A lot of the millennial stereotypes aren’t true. But some are. It’s not a fallacy that millennials like to feel in the know, that they know secrets regular humans aren't privileged to have. Or that they are slightly impatient, especially when it comes to waiting for food. So here’s a look at three ideas that just might help boost your millennial business.
1. Quietly display not-so-secret menus
Millennials love to feel like they are insiders who can experience something special from a restaurant—something not everyone knows about. Enter: secret menus. There are entire websites dedicated to uncovering secret menu items from chain restaurants. In-N-Out Burger has its Animal-style fries. Chipotle has a burritodilla—or a burrito wrapped in a quesadilla. And Torchy’s Tacos in Texas has a whole list of unmenued tacos that anyone familiar with the chain knows to Google before going in. Instead of relying solely on word of mouth or the Internet, though, diners in Houston can find the list of secret tacos in the store, if they look carefully. The restaurant has its menu of “secret” tacos on a placard right by the register. While they might not be listed on the big menu board or on the printed menus by the door, in-the-know guests can make sure they see all the options before placing their order.
2. Mocktails on the menu
Mocktails aren’t new. But Travelle in Chicago caters to an older millennial crowd, many of whom are in the first-baby stage right now, by listing its mocktails right along with its full-alcohol drinks. Instead of putting mocktails on a menu with juices and soft drinks—or not listing them at all, as so many do—the contemporary-casual restaurant in The Langham hotel puts its fancy mocktails on its cocktail menu. “It’s a good way to get an extra $6 out of me, when I’d normally order water,” says one staffer at Winsight (RB’s parent company), who happens to be pregnant with her first child. Because, after all, many millennials’ social lives—pregnant or not—revolve around dining out. So if there’s an obvious way for the non-imbibers to fit in with a cocktail-drinking group, many will take advantage.
3. Priority access list
Some chains have instituted call-ahead lists when they don’t take reservations, but it’s started to trickle down to a popular independent in Chicago. The wait at Pequods Pizza, a local favorite for deep-dish pizza, easily stretches beyond an hour on weekends. What only the regulars seem to know is that it has a “priority access list.” Those in the know can call and confirm, similar to a reservation. Once they arrive, their name is bumped to the top of the wait list. Granted, that still might mean waiting half an hour to sit; but when the Saturday night wait is two hours, 30 minutes sounds perfect.
Some of the more senior members of the team smile at the junior staff who are excited to uncover an interesting trend in “eatertainment” or the latest single-ingredient concept. We try not to be condescending when we suggest they do some research by looking at past issues of Restaurant Business or old Technomic top chain reports before calling it the next big thing.