In the not so distant past, fine dining was the predominant hospitality concept. The experience was decidedly more formal and dressing up was expected. Who can forget the self-conscious patron obliged to wear one of the ill-fitting house sportcoats?
Obviously, things are much different now. Society has gotten more casual. Just think of the informality that’s become acceptable at church, the office, and with public officials. The fine dining segment has become less prevalent and casual dining has grown to be the preferred hospitality option. As the restaurant, bar and tavern (RBT) market has evolved, today’s operators have adapted to their customer’s changing expectations.
The Evolution of the Restaurant, Bar, and Tavern (RBT) Market
A recent interview with the owners of Savona restaurant on Philadelphia’s Main Line, a former white tablecloth type dining establishment that’s now a casual restaurant, reiterated the dynamic nature of today’s hospitality market:*
- People want to be at ease. They do not want the experience to be intimidating or mystifying.
- They want to dress comfortably and don’t want it to feel stuffy.
- The expectation remains for classic high quality food, glassware, china and silverware.
- Service must be seamless, with a knowledgeable waitstaff that’s also friendly.
- Consistency is critical, but the atmosphere and excitement must be continuously reinvented.
- The value proposition must be regularly evaluated versus increased and motivated competition.
Product and service standards remain high, but the atmosphere should be informal and relaxing. It is a delicate balance. Casual dining can include higher alcohol sales, takeout and delivery options, and live entertainment. Insurance programs, and agents who provide service to the hospitality industry, must appreciate the challenges facing RBT operators. The property and liability coverage offered has to be fine-tuned to current needs, but flexible enough to embrace new opportunities.
*Philadelphia Inquirer, Food Q & A, Michael Klein, 10/16/16, pg. H17
**Patriot National Hospitality is an insurance program distributed through the licensed insurance agency Patriot Underwrites, Inc.