Earlier this month, Business Insider published an article headlined “Millennials are killing chains like Buffalo Wild Wings and Applebees.” While the article points out that blaming millennials for almost everything has become a cliché, it still partly blames my generation for the death of these beloved chain restaurants, pointing out our need for convenience and speed over a dine-in atmosphere.
While it is true that millennials value their time and often want a quick bite — and also opt to cook at home more often to cut costs — I don’t think the overall sentiment of the article holds true.
In my experience, my friends and I thoroughly enjoy eating out at dine-in restaurants — when we have the funds. We enjoy getting together and socializing over dinner — or lunch on the weekends. And when we have time, are more than willing to spend a few hours at a restaurant having a meal and maybe a few drinks.
The real reason chains like BWW and Applebee’s aren’t seeing as much of our business is that they don’t appeal to millennials the way they do to older generations.
Personally, I would much rather spend my disposable cash on local establishments. I enjoy getting breakfast at Harry’s or Otto’s. Grabbing dinner and drinks with friends at Brickyard Grill or Jim’s Steakhouse. I enjoy the authentic feel of a locally-owned restaurant, and the thought that I’m contributing my disposable income to my hometown.
As a good friend of mine put it: “Millennials aren’t killing Applebee’s, capitalism is.”
There’s not as much demand for chain dine-in restaurants from my generation, and as demand falls, so does supply — killing these chains off if supply falls to low. It’s simple economics.
Under our economic system, it is the responsibility of the restaurants to meet the demand of it’s consumer base, not the responsibility of millennials to change their lifestyle so these chains can survive.
Many of these restaurants are changing in an attempt to appeal more with carryout options and curbside pickup — an effort to draw in the “millennial on the go.” But for me it isn’t about that. It’s about the experience.
I’m not bashing restaurants like BWW and Applebee’s. They are a great place for an affordable meal, or to watch a sporting event with friends. The food is good. I just prefer to pick the local alternative when one is present. I can watch a game at local sports bars or grab a nice dinner at Jim’s or one of the many chicken restaurants in the area.
It’s always been this way. When a new generation has different preferences and different ideals, businesses have to adapt. Millennials aren’t “killing” anything, we’re simply showing what kinds of goods and services we value, and businesses will have to adapt if they want to succeed. Just as they have for every other generation.
— Chance Hoener is a staff writer for the Morning Sun. He can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @ReporterChance.