This year feels like the calm that’s come after the storm. Finally, as life gets back to normal post-pandemic, we can get out and about with friends again, enjoy brunches with friends, family picnics, and delicious meals in our favorite restaurants.
You may have noticed that this year’s been a significant rise in the number of eateries adopting a traditional, cozy, home-from-home feel, tempting in diners with their warm ambiance, friendly welcome, and comforting fare.
With more establishments than ever embracing the homely vibe, we look at the reasons behind the shift below and whether it’s likely to be long-lived or a passing fad.
The last few years have been tough for everyone. So it’s not surprising that there’s been a surge in the popularity of restaurants that are warm, welcoming, and that feel like home, as opposed to the ultra-contemporary, almost clinical atmosphere of some of the more exclusive establishments that abounded pre-pandemic.
From cozy textures to warm, comfortable restaurant furniture, open hearths, and the soft glow of candle or string lights, this year, the eating-out industry has embraced an ethos of making their diners feel like personal guests rather than paying customers. And it’s one we love.
Even eateries with a thoroughly contemporary vibe are incorporating cozy, traditional elements. This could be through the highlighting of historical features of the building the restaurant is housed in or paying extra attention to the comfort of their guests, such as providing blankets of fluffy throes where outdoor seating is present.
Focus on Seasonal Food
A growing awareness of sustainability and environmental issues around food has led restaurant owners all over the country to put seasonality at the heart of their menus. This, in turn, has led to the return to menus of some much-loved classics; hearty fare like casseroles packed with root veg, sustainably-caught fish pie, and rich wild mushroom risottos that reflect the natural passage of the year.
Seasonal menus have further emphasized a traditional tone in many eateries, helping to better connect diners with the meals they’re eating and promoting greater respect for the food on our plates.
…And On Home Grown Produce
As well as an emphasis on seasonal fare, many restaurants also now focus on homegrown food, or even that foraged by chefs. This all adds to a general ethos in which traditional, age-old food preparation and cooking methods are coming to the fore.
As technical wizardry and our devices increasingly encroach on every area of our lives, a large part of the new popularity of ‘homely’ restaurants lies in diners’ desire to have a warm, human experience when they eat out.
With self-service kiosks popping up in more and more fast-food and casual dining establishments, offering an experience on the opposite end of this spectrum is something that restaurant owners have realized is a huge draw for many people.
Dining as Experience
One of the key restaurant trends that have emerged in 2022 and are expected to continue into 2023 and beyond is the ‘dining as experience’ ethos, which takes eating out beyond the simple consumption of food in a pleasant space.
Hyper-traditional restaurants offer plenty of scope for this; in Wilmington, for example, there’s a restaurant located inside an old blacksmith’s premises: the original forges are incorporated into its interior design, as are elaborate vintage chandeliers.
In Delaware, meanwhile, you can find an eatery reminiscent of a childhood treehouse: tables and chairs are made of halved logs, tree trunks rise from floor to ceiling, and rustic hanging lanterns festoon the space.
All Things Hygge
You may have heard the term ‘hygge’ bandied about a lot recently. It’s a Scandinavian word that relates to a feeling of contentedness and well-being brought about by being in a cozy, convivial environment. Hygge links into ideas regarding bringing calmness and peace into our lifestyles and promoting a mindful approach.
There’s often a strong element of the hygge ethos in the ’traditional’ restaurants that have become so popular this year. A focus on providing a warm, relaxed, happy atmosphere where diners can take the time to savor their meals and enjoy the company they’re in is a common concern in the establishments keen to incorporate hygge into the experience they offer their guests.
Upping the Romance Ante
With internet dating more popular and widely used than ever before, cozy, quaint restaurants make the perfect venues for all those first dates!
In a world of chain establishments and impersonal service, cute little restaurants have thrived, finding an appreciative audience among those who appreciate a little charm and romance.
What Does the Future Hold?
So how do traditional, ‘homely’ style restaurants fit into an increasingly technologically advanced future? Well, there’s every chance they’ll thrive!
Diners will always appreciate the personal touch. There’s something inherently magical about stepping into a dining room that boasts a fire blazing in the hearth, shelves of battered books, interesting artwork, warm-wood furniture, and a menu of comforting traditional food. Happily, for the owners of these establishments, it’s something that no app can replicate.