Authentic & Honest Food, Service, Entertainment & Community

Authentic and Honest Food, Service, Entertainment and Community – these are the cornerstones for future retail centres and mixed use developments of all sizes.

Today’s requirements for living, shopping and eating have changed. The broad construct of lifestyle has been integrated into retail and this needs to be reflected in the food, hospitality and entertainment. I think by now we have all moved on from the brick versus clicks dilemma and realised that retail centres are alive and well and have a bright future provided they can change and evolve with their customers. 

Regardless of size, shopping malls, retail centres, airports and neighbourhood strip-centres are all about people. We’re planning food and entertainment for people in what could be, and often has been, impersonal spaces so as to deliver positive experiences whereby people want to dwell longer, spend more and return more often.

In a country which is dining-out obsessed, service is a hot topic. Jeremy Courmadias, general manager of the Fink Group, said recently, “Part of the charm of dining out will always be engaging with your waiter or sommelier”. This is as true today as it was 100 years ago.  Staff training needs to include this key element of hospitality - it is a fundamental part of any F&B outlet and crucial to maximising sales and customer satisfaction.

Specialised and detailed service at  Milk the Cow

Specialised and detailed service at Milk the Cow

In a fast-changing world of digital connectivity, virtual reality, augmented reality, robots and a work environment that can follow you no matter where you go, more and more people of all generations are looking for a hospitality value-proposition that won’t disappoint – no matter whether they are visiting a modern food court, café, speciality restaurant, pizzeria, roof-top lounge, gastro pub, food hall or tapas bar.

The experience must be one that is built on honesty and integrity when it comes to both the food and the service. This is not a new concept but, as we are all aware, it is still not always the case. The standard for success has not changed: The customer should leave the venue feeling positive and eager to recommend to friends, family and colleagues.

Stunning design, authentic food and great service at  Rovi  in London

Stunning design, authentic food and great service at Rovi in London

Humans are social animals and food and hospitality is the social-glue that bring us together. Food deliveries is one form of “dining”, but it is more about the convenience of having calories brought to your door.  Nothing will ever replace the social benefits and excitement of engaging with people in a design driven space where you are being treated to delicious food that is freshly prepared and plated, good wine and great company. Food is one of life’s pleasures and it’s meant to be shared in a busy, buzzing and energised restaurant or bar. 

Any good café or restaurant makes it customers feel special. Melbourne’s best neighbourhood French Bistro, Bistro Thierry, is not everyone’s first choice. Its phenomenal business success for over twenty years is accredited to making its customers of all ages feel welcome and special and offers consistency of food quality and service. In Sydney, Fred’s by the Merivale Group offers an excellent food and service proposition with consistent home-cooked style food and excellent service,

Bistro Thierry offering food quality and service
(Image credit: Bistro Thierry)

Diners of today are hyper-informed, have many great food options and are looking beyond a transaction when they enter a burger bar, café or restaurant. The experiential nature of millennials and new millennials presents a growing opportunity for food establishments to provide a unique eating experience and satisfy their craving for a sense of excitement about new-dish-discovery.  

F&B operators should be careful not to innovate simply for the sake of innovation. The desire for an experience is still based on the unbending standards of quality and service.  Bistro Thierry and Fred’s both offer authentic experiences that millennials and new millennials might not have experienced before. A new-dish-discovery could therefore be something as radical as escargot, served by informed wait staff, matched with wine from an understanding sommelier and cooked to perfection by a kitchen team that sources the best produce. 

A home-cooked style food and excellent service at Fred’s
(Image credit: Fred’s)

Cover Image: Service staff at Campos Barangaroo
(Credit: Streets of Barangaroo)