Jul 13, 2019

The grim future of restaurants

A waiter in 2008 in San Francisco, California. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The golden age of restaurants may be over, thanks to the collision of oversaturated markets, rising labor and food costs, changing consumer loyalties, a shrinking middle class, and declines in mall traffic, WashPost's Laura Reiley writes.

Why it matters: The restaurant industry can be a precursor to a bear market or recession.

  • Restaurant growth has already exceeded population growth for years, according to analyst David Henkes of Technomic.
  • And it'll be 5 to 7 years before the huge millennial generation fits neatly in the spending sweet spot.

Between the lines: The Post's thesis comes from “Burn the Ice: The American Culinary Revolution and Its End,” a book out July 9 from James Beard Award-winning food writer Kevin Alexander.

  • Alexander argues that since 2006, U.S. restaurants have enjoyed a transformative period.
  • Among the innovations: "'fine casual dining' .... craft cocktails, farm-to-table dining, the hipification of non-Western food, the audacity of food truck culture, the democratization of criticism via social media."

Now, the shake-up: "There are too many restaurants,” Alexander told The Post. "There hasn’t been a recession since 2008, and a recession gets the people who aren’t serious out of the way. Austerity breeds creativity."

Go deeper: We’ve just lived through the greatest period of restaurant growth in U.S. history. Here’s why it’s ending.

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Investments in agrifood tech are taking off

Reproduced from an AgFunder report; Chart: Axios Visuals

An example of a growing new food industry seeing burgeoning growth is agrifood tech — companies aiming to improve or disrupt the global food and agriculture industry. Companies in the space are already a mature market for venture capitalists and deals have consistently gotten bigger in recent years, data shows.

Details: In 2017 and 2018, the largest venture deals across the food and agriculture supply chain were in the food delivery segment.

Go deeperArrowJul 22, 2019

Fast food's digital revolution is bringing all-time high stock prices

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Investors are scrambling to get their hands on next-generation meatless and agrifood technology companies, but the past couple of years have proven very lucrative for old-fashioned fast-food chains.

Why it matters: While legacy brands like Kraft Heinz and Campbell's are losing market share as consumers' tastes and shopping habits change, fast-food legacy names like McDonald's and KFC/Taco Bell owner YUM! Brands are seeing all-time high stock prices.

Go deeperArrowJul 30, 2019

GrubHub CEO talks competition and controversy after Q2 earnings

Photo: GrubHub

After his company posted mixed quarterly earnings results Tuesday, GrubHub CEO Matt Maloney didn't shy away from accusing competitors of tricking customers with hidden delivery fees in an interview with Axios.

Why it matters: A recent controversy over the driver pay policies of some companies like DoorDash highlighted the exact challenge food delivery companies face: building a sustainable business despite high delivery costs.

Go deeperArrowJul 31, 2019