Nancy Kruse
Nancy Kruse, president of The Kruse Co., gave a  presentation at the National Restauarnt Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show.

CHICAGO — Challenged by changing consumer expectations and competition, the restaurant industry may no longer rely on the “old rules” of the business, said Nancy Kruse, president of The Kruse Co., Atlanta.

“This is not your father’s or your grandfather’s restaurant industry anymore,” Kruse said during a presentation at the National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show, held May 20-23 in Chicago. “All of food retailing is facing challenges as the old rules are being replaced by new realities that are driven by changes in the consumers and in the competition.”

Falling food costs at grocery stores and rising prices on menus are discouraging would-be restaurant patrons, particularly as supermarkets improve the quality of prepared food offerings. In addition, a host of emerging players in food service, from food trucks to meal kits to grocery delivery, has upended the competitive landscape.

“The old rule was you pretty much knew who the competition was; now it’s a little bit here and a little bit there,” Kruse said. “It’s everywhere.”

The restaurant industry today faces challenges “that none of us would have anticipated five years ago,” she said.

The solution, she added, is creating a memorable menu that feeds into consumer needs for creativity, comfort and perceived healthfulness.

“From my point of view, when the going gets tough, the tough really amp up their menu R&D,” Kruse said.

During her presentation, she highlighted what’s new and what’s next in menu trends.