Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Are Trends Designed for Survival?

At a minimum, each year brings out new trends within the restaurant industry. Trends will come and go; some may stick around longer than others; and some may come back years down the road.  But for the most part, they are just that........trends!

I remember stopping in L.A. with my wife, along one of our stops while on our honeymoon, almost 8 years ago to the day. We took a stroll through Beverly Hills on that trip and I vividly remember my wife being super excited about a store that went by the name of "Sprinkles!" I remember thinking, "What the heck is this store, and what is so great about this place?" It was, and still is a cupcake store. But at that time, I thought to myself, "How in the world is any place going to survive simply by selling cupcakes?" In the spirit of the day and my wife's excitement, I ordered a cupcake for myself. I thought I would be in for some out-of-this-world cupcake experience, something I've never tasted the likes of before. However, to me, it was just another cupcake. My mother could have made it for all I would have known.

After that trip was over, it wasn't long before cupcake shops started popping up all over the country. Cupcakes became the "it" menu item. You weren't a hot, new, trendy restaurant unless you had some type of cupcake option on your dessert menu. They were a craze, and they were everywhere. New shops opened up left and right. The cupcake trend was surviving and thriving, much to my surprise. 

Despite the popularity of cupcakes... and usually most other restaurant fads, our restaurant tends to steer away from trends. We may experiment with something on the new hot top 10 list, but we won't get too excited about new things until we experiment with it ourselves and discover that there may be some substance or a personal use for the new trend. We certainly won't change our menu or morph menu items all in the name of trend.

So there is no surprise from our point of view that just this week, one of the trendy cupcake stores "Crumbs" announced it is closing all of its stores' doors. Making a cupcake is something that most people can do. The question in my mind has always been, how many cupcakes can one person eat before they become sick of cupcakes? How many showers or weddings can people attend before they are sick of them?

There are so many things, in my opinion, that those types of bakeries are up against. I'm not sure how one could survive off cupcake sales alone, gourmet or not. There needs to be some diversity in the menu so when inevitably the craze ends, a business still has something to fall back on for sales. It took a while, but I think the writing is on the wall for all but a few specialty cupcake stores. Like most trends, even the cupcake may be coming to an end.

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