Just eight restaurant chains showed market share gains in 2017, and the reason could very well be competition from supermarkets, and maybe a little bit from the proliferating meal kit services. “In the past, you’d kind of see this divide between a grocery store and a restaurant,” says Amanda Topper, associate director of food service research at Mintel. “The grocery store is where you go to buy food when you’re going to prepare a meal at home. The restaurant is where you go to purchase food or eat food away from home.”
That is no longer the reality as supermarkets have introduced so many dining options for consumers, ranging from meal kits for home preparation to prepared foods ready to heat and eat. The newest wave of competition from supermarkets comes in the form of eat-in options.
“Walk into a grocery store today in the U.S. and you may find an oyster bar serving happy hour specials, an on-site coffee bar with baristas serving handcrafted espresso drinks, a full-service bar or even a full-service restaurant,” Mintel notes in a recent report.
Chick-fil-A, founded 52 years ago, has increased its market share by 13 basis points. The company has opened about 100 new stores annually in recent years, putting Chick-fil-A on track to become the country’s third largest restaurant chain behind McDonald’s and Starbucks by 2020, forecasts Technomic.
“We’re constantly keeping our eyes on the horizon, and what major tech shifts might be happening,” says Michael Lage, Chick-fil-A’s senior manager of customer digital experience. “We want to be even faster, more personal, more convenient.”
Darden is the largest full-service restaurant operator in the world, flying such banners as The Capital Grille, Yard House, LongHorn Steakhouse and Olive Garden. Last year the company added Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen to its portfolio, which boosted corporate revenues by about 10 percent.