Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.

I'm always moved to hear of suffering.

It brings the glossier view of life into a more realistic perspective.

I'm not sure in which direction I'm moved, however, when I hear that salubrious establishments such as Applebee's, TGI Fridays, Chili's and Buffalo Wild Wings are enduring some pain.

These are all grouped under the category of casual dining. I live in California, where all dining is casual. The only difference between restaurants is how much you're prepared to casually throw down for a meal.

Still, Business Insider tells me that this cheaper end of casual dining is struggling because of one of society's great nebulous nemeses: millennials.

These pesky beings are apparently more interested in antiquated concepts such as ordering in from restaurants, going to casual restaurants of the speedy sort or even, gasp, cooking at home.

See what you have wrought, Top Chef? Goodness, Iron Chef, you're destroying bricks-and-mortar dining.

It's very easy to conclude that stressed millennials, umbilically attached to their phones, reach for the speediest options, as well as the ones that make them look a lot better on Instagram.

Hey, guys. Here's a quinoa lasagne I just whipped up!

There's surely no doubt, too, that the likes of Panera have begun to squeeze the more traditional casual dining places from below.

They've thought about healthy aspects -- if only for a moment -- and they've worked out how to deliver them.

There's one factor, though, that doesn't seem to get mentioned so much. Could it be that millennials have become a little tired of eating bad food?

Could it be that their worship of Anthony Bourdain and their obsessive chewing over Food and Wine magazine has led them to realize that some relatively inexpensive places do offer, well, relatively good and even healthy food?

While others feed you relatively nasty stuff that they hope you wash down with high mark-up alcohol.

I'm not naive enough to believe that America is suddenly going to become far healthier and more tasteful overnight.

Equally, I wonder if, as millennials spend more money on experiences and less on things, they've begun to think more qualitatively about food.

Why, even McDonald's has begun to offer -- please prepare for the shock -- fresh beef.

When you're a chain restaurant, it's easy to convince yourself that all you need to do is be consistent and serve the same sort of thing over and over again.

It's also worth understanding how quickly the future can come upon you.

Look how far Domino's got ahead by anticipating mobile ordering. Suddenly, other pizza executives were shivering in their huts wondering what on earth just happened.

Perhaps if some of the casual dining restaurants could reinvent themselves around the food, they might find a new life.

Otherwise, they'll be cursing like Gordon Ramsay for a long time to come.

Published on: Jun 5, 2017