Maureen 2019Dining out is a popular activity all over the world, but in America it has become so commonplace and so central to our cultural experience that restaurant trends can’t help but reflect the national zeitgeist. These trends are truly a reflection of who we are and what is on our minds.

According to a 30-year study completed in 2018 by the USDA, spending on food away from home exceeded spending on food bought and prepared in the home in 2010 for the first time in recorded history. And, according to the National Restaurant Association, total restaurant sales in 2023 will approach the $1 trillion mark.

No matter how you measure it and no matter how blurry the line between meals prepared inside and outside the home becomes, restaurants are a bigger part of our lives than ever before. And they can help us understand economic and cultural trends.

So, what are those trends telling us right now? Well, “Back to the Future,” on page 32, gives us one really interesting trend to consider: The move toward nostalgia. What I found so interesting about this trend is that it is not being driven by the usual suspects — it’s not just appealing to the Gen Xers, a group that one might expect to feel nostalgic at this point in their lives. Millennials are apparently feeling nostalgic as well, with the vast majority saying they would purchase a favorite nostalgic food or beverage.

Perhaps the pace of change in our modern lives is making us all long for the good ol’ days.

For a different perspective on some of the other trends that we are following, check out our recent Consultants’ Roundtable webcast on sister magazine site It offers a really great conversation among peers sharing their keen professional insights.

All the best,