Nine in 10 restaurant operators say their guests are more knowledgeable about food than they used to be and pay more attention to food quality than just two years ago, according to the National Restaurant Association's (NRA) 2015 Restaurant Industry Forecast.
"As dining out has grown into an everyday activity over the last few decades, we essentially have become a generation of 'foodies' with a much wider base of experience and trial of new cuisines and flavors than previous generations," said Annika Stensson, director of research communications for the NRA. "Growth of international travel and increased diversity of cuisines offered here at home have driven today's diners to be more adventurous and generally more willing to try new things when dining out."
NRA research shows that 64 percent of consumers consider themselves more adventurous in their food choices when dining out now than just two years ago. This sentiment is even stronger among millennials, where 77 percent consider themselves more food adventurous.
Seventy-two percent of consumers also say that restaurant food provides tastes and flavors they can't duplicate at home, which especially true for global cuisines. Roughly seven out of 10 consumers say they are more likely to try ethnic cuisines in a restaurant than they are trying to cook such dishes at home.
The rise of ethnic cuisines has been evolving for decades, resulting in ethnic cuisines and flavors increasingly making their way onto mainstream menus. Currently, more than a third of restaurant operators say they offer ethnic cuisine items outside of their main menu theme, with the highest number reported among fine-dining restaurants (51 percent) and casual-dining restaurants (48 percent). In addition, a majority of operators believe this will become even more common in the future.