Feb 13, 2024 - Business

Michelle Bernstein: Diners want "full experience"

Axios' Hope King with chef Michelle Bernstein.

Chef Michelle Bernstein, with Axios' Hope King. Photo: Ledd Villamarzo, EDIN STUDIOS

The post-pandemic desire for more extends to dining out, with an increasing emphasis on a "full experience," says restaurateur Michelle Bernstein.

Why it matters: At Axios' BFD Miami, Bernstein said that her eateries reflect rising consumer expectations for dining out to be more than just food.

Zoom in: Since 2021, consumers have shifted their consumption patterns dramatically toward travel, entertainment, and of course dining out. However, those experiences are getting increasingly costly.

  • Rising prices invariably mean establishments will pass the costs along to consumers.
  • Rising labor costs and a shortage of available workers also hikes costs – issues that Bernstein suggested could be alleviated with more immigration.

Between the lines: The rancor over the U.S. migration crisis is reverberating in the labor market, and service industries are still suffering from a lack of workers.

  • "Labor has become so incredibly difficult and, and I hate to use this word because it's so political, but it really all comes down to immigration," Bernstein said.
  • "So if we don't have the people that are harvesting our vegetables and we don't have the people that are driving the trucks to get our vegetables to where they need to go," she adds.

The bottom line: "Everyone wants to be a little bit known, a little bit special," Bernstein told Axios' Hope King. "They long to be entertained. They don't want just a great meal anymore, they want the full experience."

  • Bernstein said she's leaning into the trend, but said there was a need to do it "organically" instead of forcing it, as some other restaurants do, which comes at the expense of authenticity.

Go deeper: Khosla Ventures' Rabois: OpenAI a zero without Altman

Go deeper