Are You Relevant?

Posted by at 15 May, at 07 : 47 AM Print


IF you haven’t noticed, the restaurant industry has been in a constant state of change in the past several years.  As the up and coming generation of food consumers have arrived, they have brought with them the legacy of their upbringing – instant access to information and the frequency with which they are inundated with that information.  Whether or not we’ve become smarter for it is a matter of debate, but no one can deny the influence of the internet and particularly of social media, which puts all kinds of things before our eyes that we would not have otherwise sought out by simply surfing the web.

What that means for all business – but particularly for restaurants – is that our customer base is becoming exposed (or even educated, in some instances) to things about food of which we may not be aware.  Let’s put it another way: our customers (the non-experts) are often aware or knowledgeable about things of which we (the experts) are incognizant.  It’s as if the patient knows more about his heart operation than the cardio-thoracic surgeon that’s about to open him up.

As a proud Greek that’s made lots of money in the restaurant business over a span of decades, the notion that I don’t know more than the average person on the internet seems ludicrous.  But as a smart Greek, I also know that things change, evolve and mutate.  To fathom this point, consider the impact that television had on the generation that knew only radio.  Business empires were built by advertising on the new medium.  The internet, and social media specifically, are a more egalitarian form of media, where anyone with a smart phone, tablet or computer can broadcast (or rebroadcast) content.  And, these days, food and beverages are among the most popular content subjects.

To understand how much you know about food trends (or even food novelties that are attracting interest, which can be the trends of tomorrow), ask yourself how much you know about the following: banh mi, sous vide, black garlic, harissa, cheese tea, kombacha, khachapuri…

In my morning scroll of my Facebook feed, I came across dozens of food entries; some from friends, some from pages I like to follow, some from restaurants that post photos of their finest fare, and some from the Zuckerberg bots that throw things at me based on my interests (Big Brother knows).  Among those entries: homemade ice cream cake with a baked cookie crust and dollops of raw cookie dough; eggplant rollatini with prosciutto, sausage crumbles and fresh mozzarella; a chicken burger infused with large chunks of avocado; Cuban picadillo; timpani (a layered pasta casserole); a tangy pulled chicken sandwich with pickled onions, apple and smoked cheese; shakshuka (poached eggs in tomato-harissa); chicken banh mi sliders and chocolate hazelnut waffles with Frangelico brown butter syrup. The paleo, keto and even the Mediterranean diets spread like wildfire as friends boast the pounds they have lost (or plan/hope to lose) while sharing statistics on the benefits of those diets along with easy recipes.

What’s tragic, is that the old school way of finding out what was trendy and hot was time consuming and costly – you had to actually go to restaurant after restaurant.  While it’s still important to go out on occasion, the new school way of finding where the public curiosity is going vis-à-vis food is immediate and free.

Take my advice: If you’re not on social media, you will fall into a third category of Greeks – that of the stubborn Greek, who watches the world around him grow and devour what’s taken years of hard work and effort for him to build.


Constantine Kolitsas is the president of CNK Consulting, a Restaurant Consultant and Coaching business. He can be reached at 203-947-6234 or at


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