If you’ve noticed the proliferation of Mediterranean menu concepts lately, you’re not alone.
The “Mediterranean Diet” first came into the American public consciousness in the 1990s, but it’s a lifestyle that’s been practiced around the Med Rim—in Greece, Spain, Southern France and Italy, the Middle East and North Africa—since the beginning of recorded time.
Fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats like olive oil, and a lot of fish and poultry rather than red meat characterize Mediterranean cuisine. Sound familiar? It’s a “diet” that’s both healthy and satisfying (especially when you throw in red wine for good measure), and it’s also easy to follow.
Several Mediterranean specialties have achieved breakout status in recent years, including hummus, pesto, tabbouleh, flatbreads, falafel, marinated olives, kebabs and other simply grilled meat and chicken items, and Greek and Niçoise salads. And of course there’s the runaway popularity of Greek yogurt.
Mediterranean food appeals to the increasingly influential Millennial and Generation Z demographic cohort, including those who follow plant-based, vegetarian and vegan diets
Not surprisingly, a number of fast casual chains have moved into the arena, codifying and popularizing the Mediterranean magic. These include Zoe’s Kitchen, Pipieri, Verts Mediterranean Grill (formerly Verts Kebap), Garbanzo Mediterranean Grill and I Dream of Falafel. There are even concepts that specialize in hummus variations.
Why the sudden interest? A number of major food and menu trends intersect where Mediterranean lives, including:
- Menu customization and “made-for-me” food
- Meatless menu options
- Convenience and portability
- Fresh, healthy ingredients and menu items
- New global food concepts and flavors… that are still approachable
- Better food quality and overall experience than traditional QSR (and guests’ willingness to pay a little more for it)
- Distinctive breads as a menu platform
- The evolution of a new “upscale QSR” space between fast food and fast casual
For operators, the space not only appeals to Millennial entrepreneurs, but it also offers relatively low food costs; operational flexibility (note how a limited number of fillings/toppings and platforms can create a salad, wrap or flatbread, or plated menu item); and adaptability to multiple locations, including not only traditional streetside and pad locations but also colleges, airports and retail food courts.
At Synergy, we have been involved in the development of several Mediterranean menu projects and have been tracking the trend’s rise. Reach out to us if you’d like more information.