Foreign Cuisine Restaurant

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Introduction and Overview - All Members of the Group

The world today is globally connected. Countries in the past who have tried to isolate themselves from the rest of the world like Japan for example, have encountered economic trouble and displeasure from their citizens. The restaurant industry within a nation is a prime example of how important it is to seek outside help. Only the pickiest eaters are satisfied with the same old food all the time. Sometimes the rest of the world views the American diet as consisting of nothing more than fast food (hamburgers and hot dogs) and junkfoods (soda and chocolate). While there is some truth to this, American restaurant consumers are also adventurous, curious, and well-travelled. Whether it be for work or pleasure, people from the U.S. travel constantly to other nations throughout the world. Through these travels tourists have sampled exotic foods from all corners of the globe and return with recommendations for friends and a desire to taste these foods in the U.S. In the United States many people, especially immigrants, have set up foreign cuisine restaurants and have delighted the typical American consumer. Thanks to these foreign entrepreneurs and second and third generation immigrants the typical U.S. restaurant vistor can explore tastes from across the globe from the comfort of their own city.

Background Infomation - All Members of the Group

  • History

The first major event to begin the flow of ethnic food into the United States was the French Revolution. During this time of great fear and violence within France many French chefs and cooks emigrated to the United States. ( During the stages of immigration from other countries to the United States in the 1800's, each ethnicity brought with them their own cultural values which included their foods. Many have found great success because they were offering American consumers something they had never experienced before. These offerings included a strong flavor, many spices and seasonings, as well as a nutritional value. Foreign cuisine and its unique offerings continues to be successful in attracting today's American consumers. (Harper)

  • Demographics

Diners under 40 who live in metropolitan areas tend to drive these cuisines, with two demographic cohorts being predominant. “Internationalists” want the authentic experience of foreign dining, read up on the culture involved, attempt to pronounce the names of the dishes properly, are willing to use different utensils like chop sticks, and in general seek an experience that expands their cultural horizons. “Urban Professionals” want a fun experience of new foods and tastes but with copious explanation and not too much comfort-zone stretching. On the other hand, the cohort designated “Social Diners” are looking for an appropriate atmosphere in which they can entertain and enjoy the company of friends. The restaurant choice is less important; if ethnic, it had better be both comfortable and accessible. “Convenience diners” are looking for economical dining choices, frequently use takeout services, but are not inclined to experiment (Essman).

  • Cultural Distribution

Immigrants from Europe and their descendants have still their influence on American eating. Every major city has French and Italian restaurants, cafés and pastry shops. German food is still popular in cities like St. Louis, Cincinnati, and Milwaukee, Polish food in Chicago and other Midwestern centers, Portuguese food in Boston and southern New England, Scandinavian food in Minnesota, Russian and Greek food in New York and many other areas. You can buy authentic Slovenian products at groceries in locations as diverse as Colorado, Illinois, Vermont, Oregon, Texas and especially in the Slovenian-American heartland of northern Ohio, where in Cleveland you have a number of restaurant choices. No ethnicity is too small or obscure not to support a thriving food culture somewhere in the United States (Essman).

Analysis of Sucessful Enterprises - Kevin

The foreign cuisine sector has become a very profitable venture for restaurant owners. Many owners have taken foods they already know and established them within an area which may not be very familiar with foreign foods. Others setup restaurants that give more traditional options of foods people might already be familiar with the type of cuisine. Several dishes that people in the U.S. have grown accustomed to have come from Chinese, Hispanic, and Italian cuisine. But the food Americans are familiar with do not resemble the traditional food of these cultures. We are actually eating the heavily "Americanized" foods that are not typical in the cuisine's country of origin. Even foods that share the same name such as a taco can be very different depending on where you eat it.

Successful foreign cuisine restaurants succeed across the United States primarily through knowing the environment around the restaurant, developing a pleasing background, and offer nutritional benefits.

The environment cannot be overlooked because location plays a key role in whether a restaurant succeeds or fails. Observing the environment around the restaurant helps observe the people who live and operate within it. The owner cannot expect to create their own place within a major U.S. city and see many American customers. They must sacrifice some tradition in order to take make their customers feel more welcome and comfortable. Also, they must know the demographics of the people in the area. Mexican restaurants have thrived within the American Southwest because of the regions close proximity to Mexico and the high Hispanic population. Also, The Indian restaurant Gokul, is an entirely vegetarian and kosher restaurant within the confines of the city St. Louis, Missouri. St. Louis has a very large Jewish demographic, particulary people of the orthodox faith. Orthodox Jews have very strict restrictions about what foods they can eat and can very rarely go out to restaurants. (Glik) The Gokul however caters to people who are vegan, vegetarian, or who eat kosher, and now has acquired a large base of customers that before had been locked away from most other restaurants in the St. Louis area.

Having a pleasing background is another key factor for a successful foreign cuisine restaurant. Restaurants that are not in the takeout business are always trying make the customers stay. With foreign cuisine restaurants a comforting interior or exterior is especially important because of the need to make a good first impression on the customer. Chances are you won't stay long at small, cramped, dimly lit shack to have some Thai food. The owner's goal is to astoud the eyes with the scenery to prepare the tongue for the meal to come. While it was mentioned earlier that owners typically sacrifice some tradition when setting up they must avoid losing complete touch with their foods roots. The challange is finding a balance between the two. A prime example of this is the Slanted Door restaurant in San Francisco, California. The Slanted Door recognizes that Americans are its key customers, but also does a good job at keeping ties to traditions. By creating an intriguing restaurant background that gives customers a snapshot of what Vietnam is like they are able attract customers and make them sit down and enjoy the scenery. (Nguyen) One of the reasons they have been so successful is by creating their own world within a Vietnamese restaurant in San Francisco. (Nguyen)

There is also a focus on nutrition and health in a foreign cuisine restaurant. The last ten years have taught Americans that as our nation's reputation for healthiness has fallen. Therefore, there has been a growing trend in eating healthy and fitness. This growing trend is almost like a small "I'll show you" to the rest of world who tend to view Americans as sedentary and unhealthy. This trend has helped create a positive interest in foreign cuisine restaurants. One of foreign cuisines' biggest draws is that the meals offer nutritional benefits. Many more authentic Chinese dishes are lighter and less fatty than their American counterparts. Though many foreign foods contain more vegetables and whole grains they do not sacrifice flavor. In fact Spanish and Pan-Asian dishes are well known for their varying and delicious spices and flavorings. Since it is almost expected that healthy food tends to cost a little more foreign cuisine restaurants are able to charge slightly more than American restaurants without the risk of losing clients who put taste and nutrition ahead of price. Many restaurant vistors feel that the price reflects the quality of both the food and the service. (Nguyen) At the end of the day both the customers and the restaurant owner will be satisfied.

Audience Appeal for Business - Christina

Foreign cuisine restaurants have started to become more and more popular throughout the states. There are a lot of different factors that draw customers into the restaurant, or choose to try a new type of cuisine. The trend is moving towards specific foods from regions, rather than the typical Americanized Chinese, Italian, or Mexican food. (Essman, E).

The atmosphere of a foreign cuisine restaurant differs from the typical American style restaurant. Many of these restaurants follow the style of the country and decorate the restaurant according to that style. This allows the guest to feel like they are gaining an experience of a different lifestyle and builds upon the atmosphere. Obviously each foreign cuisine restaurant differs based on the country's traditions, but each one is unique in its own way. Unlike many American restaurants and chains, foreign cuisine restaurants offer a more personalized experience. The owners of the restaurants are typically from that country and want their guests to feel as though they are walking into a different country when stepping through the restaurant doors. The appearance and overall atmosphere goes along with the food, so a dinner out at a foreign cuisine restaurant is more about the experience.

The cuisine and atmosphere of a foreign cuisine restaurant can be enjoyed by people of all ages. As long as you enter the restaurant open to new ideas and open to trying new things, it will be an experience to remember. It appeals to many people because it is different than a typical American restaurant. So, if someone is interested in trying something new and gaining a fun, welcoming experience, then these are the restaurants to try.

Competition - Kristina

Foreign Cuisine's have established themselves in the United States. When entering any market usually companies that are domestic are the main competitors. The main types of restaurants that are competitors to the foreign cuisine restaurant are the fast food and American style fine food restaurants.

Fast food restaurants pose a threat to the foreign cuisine restaurants. There are many competitors the foreign cuisine restaurant has that cater to the American style. Americans are typically people that are concerned about time and are usually on the go. Fast Food Restaurants such as Wendy's, McDonald's and Burger King all offer a typical American style meal such as hamburgers, french fries, chicken and salads for a cheap cost, and made fast. While they may cater to the American style all of the fast food restaurtants have started to alter their menu to offer things that are foreign giving them more of a competitive advantage. For example, Wendy's now offers a sweet and sour chicken, which caters to the Chinese culture.

American style restaurants are also competition to the industry. Restaurants such as Not your Average Joes and the Cheesecake Factory are both American style restaurants that offer items that cater to the typical American meal. Meals are similar to what a fast food restaurant may offer, but for a higher price, better quality and takes a little bit longer. Fine food restaurants have started offering foreign meals as well. Cheesecake Factory now offers many Thai style meals, along with Italian style pastas and pizzas. Food like pastas and pizza has came as such a normal meal to Americans many of us forget that it's originally from Italy and is considered a foreign meal which almost every restaurant seems to offer.

A more adventurous consumer base allows much more latitude in menu design and product offerings. A number of US chains now offer a range of spicier, bolder flavors (Euromonitor International).

  • While 100% authenticity is neither possible or necessary for many chains, an awareness of authentic foreign cuisines is absolutely essential—an urban consumer with ready access to Thai, Mexican, Northern Indian, or Southern Italian cuisine will likely find little appeal in a dish which appropriates the appearance or the terms of a given culture without also offering an accurate take on the tastes involved (Euromonitor International).

Trends - Rafael

A number of recent trends regarding foreign cuisine have emerged over the past decade. Whereas in the past consumers would limit dining out to special occasions, nowadays consumers are dining out as an integral part of their daily lives (Essman). Customers are veering away from "traditional" foreign cuisine such as Mexican, Italian, and Chinese, and looking instead for cuisine specific to particular regions within those communities (i.e. Cantonese, Mandarin). A 2000 “Ethnic Cuisines” survey by the National Restaurant Association indicated that Hunan, Mandarin and Szechwan variations of Chinese cuisines, German, French, Greek, Cajun/Creole, Japanese (including sushi), Indian, Soul Food, Scandinavian, Caribbean and Spanish cuisines have at least been the subject of experimentation by more than 70 percent of the diners (Essman). Additionally, customers are looking for more authentic dishes and experience, particularly in major urban areas when several of these types of restaurants can be found right around the corner.

Because more than half of all foreign-born Americans are from Latin America, Latin American cuisine, such as those from El Salvador, Peru, Argentina, Cuba and Brazil, has thrived in recent years. The common trend is that wherever there are large immigrant communities, restaurants showcasing their cultural cuisines are sure to follow.

For certain cultures, the emergence of more authentic, more sophisticated cuisines aren’t as much the result of immigration, but rather increased travel. For instance, more American college students are studying abroad nowadays, and they bring knowledge of the food of these cultures back with them. A second reason for the increase of foreign cuisine is improved distribution. Essentially, it is much easier to acquire these more exotic foods nowadays than even 5-10 years ago. A good example of this is Whole Foods. Whereas in the past Whole Foods focused mainly on selling organic, local foods, in recent years it has expanded its inventory to include more items from foreign countries. Media has also aided this trend. The internet and "celebrity chefs" who travel to different countries and try the local cuisine there (i.e. No Reservations with Anthony Bourdain) have significantly spread awareness and appeal of these foods.

For restaurants in this industry to be successful they must create a menu with dishes that are both authentic in appearance and taste. With increased consumer awareness nowadays, restaurants that offer "watered-down" or inaccurate versions of these foods are likely to receive harsh criticism from consumers accustomed to the real thing.

Conclusion and Recommendations - All Members of the Group

After thorough research it is evident that opening a foreign cuisine restaurant would be a worthwhile investment. Thanks to the internet and the ease of travelling, getting accurate information on authentic foreign foods and cultures has never been easier. A particularly good opportunity is Portuguese cuisine. New England is famous for its heavy college atmosphere and blends of cultures. It is also heavily populated by Portuguese people, especially in Massachusetts. And while there are several family owned shops and restaurants in the region, few have gained widespread popularity. Thus, there is plenty of room for a restaurant offering fine Portuguese cuisine to enter the market and become very successful. A staple dish of Portuguese cuisine is a dessert called rice pudding (arroz doce). See the link below for a delicous rice pudding recipe:

Works Cited