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Restaurant Industry Trends (2019)

The trend-driven nature of restaurants means that restaurant owners and operators are often forced to look up from their long to-do lists and keep a pulse on what’s happening in the industry. For those who don’t have the time to do their own research, here are key trends that will leave an impression on the industry.

Rise of Online Ordering

According to the National Restaurant Association, 3 in 5 consumers order delivery or takeout at least once a week. Delivery sales could rise an annual average of more than 20% to $365 billion worldwide by 2030, from $35 billion according to investment bank UBS. A recent study conducted by CHD Expert shows that restaurants will see this revenue from a variety of venues:

  • Pick-up: $124 billion
  • Direct delivery from a restaurant: $32 billion
  • Delivery from a 3rd party delivery company: $13 billion

While direct delivery from restaurants still reigns supreme, the crowded 3rd party space is getting creative with their approach to attract new diners to their platforms. According to Restaurant Business, subscription models that eliminate per-delivery fees in favor of a flat-rate subscription will emerge to present a clearer value proposition for consumers. This could provide a true competitive edge for 3rd party delivery that need to make an impression on those interested in ordering delivery.

Experimenting with Dining Experiences

For decades, quality of food and service has been at the center of the restaurant industry. With so many establishments making great food and providing exceptional service, what are restaurants doing to set themselves apart?

The industry will continue to move toward out-of-the-box experiences for consumers. Long gone are the days of typical two-for-one meals and happy hours. Restaurants are now pushed to ask themselves what they can do to offer diners an experience that they’ll never forget.

In response to the typical restaurant week that diners have grown tired of, year after year, reservation company, Resy, has partnered with Capital One to create Off Menu Week. This new program will take place in 6 major U.S. cities, Los Angeles, Washington D.C., San Francisco, New York, Chicago and Austin; it will offer customers an unconventional behind-the-scenes experience at their favorite restaurant.

For one week only, iconic eateries and neighborhood mainstays will serve experimental new concepts, off menu secrets, or a one-hit wonder that never made it to the menu. Capital One members will have first access to these reservations, making this first-of-its-kind experience an exclusive concept.

Consumers Spend Consciously

The word transparency holds a different meaning than it has in recent years. Instead of simply sharing the local farm where you buy your beef and chicken, guests are interested in a well-rounded transparency message beyond sourcing details.

This multi-faceted approach starts with manufacturers and operators, which Restaurant Business expects will have guests demanding full transparency on pricing by revealing true net costs and unbundled costs; corporate performance, by emphasizing fair trade, diversity, living wages, and executive compensation; and the planet, by publicizing their real environmental impact, conservation initiatives, and progressive stance on animal welfare.

Restaurants should expect to see more guests flock to businesses that are operating with the planet in mind. A reduction of plastic utensils or Styrofoam takeout containers is only the beginning. Zero waste kitchens and an increase in plant-based menu items will attract conscious consumers that are willing to spend their hard-earned cash in like-minded establishments.

Wellness Warriors Enter the Industry

While functional foods have been all the rage in the wellness industry, they have recently gone mainstream in the restaurant industry. Data from approximately 9,000 Upserve guests revealed a 149% increase in fermented foods and a 99% increase in CBD on menus last year, setting up this year as the year of functional foods and drinks.

Functional ingredients that are naturally present in foods, like the gut-healthy probiotics in kombucha or calming derivative in CBD oil, have consumers interested in healing from the inside with every meal.

Despite the lack of knowledge from consumers, kombucha has managed to grow in popularity. Fully Rooted started wholesaling their products late last year, selling to local restaurants, cafes, and small businesses.

Cultivating Culture to Fight Team Turnover

With the restaurant industry turnover rate hovering around 73%, we need to get serious about restaurant environments. One hospitality group in Pennsylvania developed specific mentoring programs to tackle this issue. High Street Hospitality offers tools for career growth for all levels at its restaurants, such as mentoring, training, and formal coaching programs. It’s great you make people know you are there to support them.

This progress in the restaurant industry means that owners and managers will feel the pressure to put culture first and offer their team members benefits, a stable environment and opportunities for growth.

The Restaurant Tech Takeover

As restaurants strive to provide a frictionless experience for consumers, restaurant technology companies are aiming to do to the same for restaurant operators. All-in-one restaurant management platforms have become a valuable tool for restaurant owners and managers to integrate point-of-sale, analytics, online ordering, inventory management, and more, allowing them more time to pay attention to their guests and watch for emerging trends that could make their business the next big thing.

To keep up with new demands, upgrading your restaurant management platform will be a top priority. You need to seriously consider a cloud-based restaurant management platform that boasts point-of-sale, inventory, online ordering, loyalty programs, a mobile application and payment processing.

  • Keeping up with Restaurant Industry Trends

While some aspects of the industry are evergreen, trends are always on the horizon and the most successful restaurants seek out ways to stay ahead of the competition. By keeping up with new and emerging trends, restaurant owners and operators have the opportunity to offer their guests new experiences as well as attract new diners.

 A. Read restaurant industry blogs

There are hundreds and possibly thousands of restaurant industry blogs that are eagerly waiting to be read. Pick those that offer you the best insights on the latest industry trends.

B. Stay active on social media

With 77% of the population active on social media today, there is no better place to keep up with trends than bustling platforms of Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Restaurant owners and their guests are constantly sharing their experiences, giving you access to millions of emerging experiences and food and beverage trends.

C. Network with other restaurant owners and operators

Although social media gives you great access, sometimes the best knowledge comes from staying connected by networking with restaurant owners and operators around you.

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