As more casual, sit-down restaurants report declining sales and closed locations, Buffalo Wild Wings CEO Sally Smith places the blame squarely upon one generation’s shoulders: millennials.
Business Insider reports that Smith said millennial customers are more attracted to cooking at home, ordering delivery or eating quickly in fast-casual restaurants.
"When you look at the alternatives out there in the marketplace today and who's creating buzz and creating excitement, it's gone away from chain casual dining," John Antioco, the former CEO of TGI Fridays, told Business Insider.
More grocery chains, like Cincinnati’s Kroger, are competing with restaurants by offering make-at-home meal kits, while subscription services like Hello Fresh and Blue Apron deliver them through the mail.
Two days after Business Insider published Smith’s comments, a Washington Examiner reporter came to the defense of her generation, saying that millennials’ values and preferences should be worked into business models instead of getting blamed.
One example Liz Wolfe gives is how 88 percent of millennials value trying various types of cuisines.
"Although the argument could theoretically be made that Outback Steakhouse caters to those internationally focused values, it's a stretch to claim that the famed Bloomin' Onion is as sought after as dim sum or pho by young people in urban areas,” Wolfe wrote.
She notes that food trucks may have risen in popularity over the past five years since they meet those preferences more than casual dining ever has.