For millennials, food isn’t just food. It’s community.

For millennials, food isn’t just food. It’s community.Four years ago, as restaurants were watching their sales drop by double digits during the great recession, the owners of Silver Diner were grappling with their own response to the crisis: Would they follow the pack and cut costs to survive the downturn, or would they attempt to reimagine the diner experience for the emerging millennial generation?

The latter option held the potential of great reward. Millennials – or generation Y or echo boomers – are those born, depending on who’s doing the polling, anywhere from 1978 to 2000. Their population is reported to rival that of the baby boomers. By some estimates, approximately 80 million Americans call themselves millennials, about a million more than those graying rebels known as boomers. That’s 80 million mouths to feed, from coast to coast.

Robert Giaimo, co-founder of Silver Diner, made the decision to revamp his small chain for a generation that was looking for more than an all-day pancake breakfast and a bottomless cup of coffee.

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