we value our time-out activities. we increasingly eat out, for work or fun. we have less time but want to spend it more pleasantly.
“eating-out” is becoming more than a fashion; it’s now a solid habit, sometimes a necessity, but will always remain a desire, far beyond the need to eat. “eating out” is not about what’s in your plate, it’s everything around it: the visual, sensory, gustative experience to enjoy and share .it’s the friendliness, conviviality and enriching exchanges around and above your plates.
this business is catering to a fast-growing and very competitive sector, reaching higher, and expanding to more people and occasions, beyond culinary experience. to cater to these needs, various concepts are being thought of and experimented, from the most absurd to the wisest. some prosper and expand, and others are more short-lived, sometimes on purpose; the aim is to seduce the consumer into experiencing new sensations and journeys… and ultimately, to lure him into coming back again and again.
ideas abound, be it around a country’s cuisine, a theme, or a product: japanese cuisine, organic products, cigars bars, cupcake lounges, “haute” bakeries, jazz or comedy joints… even fast- foods are joining the party: falafel bars and luxury bites are the latest thing coming out on the scene, sometimes in the most unexpected places, like desserts stands at hairdresser’s places, and pop-up champagne bars to name a few.
concepts are hybrid
classic categories blurred: bars, coffeehouses, pubs, lounges, beach resorts… labels don’t mean anything anymore. brands are mixing offers to cover a large array of customers and time slots: naming is more part of a visual identity than a true definition.
interior design, from space to cutlery, has become an intrinsic part of the game. designers are on a
project board from concept genesis to maximize space. eating places reflect the diversity in our plates: high stools, low poufs, fluffy armchairs, comfy pillows, explosive colors and surprising materials, there is a no limit rule that has allowed new ways to eat, drink, see and be seen. whether eating under the sea, or hanging in the air, or even in pitch-black darkness, our senses are constantly being challenged.
the “open kitchen” trend is going strong:
either installed in gastronomic restaurants mingling with strangers around big common tables, or cozily gathered around a private chef work top, cuisine is all about demonstrating and sharing direct experience nowadays. this free-flow trend was initiated thanks to molecular gastronomy. but it was originally the trademark of small beach snacks or market bistros, and mostly japanese teppanyaki. television has also played a key role in diffusing the idea thanks to contests like “top chef”. architecture, people and food circulations are a bit tricky to organize in these cases, but the ultimate customer experience makes it worth the logistic and staff gymnastics. a spanish café has even installed tribunes facing its cooking bar to enhance the experience.
adapted geeky technologies is another strong trend :
beyond work meetings held in wifi- equipped cafés, some places are completely organized around robotics and social networking: conveyor belts bring you the healthy food you composed and ordered on a screen, integrated installation and seating disposition allow chatting and flirting with neighboring tables. sci-fi-like settings, banquettes, acid color lounges and fluffy poufs are a trademark, and so are the numerous electrical power sockets, and necessary gears to cater to laptops, tablets, and a coffee-addicted crowd.
as for lebanon
his world-renowned and vital touristic sector is witnessing a “golden age “phase revival: the trend has specifically concerned 50-60’s era, with numerous american diner style and burger joints burgeoning all over town. but it concerns also “oriental” golden age, when the region was prosperous both culturally and economically. typical second-hand type furniture, antique chandeliers, flowery patterns, black-and-white historic characters, mismatched cutlery, all is invented to tell a beautiful story every consumer can relate to. it appeals to our childhood memories, grandma’s kitchen and recipes…
paradoxically, old traditional restaurants, with their trademark straw chairs and plasticized cotton tablecloths are still present, but you have to really look for them really deep inside the streets of trendy beirut and its neighborhood. lebanese new gastronomy has swept across, with its set menus and endless reinvented mezzés: out with the “familial” cuisine, the famous tablecloth is now a hip decor element.
small folkloric “ahwehs” with their busy old men playing backgammons are also becoming a rare sighting. some are vigorously standing the test of time, but most disappear to come back in a more “bankable” form: hip oriental bistros, or anonymous sandwich shops, with their plastic chairs and endless football games on tv. the only symbol of our eating-out heritage that remains untouched are the itinerant cart-sellers of kaak, lemonade and other corn”3arnous” you find on our roads and cornice. they still resist “trendification”… but for how long?
images courtesy of : dezeen.com, guixe.com