan to attract a number of groups who desire a variety of eating settings. The settings available includea tapas lounge, cosmopolitan bar as well as a full service dining area. Having a variety of eatingenvironments assures a suitable setting for guests desiring different types of environments to match thesituation they are looking to meet. Zara Restaurant and Lounges main objective is to meet the growingdemand for a variety of ethnic eating experiences all under the same roof. They label themselves as, “acomplimentary mingling of international cuisine on a single menu.” Not only does this provides adesirable opportunity for travelers but also caters to the midtown demographics of Atlanta. In order tosuccessfully provide an environment and dishes, they have a diverse management and chef team to meetthe expectations that guests in search of multi-ethnic eateries are interested in. Both of these restaurant examples are adapting their menus and environments for the growingdiverse demographics associated with their locations. In order to improve sales and capacity on a day today basis, targeting a growing population of consumer preferences is critical. Tourist destinations andcasinos can also benefit from multi-ethnic dining services. These destinations have a particularly highnumber of tourists from all over the world. In order to better suite their desired experiences, thesedestinations and tourist locations are also providing a larger variety of shows, music and entertainmentto attract the desires of tourists with different preferences. Ultimately in many business environments the overall goal is to provide services and productsthat the customer or guest is looking for. Increasing the variety of service and products targets a largerpopulation of consumers and guests. Targeting a variety of cultural market segments by offering a morediverse service or experience increases the opportunity for more business and sales. If a givendestination is capable of suiting a group of guests due to their variety of options, they eliminate otherdestinations due to their ability to suit everyones desires.http://www.africanforestrestaurant.com/http://equityshack.com/node/45 For our expert interview, we contacted the owner of restaurant, the African Forest Restaurant, wementioned earlier in our paper. The owner/manager’s name is Carl Hughes. Carl is very experienced inthe service industry as he owns four restaurants in the great Minneapolis region. Carl graduated with aMBA from the University of Minnesota’s Carlton School of Business. He opened the African ForestRestaurant back in 2008 with the intention of reaching out to Minnesota growing population ofminorities. We think it is safe to say that he made a great decision! Now in regards to seeing what Carl had to say in answering question number one, Carl’sresponse was adamant to say the least. Carl stated that, “This is something more restaurants should bedoing. You simply have to adapt to the demographic, and in my case, the demographic of growingminorities in the metropolitan region.” Now we couldn’t have said it better ourselves. It is our opinionthat in order for a business to succeed, they must simply convey to what the consumers want, not what
the management or owner thinks is right. As more and more minorities continue to grow in the UnitedStates, they are surely bringing their cultural practices with them. These cultural practices will drive anddictate the restaurant market and related food venues. SO doesn’t it make sense to appeal to thecustomer’s tastes, backgrounds, and wants when it comes to running a restaurant? Now when we asked Carl about what he thought of the this cultural trend moving forward, hesimply said, “It WILL continue to grow. I can bet you that you will see more and more restaurants dowhat I’m doing now.” Carl is probably right. If you were a smart restaurant owner in a multi-ethicpopulated region, you should broaden your food cultures to fit what the multi-ethic interests in food are. Moreover, when asked about what it will take to stay ahead of this trend in regards to thechanging economic structure and rival restaurants, Carl said, “It’s going to be about who goes most in-depth with their menus. And who is going to be willing to go the extra mile to provide that unique,perfect sense of other’s cultures.” Once again, we believe Carl is right. The restaurants that are lookingto stay ahead of the competition will definitely have to be as AUTHENTIC as possible. It is commonsense really. The more guests you want to attract, the more authentic and in-depth you are going to haveto be with their cultures and food related interests.