How to create a restaurant concept that will be a success with millennials

A survey recently found that millennials are generally pickier about the restaurants they choose to eat at and how they make decisions about where to eat. With that in mind, we take a look at how you can make a restaurant that resonates with millennials.

If you’re active on social media, then it will be no surprise to you that millennials spend a large proportion of their income in restaurants. Recent spending surveys have found that eating out is a higher priority for most youngsters than socialising or fashion, with 54 per cent of those aged 18-34 claiming they’re most likely to spend their disposable income dining out (Experian).

But with so much competition, how can restauranteurs cash in on this lucrative millennial market? The key to success is understanding what makes young diners tick and creating a concept to match. This guide will tell you how to reach out to younger diners, including tips on popular food trends, appealing to millennial values, and using social media to keep them coming back for more.

Use high-quality, authentic ingredients — and show them off

Millennial diners are concerned with where their food comes from, and they’ll pay more for ingredients which they think are top-quality, authentic and unique. Local, organic and artisanal produce are all especially desirable to millennial consumers, so wherever possible, you’ll want to opt for high-quality produce with these credentials.

This sort of food will show potential customers that you’re committed to quality, and it will also set you apart from big corporate chains, who are more likely to opt for mass-produced supplies. So, if you plan to serve local hand-reared beef or authentic buffalo mozzarella, then include this information on your menu and let your diners know about it.

Appeal to young diner’s values

Young people are more likely to be concerned about saving the environment, so a millennial-friendly restaurant concept should cater to their consciences, as well as their appetites. Presenting your restaurant as an eco-friendly option, and being vocal about your stance, will show young diners that you share the same mindset as them.

You can demonstrate your commitment to millennial values by serving exclusively non-GMO and organic foods, or by hosting supper clubs using unwanted waste produce. Or, if you want to offer food and drinks to go, you could consider using biodegradable and recyclable take-out disposables. To find more ideas (including tips on how to make the most of them in your publicity and marketing plan) take a look at this guide to eco-friendly practices from The Balance.

Get social with your dishes

Even if you create a brilliant restaurant concept, it won’t gain any traction among millennial foodies without some publicity. Given that most millennials use social media to research new eateries, it’s essential that you build some buzz around your restaurant on social channels. Instagram is an especially useful tool for restauranteurs, as it lets you (and your customers) share images of appetising dishes on social media.

If you’re not quite as savvy on social media as the millennial generation, then this guide to using social media to reach diners from catering specialists Alliance Online will help you get up to speed, including tips on how to take irresistibly shareable snaps of your dishes.

Provide a customisable menu

Millennials are individuals, each with unique tastes and preferences, and they want a menu that reflects this. That’s why customisable fast casual chains like Subway, Five Guys and PizzaStorm are so successful, because they give diners a chance to create a unique custom dish according to their tastes.

So, instead of offering a set menu with rigid options, consider offering a range of customisable dishes instead — offering your guests the chance to build a burger or select their own pizza toppings is sure to be a hit with diners. Other custom options could include a variety of pasta shapes, a choice of unusual side dishes, or letting guests create a sharing platter or tapas plates from a list of menu items. Giving millennials the option to customise their meal will also increase the number of dishes on your menu, meaning that young diners are more likely to keep coming back to try out new combinations.

Cater to increasingly-popular specialist diets

Although it may initially sound like a counterproductive idea, creating a menu which targets specific groups of diners can really make you stand out from the crowd. With an increasing number of young diners following special diets, restaurants catering to vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free and ‘clean-eating’ lifestyles are in high demand. So, targeting a smaller audience with more niche interests is a great way to secure the loyalty of millennial diners with specialist diets, who are more likely to opt for your business over a restaurant with a very limited specialist menu.

Let your branding tell a story

For millennial customers, the unique brand voice and story of your restaurant can be almost as appealing as the food. Young diners want to find restaurants which are full of fresh ideas and passion, so create a narrative about why you chose a particular restaurant concept. Did you see a gap in the market for a certain kind of quality food? Or were you frustrated with the way other restaurants do business? This is chance to show diners how you do things differently, so let your diners know.

Once you’ve created a backstory, you’ll want to share your story on your menu, website and social media accounts. Sharing your motivations and passions will give you a chance to show potential customers that you’re different from other restaurants, particularly corporate chains and franchises, which many young diners look to avoid.

Once you’re figured out how to crack the lucrative millennial market, attracting new diners is easy. And, given the money that millennial diners are willing to spend on restaurant dining, it can really pay to know how to reach out to them. Just bear these tips in mind, and you should be set for restaurant success.

See also: Opening a restaurant – The key ingredients to start-up success

Owen Gough

Fred Morissette

Owen Gough is a reporter for He has a background in small business marketing strategies and is responsible for writing content on subjects ranging from small business finance to technology...

Related Topics

Tech Startups