Zoës Kitchen, a fast-casual Mediterranean restaurant chain with more than 190 locations nationwide, is launching an expanded children’s menu developed for Generation Z’s tastes. Dubbed by the company as the “no nugget generation,” these younger consumers have more sophisticated palates and desire variety and made-from-scratch meals, according to Zoës Kitchen.
The new menu will feature dishes made with whole grains, fresh vegetables, fruits and seafood with a choice of side. Entrees include salmon or shrimp kabobs, ham and cheese piadina made with mozzarella and rosemary ham, orzo pasta bowl, and pizza piadina made with mozzarella, Parmesan and a new Mediterranean tomato sauce. Side options include hummus, Greek salad, roasted vegetables, pesto farro and fresh fruit.
“I’m a father of two daughters born in Generation Z,” says Kevin Miles, chief executive officer and president at Zoës Kitchen. “They love experiencing new flavors, and gladly choose kabobs and hummus over fries. Ultimately, they crave food that makes them feel good. I’m excited to share our new kids menu with families who also value made-from-scratch, nutritious options.”
Representing 23% of the population, Generation Z, those 17 and under, is the most ethnically diverse cohort and is more likely to seek innovative and ethnic cuisines than older generations, according to the Hartman Group, a Bellevue, Wash.-based consumer insights firm.
Additionally, early exposure to digital technology has spurred a demand for ingredient transparency among younger consumers, says Melissa Abbott, vice-president of culinary insights at the Hartman Group.
“Gen Z is the first generation to completely grow up in the digital age, so to them there is no question that can be unanswered,” she says. “This is really affecting the food that they eat because they want to know where it’s from, how’s it grown, who made it. We see this behavior will be integrated into their everyday lives as they continue to grow up.”
In its “What’s Hot” 2016 culinary forecast, the National Restaurant Association identified healthful children’s meals as a top trend. Also rising in popularity, according to chefs participating in the survey, are fruit and vegetables as children’s side items, whole grain items in children’s meals, children’s entrée salads and gourmet and ethnic-inspired children’s dishes.
Zoës Kitchen’s expanded children’s menu will debut on Sept. 27.