The Toronto Food Scene
By Dwayne Reno
Toronto is very diverse; this diversity has helped to create a vast food scene in Toronto and across the GTA. Every wonder what foods locals across the GTA like to eat when dining out? Well I thought this question would make a great article for this week’s top story. But before we get into the meat and potatoes, let’s talk the numbers.
"With more than 60% of Canadians eating at a restaurant once a week", according to reports by Visa Canada and 40.2% according to The Canadian Restaurant and Food Services Associations (CRFA) reports that "Canadians rank going to a restaurant is their preferred activity to enjoy with friends".
It’s clear that customers are out there looking for places to eat. The challenge these days for restaurant operators seems to be building customer loyalty, increasing cheque averages, frequency of visits, and new trials at their restaurant, café or bar.
This puts independents in a great place if they are actively finding ways to make their restaurant, café or bar stand out from their competitors, by answering the question “why should I spend my money here?”
Also according to The Globe and Mail article, "Too Many Cooks?" published in 2013, stated that "the city’s Municipal Licensing and Standards Division has issued 3,389 new restaurant licenses – for eateries that have opened or have changed hands – since the beginning of 2011".
It is now 2015 and Toronto has 8000 restaurants generating 5.8 billion in yearly sales. This is great for the customer as there are more choices than ever. But what do Torontonians eat when they dine out?
What The GTA Is Eating
The food scene in Toronto has grown tremendously since the days of street meat (hot dogs). On any given day you can find specific foods, such as authentic Chinese found in the cities six Chainatowns. You can also find Greek on the Danforth, Italian cuisine in Little Italy and Indian Food in Little India. But that’s not it… Portuguese, Hungarian, Japanese, Jewish and Caribbean food have been growing in popularity with Torontonians as well; helping to create a strong food scene in the GTA as foodservice operators are competing every day for customer dollars.
Knowing Your Restaurant Neighbourhood, is Crucial
The food in Toronto reflects the multicultural diversity of the GTA. Different neighbourhoods call for some focus on that specific ethnic group’s pallet. I’m not saying you can’t be creative. But it’s not a bad idea having some of your menu items reflect the cultural diversity of the specific neighbourhood you operate in.
Why Is This Important?
Understanding the demographic types of your restaurant neighourhood is important to any foodservice operator, chain or independent. The demographic of your restaurant, café or bars location will help breathe life into your menu items and help your restaurant build its ambiance.
Knowing your restaurant neighbourhood will also help you price your menu items; for example if you are operating in an affluent restaurant neighbourhood you can probably price your high quality menu items higher than an operator who is not, just as long as you can justify the means.
In this highly competitive restaurant industry in the GTA, having the knowledge and insight of your restaurant neighbourhood's demographics can be pivotal to sustainable growth of your business.
Until next time your customer want to know why they should spend money at your restaurant.
So give them the goods! Need inspiration? Checkout some of our services.
Dwayne Reno CEO & Founder
Social Chat Blog
Once a month, Building Block Associates serves up some food for thought with our foodservice Social Chat Blog.