The combined challenges of the pandemic, inflation, supply chain problems and labor shortages have made it clear: To survive and thrive in the years ahead, restaurants will need new ways of operating. The good news, according to the National Restaurant Association’s 2022 State of the Restaurant Industry report, is that two key customer demographics are particularly welcoming of the changes. Specifically, adults born between 1980 and 2003 (Millennials and the older edge of Gen Z), as well as a fair share of Boomers, are embracing the efficiencies that technology is bringing to the ordering, purchasing and collection process, while also demonstrating an open-mindedness about the role restaurants can fulfill in their lives. For example, these consumers see restaurants as meal partners. Even if they’re planning to eat at home, they may still look to restaurants to provide a part of that meal or a kit that makes it easier to prepare their full meal. These customers place high value on takeout – and 94 percent of millennials said they would order a wider array of to-go foods if they were packaged to preserve them better (70 percent are even willing to pay more for upgraded packaging). Millennials and Gen Z, in particular, like alcohol with their order too, giving operators some room for creativity with promotions for higher-margin drinks that customers don’t want to prepare at home. They’re open to buying subscriptions for restaurant meals or opening house accounts that offer a discount for prepayment. Importantly, they also like the efficiency of tech-enabled ordering and payment – and that extends to ordering through virtual assistants. All told, the definition of a “great” restaurant experience is changing – and those changes bring greater efficiencies and possibilities for restaurants, amid the challenges.