The future of casual dining

From a recent presentation and anticipated casual dining report by Simon Stenning, we discuss the predictions for the future of casual dining in restaurants and pubs.

The Background

From 2013-2015, the casual dining industry received heavy investment, which led to significant expansion. With significant expansion, competition for ground space was high, pushing development costs up higher. This resulted in the cost of casual dining to be more expensive than previous years. This was not well timed, as the consumer’s purse was being pinched and had less disposable income than before.

It is evident that the industry continued to grow, but why?

Research taken from 50 major casual dining brands within the UK showed growth within the sector. An explanation for this is inflation and consumer distortion. People felt that their disposable income had increased, so spent more. Also, unemployment was at an all-time low, which saw December 2018 having a spend spike.

This was not to last though, with Brexit fears looming, consumers’ confidence in the government was low. Confidence in the Government has a direct consequence on the hospitality industry, as consumers become more conservative with their spending, predicting the future to be unsteady.

Surprisingly however, get the promotion right and restaurants can succeed, even in some of the toughest times.

For example, the phoenix from the ashes, Padella. It continued to be ahead of trend, with its gluten free menu options, and had queues around the block for their January 2019 promotion.


The future of casual dining…

By 2041 it is predicted that the population will have increased by 7.3 million, and tourism would have risen to 66.4 million by 2030. All these extra mouths increase the demand on the food service industry.

Great for the food service industry, but the demographic of the tourist is changing and restaurants will need to adapt in order to survive.

The aging population of the future heads of household will be aged 60+ and 80+. This means dining establishments will need to adapt their offering to cater for the younger and older generations who wish to dine together.

To fully understand this, the consumer market will need to be re-segmented to cater for all types of diner and dining experiences. And here they are…

Foodie Heaven

Chefs and restaurateurs that pick up on the latest food crazes, and create the must visit venue. Their restaurants will come and go as trends change.

Social Refuelling

Delivering a great eating experience, that can’t be described as ‘dining’ due to the simple, fast, value driven, tech enabled nature of refuelling, albeit in a social environment.


Meeting the needs of business, tourism, and consumers, celebrating special occasions, these sophisticated restaurant operations in urban / city centre locations will thrive.

Destination Dining

Those restaurants that are on bucket lists, awarded with Michelin stars or recognised by The Worlds 50 Best programmes.

Neighbourhood Chef-led

Lifestyle restaurants, from chefs who are not seeking awards, or recognition or even vast business empires, giving people who live in the neighbourhood a great place to eat.


Delivering a fun experience, in leisure-driven locations. These restaurants will meet the needs of the young and young at heart.

Premium Casual

Branded chain restaurants that are aimed at a more premium market, with more specialised cuisines or offers. Distinct and with smaller sites.

Casual dining

The old traditional, family favourites. Restaurants where you know exactly what you will get; these will need to contemporise to keep pace but will survive if they do

It is clear to see that dining and the consumer will change, and with the introduction of technology already taking place, the casual dining sector will need to know its core market and how to please them in order to survive.

The final predictions for the future trends in casual dining…

  • Veganism
  • Flexitarian Diets
  • Food Halls

Watch this space!

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