I grew up in southern New Jersey, a land of highways, strip malls, and chain restaurants as far as the eye could see. Before my friends and I could drive ourselves or imbibe alcohol in public spaces, we were relegated to walking the mall from end to end and getting late night apps at Applebee’s. Nothing would bring us more joy than telling a waitress that it was Johnny’s birthday when he was in the bathroom and having the entire restaurant sing to him when we all knew (and so did they) that it wasn’t his birthday. Those were simpler times.
Flash-forward 10 years. A friend of mine shared with me that my beloved Applebee’s (and Buffalo Wild Wings) was succumbing to an implacable force that no one could reckon with: millennials. These incredibly complex beings are the harbinger of doom for chain restaurants (along with J.C. Penny and diamonds).
Why? Well for one, millennials don’t eat at chain restaurants or any establishment that doesn’t sell avocado smashed on toast for $15. Their preference for this expensive delight, along with locally sourced craft beer served with organic pita chips sprinkled with pink Himalayan sea salt is single-handedly changing entire industries.
They are destroying the way that the world eats, drinks, and shops.
Now, pardon my sarcasm, but this is a pretty serious issue. I, as a millennial, cannot tell you the last time I walked into an Applebee’s or a J.C. Penny. I LOVE eating avocado smashed on toast and walking into a neighborhood café for a locally sourced, homegrown something or other. Why? Because I know better. I know that the preprocessed goodness that Applebee’s pulls out of a microwave is not something I should put into my body (although I want to at times). I know that something that is made with high quality things will last longer, taste better, and be better for society in the long run. I know that I can spend a little money and get something satisfactory or spend a little more money and get something amazing, something that will have a lasting impact on me (and on my Instagram followers).
Why is that?
Blame whatever generation our parents are.
They taught us to use our brains and educate ourselves and do better than they did. That means pushing the envelope, expecting greater, and saying no to Applebee’s.
Now, there is a solution to this issue. Applebee’s and other restaurants and retailers that have been treating consumers to the status quo because we “demanded” it, need to step it up. I will not even try to put on my consultant hat and solve all of these issues is this article. I will say that I don’t want see businesses shut down, people lose their jobs, and towns lose places where people gather and make memories. I want to see these industries elevate themselves, improve their products, and offer experiences that warrant my very curated palate and eye.
So, along with being lazy, entitled, and never going to own a home due to our obsession with avocado toast, we don’t simply accept things the way that they are because that is how the world has been. The world is changing and businesses, however hard it may be, need to change to. A millennial just raised about $3 million for victims of a terrorist attack (great work Ariana), so don’t let anyone tell you that you don’t have a strong voice and no late night apps, however, delicious, will stand in your way.