roger thompson

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"Darden Restaurants, owner of more than 1,100 Olive Garden, Red Lobster, and Bahama Breeze restaurants, has focused intensely on the evolving needs of the baby boomer cohort for more than 20 years. We studied them in 1980 for early clues concerning the casualization of America and what this implied for restaurant atmosphere, style of service, and food (such as appetizers that are shareable and adult finger foods).

"The CEX projections for food expenditures are generally convergent with our research. However, the CEX doesn't disaggregate food expenditures by restaurant tier. Yet when you peel it apart, we are very encouraged because boomers are moving into the life-stage that has traditionally had the highest rate of usage of casual dining restaurants (consumers in their 50s and 60s). The impact will likely be enormous, especially since, at each previous life-stage, boomers follow the historical casual-dining usage trends, but at a consistently higher frequency level than the group they succeed."

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