The dining options of the future may include increased dependence on takeout fare.
Thursday, May 18, 2000
This just in: In the year 2010, consumers will spend more than 53 percent of every food dollar on meals, snacks and beverages purchased away from home.
So says the National Restaurant Association. Today, we spend 44 percent. Back in 1955, it was a mere 25 percent. Anybody besides me see a trend here?
These guys also predict that the restaurant of the near future will have a separate section dedicated entirely just to takeout and delivery, so that the draft from the door constantly swinging open during the 5:30 rush doesn''t get on the nerves of the patrons who opt for the tablecloth.
The association even ventures to predict why you''ll be picking up the phone or queuing up at the counter to spend 53 percent of that food dollar outside of your own kitchen. It''s because you: (1) are in a hurry; (2) are tired; (3) require a "treat"; (4) require a "healthy" eating option; or conversely (5) don''t really care what you put in your face and just want to get rid of the hunger pangs.
Let''s say you''re (1) in a hurry. You and (5) should talk. "Food taste is secondary to convenience for these harried consumers," asserts the NRA. You have crumbs on your lapel because you frequently eat in the car, balancing French toast sticks in one hand, cell phone in the other and the steering wheel between your knees, you overachiever, you. The "no other choice" (5) consumer only eats to live. "What''s the GMO Special come with? Soylent green? Yeah, OK."
Then there''s (2), the fatigued diner. "Tired consumers don''t have any interest in or energy to fix a meal," continues the report. "Frequently facing hungry kids at the end of a long day, they are happiest with meals that take as little effort as possible on their part." If you''re (2), you''re also on the lookout for big portioned bargain fare. If you can re-pack it for little Billy Jr.''s lunchbox the next day, there''s more time for channel surfing.
Finally the NRA thinktank gives us someone likable. If it''s your culinary destiny to be (3), you have a sense of discretion and believe in indulging yourself, as long as it''s in good, well-prepared food. Your friend (4) feels much the same way, as long as the food''s organic and hormone-free. There we have it: an explanation for the soaring sales of gourmet cookware and the plethora of cooking magazines at the newsstand is apparently another study.
Even those of us who love good food and the soulfulness of preparing it ourselves, with our own hands, will admit that humping the daily 9 to 5 can throw a wet blanket over our fave recipe fantasies. Let it be known that there is relief. There''s a new game in town; it''s called Doorbell Dining, and as the name would imply, they ring the doorbell and you do the dining.
After running a cabin camp on the Medicine River up in Montana, David and Heather Stewart felt like doing something different. Heather is originally from Prunedale, and temperatures registering in the positive integers had come to hold a certain allure. One may assume that a gourmet food delivery service might also be something one could miss on the Medicine River.
The Stewarts hooked up with a number of local restaurants, and Doorbell Dining was born. Pick up the phone, dial 384-FOOD and have your lunch (11am-2pm, Monday-Friday) or dinner (4:30-9pm, daily) delivered from Allegro, Epsilon, India''s Clay Oven, Goomba''s Kitchen, Victorian Corner Restaurant, the Tinnery, Chili Great Chili, Pasta Mia, Thai Cafe, Golden Buddha, Sidelines Sushi or Takara Sushi. While you''re at it, order up a Macanudo Baron de Rothschild cigar for dessert, fresh from Hellam''s Tobacco Shop.
"More and more, we''re making an effort to accommodate the special needs of our customers," Heather notes. "If it''s a gift basket filled with Champagne, fresh flowers and Belgian chocolates, we''ll customize it to our client''s specifications."
And Pebble Beach-ians may take cheer; their doorbells are given equal opportunity. Having foregone the pleasures of bunny slipper-dining for time immemorial, they now may order with abandon without putting down the remote.