LUNCH IN THE FAST LANE

I was sitting my cube reading an article titled “Convenient, Family-Friendly Options Rule the Dallas Market” in Nation’s Restaurant News, when–poof!–an e-mail from Stephan Pyles popped up. The press release announces:

STEPHAN PYLES OFFERS LUNCH TWO WAYS: New Millennium Southwestern Menu and Express Lunch in 30 Minutes.

You can take your time with the “regular Stephan Pyles Lunch,” or have it your way– the kitchen also offers a “special Express Lunch menu” that guarantees a complete meal in 30 minutes only at the tapas bar and communal table. Am I the only one who considers the terms “new millennium” and “express” redundant. IJS.

I can’t link to the NRN article cuz you have to pay, so here it is for free:

Consumer Trends

NPD: Convenient, family-friendly options rule in Dallas market
NATION’S RESTAURANT NEWS May 08, 2006 By Erica Duecy

Chain concepts reign in the booming Dallas restaurant market, and consumers there are demanding convenient, kid-friendly options, according to new research from The NPD Group, a Port Washington, N.Y.-based global market research firm.
Dallas has the second-highest chain penetration in the country, behind Atlanta, with 2.71 chain restaurant units for every 1,000 people, according to NPD, which defines the region by electronic-media boundaries – the designated area that NPD calls “local markets.” More than half of all restaurants in the Dallas market – 6,413 of 11,910 units – are chain concepts, according to NPD’s Fall 2005 ReCount database. Parsed another way, the Dallas area’s total count comprises 6,698 quick-service and 5,212 full-service units. In 2006, restaurant sales in Texas are projected to grow 6.7 percent to almost $30 billion, up from $28.1 billion in 2005, according to the National Restaurant Association. That growth rate is higher than the NRA’s national projected average of 5.1 percent and is one of the highest in the country. The Greater Dallas Restaurant Association, whose members are located in Collin, Dallas and Denton counties, estimates its constituents generate more than $5 billion in sales annually. Collin and Denton counties are among the fastest-growing areas in the country, according to population estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau. The population of Collin County grew 34.1 percent to 659,457 during the five-year period ended July 1, 2005. Denton county grew 28.1 percent to 554,642 during that same period. Meanwhile, Dallas county grew 3.6 percent to an estimated 2.3 million residents during the five years ended July 1, 2005. Demographic data from the most recent census in 2000 indicates that the population of Dallas county is 44.3 percent white, 29.9 percent Hispanic or Latino, 20.3 percent African-American, and 4 percent Asian, with other ethnicities comprising the remaining 1.5 percent. The median household income in the county is $43,324, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Consumers in the Dallas local market are also heavy restaurant users. The average person in Dallas visits a restaurant 248 times per year, about 12 percent more often than the average consumer in the Top 39 major U.S. markets, NPD says. Convenience is king Takeout, drive-thru and delivery are strong drivers of restaurant visits in Dallas as compared with other major markets in the country. Most notably, 26 percent of restaurant visits in Dallas take place at drive-thrus, compared with an average of 18 percent in other Top 39 local markets, according to Julie Travis, product manager at NPD. “That has to do with the need for convenience, but it also has to do with the real estate restaurant units are dealing with,” Travis said. “Customers [here] are driving. They’re in their cars, and they need the type of convenient options that fit with their lifestyle.” The data also point to the type of restaurants that rank higher in Dallas than other major markets. QSR and casual Mexican foods rank high in popularity in the border state. In addition, Dallas ranks higher than average for visits to QSR hamburger, QSR chicken and QSR doughnut establishments, based on NPD’s data for the two-year period ended December 2005. Consumers in Dallas also are much more likely than the major market average to order chips and salsa, burritos, refried beans, nachos, fried vegetables, Mexican entrées, nonrefried beans, brownies, mashed potatoes, and iced tea, NPD data indicates. Kids exercise veto power Kid friendliness is a strong driver of restaurant visits, which is not surprising given that Dallas is one of the top kids’ markets in the country. Parties with children account for 38 percent of restaurant visits in Dallas; other major markets average 35 percent, according to NPD. “It’s not only that there are more kids in Dallas, it’s also that they’re driving some of the restaurant decisions,” Travis said, noting that adults in the market are more likely than average to say they chose a restaurant because “kids like it there.” In the areas surrounding Dallas, restaurants catering to on-the-go parents and families are seeing strong growth, according to Tracey Evers, executive director of the Greater Dallas Restaurant Association. “Quick-service and casual is booming,” Evers said. “In certain areas you have so many dual-income families who are driving kids to soccer, and they just need a take-home meal.” Hot fine-dining market Evers says she has seen a recent boom in high-end restaurants in the city of Dallas. “Now we’re getting concepts from other areas, more fine-dining restaurants that have a presence in cities like New York – and customers are paying their prices,” Evers said, citing Craft and Bice, concepts that have units in New York and elsewhere. In April, the Zagat Survey released its first Texas Restaurants guide, covering Austin, Dallas/Fort Worth, Houston and San Antonio. The survey was based on reviews of 1.05 million meals at 1,176 restaurants, most of which were upscale, fine- dining and independent concepts. Fewer than 20 restaurants in the Texas guide had multiple locations, an indicator of the presence of varied nonchain restaurants in the state. “The restaurant business in Texas is booming,” said Tim Zagat, chief executive of Zagat Survey, based on survey results in the guide. “Texans are dining out more frequently than Americans anywhere else, and both customers and restaurateurs seem to be on a winning streak, thanks to improving quality and modest prices.” Zagat Survey results indicated that diners in Dallas/Fort Worth average 4 meals out per week, nearly 25 percent more than the national average of 3.2 meals per week. The average cost of a Texas meal at a Zagat-reviewed restaurant is $28.67, below the national average of $32.06.

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