Home About Contribute Media Kit Contact Sign In


Food Industry News

Why bars, pubs and restaurants are having to adapt to stay to trendy.

Why bars, pubs and restaurants are having to adapt to stay to trendy.

"1,485 adults, over 50 per cent said more tempting food would encourage them to visit pubs and restaurants more often compared to cheaper drinks. "
Morning Adviser

With the coming of age of a new generation in the 21st century, several different industries have been forced to adapt from their traditional styles to suit the changing demands of their customers. Studies show that an increasing amount of people would rather a cosy night in to a night out. In the year 2000 there were a staggering 60,800 pubs across the UK, by 2017 this number had dwindled to 48,350. With super-cheap alcohol available in shops, to millennials preferring to be teetotal, pubs and restaurants are struggling to entice people to leave their homes for a night out. So, what are these businesses doing in order to stay relevant and innovative enough to encourage customers?


For the experience

There are other sectors that have had to adapt as well. For many years, outlets were mourning the decline of the cinema industry — between piracy and prices, cinema attendance had fallen considerably from its post-war heydays. Although there is a huge list of legitimate streaming services that you can use from the comfort of your own home the cinema industry has transformed and played to its strengths. Hitting 177 million UK admissions in 2018, the highest since 1971 , this is testament to how well the cinema industry has reacted when forced to change to stay on trend.

How has this success happened? Put simply, cinemas have adapted and played to their strengths. The quality of film has certainly helped, with the popularity of huge-scale cinematic universes tying multiple movies together like never before. But beyond that, cinemas have something streaming services simply can’t match — a real sense of escapism, which is certainly a treasure in difficult times. Most importantly, cinemas have broadened their product base by not just offering movies now. Instead, they offer screenings of live theatre, opera, and ballet that viewers may not otherwise be able to view. . Vintage films are often given a limited-time re-release, offering retro-loving younger generations a chance to see their favourite old films in a cinema setting they may have otherwise missed out on. In short, cinemas offered an experience. While cinemas can’t always compete with the on-demand range of movies streaming services offer, they can more than compete with the desire for escapism and comfort without distractions

Can this tactic be applied to our bars, pubs, and restaurants in order to appeal once more to the public that going out is still a worthwhile expenditure of their time?


Location, Location, Location


Consumers want their surroundings to be aesthetic and are willing to pay for it. One way for restaurants and bars to adapt is to make their surroundings part of the experience.

It can be challenging to convince someone to leave the comfort of their home sofa for another sofa in a bar, but what about sitting in a post-war bunker?

That’s exactly what Cahoots in London did. This bar embraces British history and quirky vibes with a ‘hidden’ bar underground. Complete with a train guard at the door, the bar is set in an old Tube carriage and filled with stories of its previous life as a shelter. The theme runs through the whole bar too, with menus presented as old newspapers and themed cocktails that stand out from the usual fare.

The key to this is that its just not something that you could experience at home. This bar isn’t pulling crowds just to try the drinks (though that is no doubt one selling point) — it’s offering a full package experience with your friends.


Do Different

Its clear that bars, pubs, and restaurants fundamental offering: food and drink is no longer enough nor are the public very swayed by uninspired steak-night specials. So, how else are companies adapting?


Managing expenses

After experience and location, cost is probably the next factor the young generation consider when deciding upon where to go out. When it comes down to it, no one like to spend more. So, it’s a difficult pitch for bars and restaurants really — travel somewhere else, pay for a meal you could cook at home for less, then travel home. Pros? You get your food cooked for you, you don’t have to do the washing up, and it’s cooked by a professional.

Cons? You have to pay for travel, be it in fuel or taxi fare. You have to pay more for the food than buying the ingredients yourself. You can’t always tell what’s in the food, and for now at least, you can’t really tell how healthy the meal is. In a world that is becoming more conscious of health and wellbeing, that last point can be a real put-off for eating out.

At least restaurants have the pull of professionally-cooked food and new tastes on offer. For bars and pubs, the game is even harder; there aren’t many brands of drink on offer at a pub or bar that you can’t buy more of, cheaper, at a supermarket. Then, you can have them at home, with your friends, away from other people, doing your own thing. Why sit in a pub trying to chat with your friends over the sound of a band you don’t particularly like when you can sit at home, chat to your friends with the same drinks, more money in your pocket, and Spotify on with band you do like?

Therein lies the problem. People have so much technology at their disposal now that pubs and bars can seem a little dated. Without change and renovation, pubs in particular have felt the sharp sting of decline.


Hone in on strengths

The problem is that restaurants and bars are struggling to compete with supermarket pricing when it comes to their beverages. But, they can more than compete with the drinks trends and offerings that simply aren’t as accessible from the supermarket shelf. For example, the growing trend for slushie cocktails through having slushie machines. This caters to experience-seeker and gives a touch of quirkiness, while also being something different from what you can get at home. They can also be mixed to suit mainstream trends, like the love for gin or none-alcoholic options. 

Speaking of gin, this trend has certainly been picked up on by restaurants and bars in recent years. Now, bars and restaurants are benefiting from the wellness and low-and-no trend creeping into 2019. Catering to non-drinkers will certainly appeal to those in a friend group who may otherwise duck out of a night out or make a night in sound easier to cater to all. Adapt by making the bar more flexible in its offerings and it’s an easy display of catering to the customer. Plus, the offering of non-alcoholic spirit-style or wine-style drinks is rather lacking in supermarkets right now — a perfect niche for restaurants and bars to tap into.


Good Food

Even though not every bar can be in a sensational location this doesn’t mean you can’t adapt and offer an experience.

Offering food that looks as good as it tastes is becoming key to success.

According to one study of 1,485 adults, over 50 per cent said more tempting food would encourage them to visit pubs and restaurants more often compared to cheaper drinks. Home-made, locally-sourced food will quickly travel by word of mouth in the area.

People aren’t just out to eat, they’re out to photograph their food too. #FoodPhotography has around 30 million photos under its tag, and #Foodgasm has over 40 million photos. Increasing food offerings from standard fare is vital for bars, pubs, and restaurants to survive and draw in customers. That means improving not only the quality, but the range available too. For example, clean eating, health-conscious, and vegan options are all buzzwords in the modern day. Without offering these, establishments are potentially missing out on huge pools of customers.

According to one study of 1,485 adults, over 50 per cent said more tempting food would encourage them to visit pubs and restaurants more often compared to cheaper drinks. Home-made, locally-sourced food will quickly travel by word of mouth in the area.


It is clear why bars and restaurants that are adapting to suit their customers’ changing demands to ensure that they are keeping afloat in these difficult times. With the right variety, flexibility, and quality, going out can certainly reclaim its crown over staying in!