Menu trends come and go, but nostalgia is something that diners have consistently looked for from their favourite restaurant menus. Studies show that 71 per cent of guests are looking to enjoy dishes from their youth, so incorporating some of the classics on your menu can set you apart from your competition and attract interest in your restaurant.
According to experts, some of the most popular menu items are s’mores, fruit leather, baked Alaska, pizza bites, slushies, orange creamsicles, retro candy, and more. Some restaurants are embracing this trend in the traditional sense, featuring classics like mac and cheese, while others are focused on newstalgia and putting their stamp on traditional favourites for more upscale versions.
Many restaurants have found that balance by bringing back discontinued menu items to generate excitement and up their sales. Pizza Hut has brought back its popular Big New Yorker, Taco Bell has resurrected the Beefy Crunch Taco, and Tim Horton’s re-added the Cheery Stick and Walnut Crunch to their menu for a limited time. Some restaurants are using these nostalgic items as LTOs, and some have added them back to the menu without a set time limit.
Whether it’s due to popular demand or just a desire to recognize a previous menu winner, restaurants are getting attention and attracting guests with a return to some of their past hits.
If you’re thinking about going a little more retro with your menu, choose your dishes wisely. According to experts, not all classics are treasured, with things like shrimp cocktail, tuna casserole, and fondue likely to disappear from the fan favourites list in the near future.
And nostalgia doesn’t just refer to dishes or ingredients, themed restaurants and events are making a comeback, too. Restaurants featuring everything from Barbie to the Rat Pack are popping up to give diners that retro experience. It’s all about the experience for today’s restaurant-goers, from the menu to the atmosphere.
As diners continue to seek out fresh flavours and experiences, they are so often drawn back to the comfortable dishes from their youth. Using a combination of the traditional and the new, along with creative takes on old favourites, will help restaurants interest new guests and appeal to those diners looking for nostalgia on the menu.