Where do they eat?

After the festive season restaurant owners will be doing their best to attract people back into their restaurants. But what are people really looking for from a night out?

With a flailing restaurant scene, some have decided to budget their culinary outings, while others resort to eating at home
With a flailing restaurant scene, some have decided to budget their culinary outings, while others resort to eating at home

Figures for diners eating out in Malta and Gozo for 2011 remained at par with last year’s figures, however average spend took a bit a of a beating, reducing profitability of restaurants as diners cut back on the expensive stuff, in an effort to fight against their decreasing disposable income.

With over 1,800 Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association registered establishments, Matthew Pace, Chairman of the Action Group Restaurant Section of the MHRA, said that for restaurants to be successful, not only do they have to provide a good quality meal with good service but they also need to pay attention to the finer details of management and marketing. They need to be able to establish what their target market really requires and then use the correct marketing strategies to keep bums on seats.

A 59-year-old family man with two grown children said he eats out between three and four times week. His choice of restaurant his highly dependant on easy parking facilities and the availability of open-air dining. With a preference for Italian or French cuisine the average bill amounts to between €35 and €50 a head with wine always part of the meal. In 2012, he said he intends to keep his dining out habits more or less the same. He would like to see more places taking parking problems into consideration, more wifi facilities and an introduction of BYO (bringyour-own) wine.

For a 22-year-old from Lija who is living with his parents, eating out is a major part of his life. He eats out once a week and orders take out at least twice a week. As a rule he spends €40 a head when eating out and €20 a head on take out. His preference for restaurants include Asian and Italian food and will choose a restaurant according to the cuisine and ambiance. In 2012 he intends to cut down on eating out to get back into a fitness routine and get into shape before the summer.

A 41 year-old from Mellieha with a wife and two young teenage children said that he never eats out at a restaurant because he just doesn’t see the point. However upon consideration he did admit to spending some of his weekly income on fast food. He would rather not spend any money at restaurants as there are more important things that take up his disposable income, mainly the children and household maintenance.

A 40-year-old from Ta’ Xbiex sees food simply as fuel. However, he does admit to eating out at least three or four times a week. As he lives on his own and has little interest in cooking, he doesn’t have much choice to go out to eat, and so doesn’t necessarily see eating out as a social occasion. In 2012 he intends to cut down on eating out and get into cooking some more.

A 31 year old from Naxxar said that he rarely eats out anymore since he moved in with his girlfriend and they do a lot of cooking together. They go out approximately twice a month but only for meals that they don’t usually cook at home, like ethnic meals. With an average spend of €30 a head, they intend to keep the same habits over the next year. 

A 29-year-old single man from Msida said he eats out at least once a week with family and friends as a good excuse to socialise. His first preference of restaurant would be one that specialises in Lebanese cuisine but also goes out for fish at Marsaxlokk or Birzebbuga restaurants. With an average spend of €40 to €60 a head the wine is aresponsible for a large part of the meal. In 2012 he expects his eating habits to remain more or less the same.

A 48-year-old man from Naxxar with two young children goes out once a week with his wife and one more time to eat with the children. When he goes out with his wife their choice is usually Italian with a particular fondness for fish and the average spend is around €40 each. When they dine out with the children they go for a more child friendly environment at pizzerias. In 2012 he expects to spend more evenings at wine bars and less on dining out in an effort to save some more money.