CHICAGO — Customer visits to fine dining establishments has rebounded from double-digit declines the segment experienced during the recession, according to The NPD Group.
Visits to fine dining establishments climbed 5% in the year ended Dec. 30, 2013, compared with double-digit visit declines during the same period in 2008, according to NPD, a leading global information company. The fine dining segment represents a small share of the overall food service industry, NPD noted, but the segment holds a 14% share of food service consumer spending. The segment has led visits in the food service industry for the past three years. Gains in visits to fine dining restaurants led the food service industry in 2013.
Relaxed dress codes, added value and culinary innovations are ways in which the fine dining segment has evolved to meet customer needs, according to NPD. As an example of culinary innovation, many fine dining restaurants have added gourmet twists to familiar comfort foods, such as burgers or sandwiches, NPD said. Additionally, upscale hotel chains have hired top chefs to revamp the restaurant menus to prevent guests from dining elsewhere, NPD added.“Fine dining restaurant operators are listening and responding to marketplace needs,” said Bonnie Riggs, NPD restaurant industry analyst. “There was a time when many of these restaurants were in such high demand that they decided who could visit and what they would pay. The recession hit and there was more supply than demand. Fine dining operators responded by making the changes necessary to appeal to their customer base and their customers have responded.”