For me, my girl Madonna is the ultimate example of renewal. Every album (or CD depending on your age) has a new sound, a new persona, a new image. From the black lace material girl to the torpedo bra to angelic mystic with long flowing robe, she has spearheaded new trends over and over again few years. In this case, evolution is very much about renewal.
However, restaurants can’t handle changes like this and here’s why, it would be too confusing if they redecorated and changed their concept every other year. Guests wouldn’t know what to believe in and would lose faith in the quality of reliability of the experience. But restaurants can, and should, take advantage of opportunities to renew and refresh regularly – updated and clean décor, seasonal menu items that reflect the seasons and good looking and appropriate service staff that match their concepts. Regular renewals and refreshes make for great marketing opportunities to bring back repeat guests and bring new ones in!
New makes news – so as long as restaurants keep to their concepts this works. For instance if Scala’s Bistro in Union Square, SF decided to add a mushroom menu for the season –it would work if the dishes were Italian inspired. Guests like to be adventurous but at Scala’s they want their mushrooms in a great pasta. As trends change it becomes necessary to change with them. Apple martinis, once all the rage, are now dated old things that people make fun of (I hope I am not offending anyone here). Burgers once banished to bar menus and fast food joints have crossed the threshold onto the best fine dining menus. I love the burger at Grand Café in SF. As the popularity of small shareable plates and casual places have grown, savvy restaurateurs have introduced cost-conscious flexible menus that appeal to new diners with different budget parameters.
For restaurants, it is important to stay abreast of these trends and analyze how they could work for their guests. Just because sushi is the rage, guests don’t want it when they go out to their favorite French spot. Renew within reason –and the rewards can be great.