With Millennials now leaning towards more organic, sustainable, and aesthetically-pleasing foods, restaurants are now changing their approach to menus and ingredients to adhere to this new generation’s requests, and Boston restaurants are no exception.
According to the Boston Globe, “Boston has [the] biggest concentration of Millennials in [the] U.S.” With their large numbers in such a fast-paced city as Boston, Millennials’ influence is being made more and more obvious, specifically in the food industry.
In the last decade, Millennials have become extremely vocal about what they want in their food, both at the local grocery store and at the restaurant right around the corner.
Millennials are keen on healthy and sustainable foods and meals, leaning more towards the organic side of the spectrum.
“I think Millennials in particular care a lot more about the origins of their food and are invested in buying ethically,” stated Andrew Smyth, baking finalist on The Great British Baking Show.
Known for starting up and promoting the Local Foods Movement (also called the Farm-To-Fork Movement), Millennials have become extremely vocal in expressing their want for organic, free range, cruelty-free, locally grown foods.
“The transparency and authenticity that customers were seeking in the food that they are eating fits nicely with the industry seeking to provide healthy and fresh menu offerings,” said Christopher Muller, professor at Boston University’s School of Hospitality Administration.
As a result, more restaurants and locally-owned spots are shifting their menus and aesthetics to please the largest demographic in both Boston and the United States.
“It happens that Millennials spend more per capita on ‘food away from home’ than any other generation in history, so yes they are the driving force for innovation and growth of the restaurant and food industry,” said Muller.
Taking into account that Millennials are keen on new flavors and cuisines, restaurants are now using this adventuresome side of the generation to their benefit by expanding their menus, incorporating the foods and ingredients Millennials are requesting.
“Millennials are also more racially diverse than previous generations so there is a natural desire to broaden food choices, Sushi, Tacos, Pho, Flatbreads, Vegetarian/Vegan are all cuisines that grew because of this group,” said Muller.
Boston restaurants that have grown in popularity as a result of Millennials’ influence include Country Mile, Alcove, Mae Asian Eatery, Kamakura, and Bartaco – all top, trendy spots in the Boston area, according to Eater Boston.
Menu expansion at many restaurants includes all-day breakfast options. This change aligns with the Millennials’ preferences in ingredients and their general shift towards breakfast dishes, as reported by the Globe News Service.
“I’m a huge, huge brunch girl,” said Geneve Lau, Boston University student (COM ’21).
When asked what her top spots are in Boston, Lau listed off several of the “trendiest spots” in the city – “Jaho Caoffee and Wine Roasters by the Pro, or George Howell Coffee in Downton Crossing. For my favorites, I like Dig Inn, Tatte, Citrus & Salt, and Frenchie!”
When it comes to Millennials, social media plays a large role in how this generation interacts and shares their points of view. According to the Pew Research Center, 88% of Millennials are active on social media. As a result, many individuals have taken to their social media platforms to not only voice their requests but also to document their healthy, sustainable food choices.
“I tend to choose very ‘Instagram-worthy’ places,” said Lau. “I follow a ton of foodie accounts, and if I find a place online via Yelp or something, I’ll look up their location on Instagram to see who else has visited and if the place is very ‘aesthetically pleasing.’”
Restaurants now have the pressure of creating and presenting aesthetically-pleasing foods in order to establish their online presence. Consumers and restaurant-goers will photograph and share their “healthy and organic” meals and, if the dish is visually appealing and exciting, means more attention for the restaurant.
“I generally like to look for places that have a good environment. Good décor and also presentation of the food item is super important to me! I love windows and natural lighting,” said Lau.
The food industry landscape is one of constant change and versatility, especially in the Millennial age and in a city such as Boston. In Muller’s words, “the food on the plate has taken on a celebrity status, possibly more than the people posing in the selfies outside…”