Local vs. Chain Restaurants: Who’s Winning?

Chain restaurants have been dominating America for years. McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Olive Garden, Applebee’s, the list goes on, but things are changing. Pentallect, Inc., an industry researcher in Chicago, estimates that independently owned restaurants will grow 5% through the year 2020. Currently, local restaurants are taking the lead which some might find shocking but it actually makes sense.

Why are local restaurants growing in popularity? Think about it, chain restaurants may have their claim to fast service and convenient locations but everyone knows how that story goes. Nowadays, people want something more. They want something Instagram and Facebook worthy, something they can tell their friends about because this is the social age everyone is taking part. Customers are more interested in the dining experience rather than the same old fast food routine. Local restaurants have the advantage of providing personalized service because they are community oriented.

More and more Americans are going out to eat and generally, people want to try something new. Authenticity is an overall trend for a lot of things, including the dining experience. Customers associate local restaurants with having better food, more accommodating services, and even a more appealing atmosphere. Lately, chain restaurants have been trying to change up their decor from one location to another. But in the end, they still look similar. Customers are more likely to share the experience they had at a local restaurant, rather than the time they went to a chain restaurant that everyone has heard about.

In the world of advertising, repetition is one of the main strategies to get information out to the public. A lot of chain restaurants advertise constantly, while local restaurants usually advertise by word of mouth. As a whole, people don’t see a need to review chain restaurants and are more likely to give a review for a local restaurant. People are also more interested in reading reviews on local restaurants when they are looking for a new place to dine. Chain restaurants are noticing this overall change and are working towards facing their future growth challenges.

As of right now, local restaurants are the new trend and their popularity only seems to be growing. Times are changing and so is the way people choose to enjoy their food. This year people are indulging more in quality over quantity, their surroundings, and the ability to share stories about their best experiences.