Research suggests that families no longer eat dinner together, and those that do so tend to do it in front of the television. The reason behind this? Dinner trends are evolving — and this applies to both eating in and out. Overall, there has been a shift away from formal dining to a more casual dining experience, paving the way for the rise of a street food lifestyle. To investigate, we’ve teamed up with Oldrids and Downtown:

The shift from formal dining to casual dining

Once, dining in a restaurant was a special event and saved for more formal occasions. The term ‘restaurant’ has almost always referred to an establishment where you would go to ‘sit down’ and enjoy a meal cooked for you with table service, typically by a waiter.

However, it was found that 70% of adults were frustrated when waiting for their food to arrive in a restaurant. When they asked 18-34 year olds what their biggest frustrations were, waiting for your food to arrive (42%) and waiting for a table (30%) were listed in the top three, according to a recent survey.  

People are now looking for a casual dining experience when they go to a restaurant. Following the rise of fast-food and take-away restaurants, a formal or fine dining experience has become a second-thought to most people choosing to eat out. Restaurants that offer buffet-style food, street food and outdoor eating spaces have become a popular choice for a lot of people, especially families.

The big question everyone wonders is: is it cheaper to eat out than dine at home? Put those dinner sets away because according to Trajectory, eating out is a big part of family life. Chain restaurants such as Wetherspoons, Nando’s and The Harvester offer casual, comfortable dining experiences that are moderately priced and tend to have a more relaxed atmosphere. Nando’s, in particular, has been voted our favourite restaurant chain in the UK on, proving that the casual dining experience has been a hit across the UK.

Pop-up restaurants are the new alternative

With more restaurants popping up, people are more interested in dining out and trying different types of food than they ever have before. According to a survey by Eventbrite, involving 2,000 respondents that had attended pop-up dining experiences, 75% believed a unique dining experience was worth paying extra money for. Not only that, but after analysing over 40,000 of these pop-up dining events, Eventbrite also found that the pop-up dining experience was the fastest growing trend — recording 82% growth. With 66% of all UK adults describing themselves as passionate about food and drink, the UK is becoming a foodie nation.  

Also, it was found that 74% of people who went to pop-up dining spots wanted to see the food being cooked in front of them and valued interactions with the chef. With figures like this, could traditional formal dining now be a thing of the past?

Growing in popularity

When you think of street food, you probably instantly think of those greasy white burger vans — but there’s been a shift and there is now a demand in gourmet street food. It’s been around for years in countries such as Thailand, but is relatively new to the UK. However, despite being a latecomer, that hasn’t affected its success. Taking the UK by storm, search volumes for street food have grown by more than 80% between 2014 and 2016 — and the Food and Agriculture Organisation suggests that over 2.5 billion people are now eating street food on a daily basis.

People can taste food from all over the world due to the rise in gourmet street food, including Chinese, Thai and more which will be sure to get those taste buds going. But it’s not like any other dining experience — there’s no dinner table, no fancy cutlery, and everything is very casual. Your food is usually served from a van in a public space, such as a market or music festival.

As adults said that they were frustrated with the thought of waiting for food in a restaurant, street food seems to be a popular alternative. And it looks like the trend is firmly here to stay, with 47% of consumers planning to eat more street food in the next twelve months.



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