Today’s chart from Nation’s Restaurant News details changes in restaurant meal-period consumption since last year. Meal-period is something we just made up to describe any of breakfast, lunch, dinner or brunch. For example, if a restaurant is open for lunch and dinner, it serves two meal-periods a day. Because if you simply said, it serves two meals a day, that’s ambiguous and misleading. And we don’t think there’s an already-recognized label for this phenomenon, but if we’re missing something obviously, please don’t hesitate to let us know.
Anyway, according to this chart, breakfast and late night meal-periods are surging while lunch is flat and “supper” is waning. Let us examine each meal-period in turn.
• The substantial increase in the morning meal is probably some combination of more people eating breakfast (after all, it is the most important meal of the day, they keep telling us), and more people eating breakfast on the go instead of at home. Given this, we bet that the majority of this uptick is in the fast breakfast subcategory, where food is designed to go instead of being served by waiters. Regardless, it’s still a huge growth spurt for that meal-period.
• The shifts in lunch consumption seem statistically insignificant. Why would lunch change, anyway?
• “Supper,” and for the life of us we can’t figure out why they’ve used such an anachronistic term to describe the dinner meal-period (maybe to free up “dinner” for use in the title of the chart?), took a small hit. Dinner is definitely the most expensive meal-period, and perhaps it reflects the slowing economy. Or maybe people are spending more time with their families? Perish the thought!
• PM snacking…ugh, you just shouldn’t be doing it. You’ll get indigestion! Maybe it’s dessert places, maybe it’s more stupid drunk kids, maybe it’s people working really late in order to keep jobs that are increasingly at risk due to the slowing economy. Idea: try eating only vegetables after 10pm. Could you imagine!
We can see an empire of restaurants open only from midnight to nine in the morning, leasing out unused space in lobbies and such. Meanwhile, how have consumption patterns changed in 24 hour diners? That would be interesting to know.