Gone are the days where it is tradition for families to sit around the table together to eat dinner every evening. Research suggests that families no longer eat dinner together, and those that do so tend to do it in front of the television. The reason behind this? Dinner trends are evolving – and this applies to both eating in and out. Overall, there has been a shift away from formal dining to a more casual dining experience, parting the way for the rise of a street food lifestyle. Oldrids and Downtown, providers of dinner sets, investigates further.

Formal dining vs casual dining

Traditionally, restaurant dining has been fairly formal. The term restaurant has almost always referred to an establishment where you would go to ‘sit down’ and enjoy a meal cooked for you with table service, typically by a waiter.

In a recent survey, it revealed that 70% of adults are frustrated with the aspect of waiting in a restaurant. When they asked 18-34 year olds what their biggest frustrations were, waiting for your food to arrive (42%) and waiting for a table (30%) were listed in the top three.

In recent years there has been a shift away from formal dining, and towards a casual dining experience. Following the rise of fast-food and take-away restaurants, a formal or fine dining experience has become a second-thought to most people choosing to eat out. Restaurants that offer buffet style food, street food and outdoor eating spaces have become a popular choice for a lot of people, especially families.

According to a report by Trajectory, the affordability of eating out is a big factor for families – is it cheaper to eat out rather than at home? Chain restaurants such as Wetherspoons, Nandos and The Harvester offer casual, comfortable dining experiences that are moderately priced and tend to have a more relaxed atmosphere. Nandos, in particular, has been voted our favourite restaurant chain in the UK on Ranker.com, proving the casual dining experience has been a hit across the UK.

The rise of the pop-up restaurant

People are more inclined to try a new dining experience than ever before. According to a survey by Eventbrite, involving 2,000 respondents that had attended pop-up dining experiences, 75% believed a unique dining experience was worth paying extra money for. Not only that, but after analysing over 40,000 of these pop-up dining events, Eventbrite also found that the pop-up dining experience was the fastest growing trend — recording 82% growth. With 66% of all UK adults describing themselves as passionate about food and drink, the UK is becoming a foodie nation.

In addition, 74% of people attending pop-up dining experiences are interested in seeing their food being cooked in front of them with chef interaction, for a one-of-a-kind experience. With figures like this, could traditional formal dining now be a thing of the past?

The rise of street food

There’s no surprise that the popularity of street food has grown so much – and by street food, we aren’t referring to the greasy white burger vans – think gourmet street food. It’s been around for years in countries such as Thailand, but is relatively new to the UK. However, despite being a late comer to the UK, that hasn’t affected its success. Taking the UK by storm, search volumes for street food have grown by more than 80% between 2014 and 2016 – and the Food and Agriculture Organisation suggests that over 2.5 billion people are now eating street food on a daily basis.

Street food seems to cater for everyone, with almost every cuisine available as street food – from Indian, Thai and Chinese, to burgers and pulled pork baps. But it’s not like any other dining experience – there’s no dinner table, no fancy cutlery, it is very casual. Your food is usually served from a van in a public space such as a market or music festival.

With adults admitting that time is precious, expressing their frustration of waiting in restaurants, it’s no wonder street food has become such a popular choice. And it looks like the trend is firmly here to stay, with 47% of consumers planning to eat more street food in the next twelve months.

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