How restaurants evolve to meet changing customer needs
(Family Features) In the highly competitive restaurant industry, it’s crucial to continually evolve and transform in order to stay relevant and attract customers. Restaurant transformation involves re-evaluating the image, menu, ambiance and overall experience. It’s a process that can be challenging, but when done successfully, it can lead to increased customer loyalty, improved sales and long-term growth.
Take for example Fogo de Chão, which has practiced the authentic, centuries-old Brazilian grilling practice of churrasco, or cooking over an open flame, since 1979 at more than 70 locations around the world. Each meal is about discovery with a menu that’s fresh, unique, innovative and centered around premium cuts of grilled proteins, expertly butchered and simply seasoned using the culinary art of churrasco.
The full churrasco experience includes continual service of fire-roasted meats carved tableside, including house specialties like picanha (signature sirloin), filet mignon, ribeye, fraldinha (bottom sirloin), cordeiro (lamb) and more.
Consumers are always looking for new and exciting dining experiences, and a menu refresh can provide it. This can involve adding new dishes, changing the way existing dishes are prepared or presented and incorporating current food trends. For example, many restaurants are offering more vegetarian and vegan options to cater to the growing number of consumers adopting plant-based diets.
Leaning into this trend, Fogo de Chão is expanding its menu and Market Table offerings with new plant-based and nutrient-dense dishes, alongside an expanded Bar Fogo beverage program complete with traditional and clean, zero-proof cocktails. The plant-based offerings include menu innovations like Seared Tofu with Miso Black Bean Pasta and a hearty Roasted Power Vegetable Bowl that complements a myriad of dietary lifestyles. Taking it a step further, guests can enjoy indulgent, premium cuts within the churrasco experience at no additional cost. This added value introduces guests to new flavors in a low-risk setting by including a variety of options like bone-in ribeye, double-cut pork chop and lamb picanha.
Another important aspect of transformation is redesigning the restaurant’s physical space. A restaurant’s ambiance can greatly impact customers’ dining experiences, and a refreshed decor can help to create a more modern, welcoming and comfortable environment. With new locations opening in markets coast-to-coast, the experiential dining experts are revamping interiors to create unique and architecturally led dining spaces that create a memorable hospitality experience. The additions of lounge and conversational seating for more comfortable dining, large patio spaces for al fresco dining and open kitchens help immerse guests in the experience, which appeals to the modern diner.
In addition to these changes, restaurants may also need to re-evaluate and adjust marketing strategies as their customer bases change. This may involve shifting branding to appeal to a younger demographic, for example, or focusing on a specific type of cuisine or dining experience. Designed to enhance the guest experience and move beyond just a sit-down dinner, the churrasco experience at Fogo de Chão appeals to a younger, highly diverse audience with 87% of guests being Millennial, Gen X and Gen Z customers, 41% of whom are female.
Options like Bar Fogo, which features All-Day Happy Hour; shareable Brazilian-inspired bar bites such as Lobster and Shrimp Tacos and Queijo Assado, a grilled Brazilian cheese served with malagueta honey; South American-inspired cocktails, beers and wine; or The Butchery, where premium cuts of meats, carved in the traditional Brazilian style, can be taken to go for cooking at home, allow for new ways to experience the traditional cuisine.
“Nearly 45 years ago, Fogo was created on the strong foundation of authentic Brazilian hospitality and delivering unique experiences to our guests,” said Barry McGowan, CEO of Fogo de Chão. “Today, we’ve evolved from a small restaurant in the countryside of southern Brazil to a global category leader celebrating the culinary art of churrasco. Restaurant transformation is necessary to stay competitive in today’s fast-paced and evolving industry. All of our transformation efforts continue to be rooted in innovation to enhance the guest experience while remaining true to our Brazilian heritage.”
Learn more and find a local restaurant near you at fogo.com.