The restaurant business is one of the most unforgiving businesses out there. Close to 70% of new restaurants do not make it past the first year, a number that increases astonishingly to 95% by year three. This means out of every 20 restaurants that open this year, by 2018, 19 of them will have closed, 14 of those in the first year, all at a substantial financial loss for the owners and investors. Yet in the middle of this business climate, Latin fusion dining continues to be one of the fastest growing segments in the restaurant industry.
There are several factors behind why this is happening. Mexican food specifically - and Latin food in general - has always been a popular dining choice for Americans, even if what most people are familiar with is the original Latin fusion dining, Tex-Mex, and not authentic styles of food preparation. People who are looking for gluten free dining in Appleton, Wisconsin recognize that wheat and wheat flour plays an almost non-existent role in the cooking process, allowing them to have many different menu items to choose from. Latin fusion dining also presents an alternative to the barely different options provided by the national chain restaurants that are ubiquitous throughout the country. But there is one other reason, and it has as much to do with dumb luck and good timing as it does anything else.
Latin fusion dining places a strong emphasis on using fresh ingredients with almost everything being made from scratch. Some restaurants pride themselves on not having a freezer, meaning everything the sell is usually only in the restaurant for a matter of hours and never more than two days. To ensure this freshness, many of the chefs and restaurant owners work with local farmers and purveyors to guarantee they can get what they need when they need it.
This ties in perfectly with the groundswell movement of people looking to eat locally and support sustainable farmers. This locavore movement rewards restaurants by giving them a built in customer base eager to embrace fresh eating and environmentally sound business practices. Certainly there are several styles of restaurants that have opened recently across the country to embrace this farm-to-table ethos, but Latin fusion dining just happened to be there all along.
In fact, the argument can be made that Latin fusion restaurants are the original locavore restaurants. The chefs that are now turning their customers on to the exciting flavors they grew up with learned how to cook by using that which they had on hand. This is why even though some communities in Latin America are only separated by a handful of miles, they developed totally different styles of cooking and utilize different ingredients. This emphasis on fresh, local food is just one secret to the success of Latin fusion dining.
Jack Terry is a freelance writer who has spent the last 20 years covering the food and beverage industry. http://www.osorioslatinfusion.com