The Evolution of Modern Steakhouse

restaurant tables

The classic steakhouse reigned supreme for years, starting in the mid-1800s in the U.S., and became a mainstay of American dining in the 1950s and 60s.

Picture it: crisp white tablecloths and candlelit tables with fine china. Diners would only visit for a special occasion, and they’d order a martini or dark red wine with T-bone and a side of creamed spinach and a choice of baked or mashed potato.

Chefs would only peek out of the kitchen occasionally, as they, nor the rest of the staff, never interacted much with guests. The menu is small, your cuts are classic – and your menu isn’t changing anytime soon.

While those premium, classic steakhouse experiences of yesteryear still hold a warm place in many people’s hearts, the concept has transformed as consumer tastes have evolved the modern steakhouse.

Customer expectations are higher than ever. People travel more, and they have more information about food. Generally speaking, consumers are more adventurous about tasting the unknown.
– Janet Bourbon, Sterling Silver Chef

Adapting to Changing Tastes

Today’s steakhouse is created with Millennials in mind: social, communal, casual and those in search of a truly unique dining experience. Datassential reported that 35 percent of consumers are on-board with the idea of modern steakhouse, and 23 percent have already visited at least one1.

12017 Starters, Small Plates Consumer Trend Report, Technomic.

of consumers are excited by the idea of a modern steakhouse

of consumers agreed that small plates are a great way to share with a larger group

Consumers are looking for a social atmosphere when dining out. Instead of secluded booths, they’re gathering at long, shared tables where they can sit alongside each other to share plates and take photos.  

Speaking of sharing: it’s the preferred way to eat a meal. 42 percent of diners think that small plates are perfect to share with a big group, according to 2017 Technomic Consumer Trends research2. Modern steakhouse guests dine in a group, with each member of the party tasting and passing plates, all in anticipation for the next.

The key word when thinking about today’s steakhouse ambiance is vibrant: from colors to sights to sounds and, of course, the food. Lively and casual, customers will be surrounded with an exciting sensory experience that hits them all at once. 

The bar is not only out in the open, it’s the focus of the steakhouse and its menu is full of craft cocktails, local beers, unique wines and even non-alcoholic options that help guests feel like they’re drinking something truly special​.​

Rather than being intimidated by their server, diners are feeling more empowered to make dining and drink choices with a little bit of coaching from the knowledgeable and approachable waitstaff.

Save the Cookie Cutters for Dessert

While the steakhouse as an entity has morphed and evolved over the years to today’s modern steakhouse, there is no cookie-cutter version of what one should be. As each and every chef has a unique perspective that they bring to their establishment, no two modern steakhouses will be the same. 

And any type of restaurant can be a modern steakhouse, whether you’re a southern comfort food, Japanese, French bistro or Brazilian churrasco eatery. Evolving and expanding with consumer tastes will only help your restaurant succeed.

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