In every industry, we need to keep on top of current trends if we want to stay relevant. Medical professionals study the latest techniques. Lawyers keep abreast of the latest cases and laws to best serve their clients. And restaurant owners need to keep track of the latest restaurant industry trends if they hope to stay ahead of their competition.
Of course, the latest trends have been heavily impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Although the COVID-19 pandemic severely affected the restaurant industry, it continuously grows and is expected to reach $898 billion dollars in sales by the end of 2022.
Many restaurants are still fighting to bounce back from the effects of the pandemic on their business. Many experts have theorized that it will take one or two years for things to return to normal.
Understanding the latest restaurant industry trends has the power to help restaurants navigate this somewhat new terrain and forge a path forward.
7 Restaurant Industry Trends That You Should Know
1. Online Ordering and Contactless Payment Are Here to Stay
Online ordering was a huge win for restaurants during the pandemic. And according to one survey, even after the pandemic, 69% of restaurants plan to continue using online ordering in their business. And another 94% will continue to offer contactless payment options.
This has proven to be important technology for restaurants across the board. Such ordering and payment systems are a great way for restaurants to meet the needs of their patrons, who enjoy the ease and convenience of online ordering and contactless payment.
This also attracts millennials who are currently make up a large portion of the customer base. In a recent Forbes report, millennials order food 3X more often than their parents. Plus about 67% of millennials report that they are more likely to make a purchase at restaurants that offer a delivery service.
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2. Use of Technology
Many restaurants have invested in technology to enhance service delivery.
Food chains have added self-service counters in conjunction with mobile apps where customers can place food orders and make payments. Some have even offered tech that pairs with wearable devices to notify customers of available seating..
To address the labor shortage challenge, others have capitalized on the use of robots to deliver orders to dine-in customers.
Another important technological feature is the rise of analytics in day-to-day operations. Such analytics help managers to better organize available staff to address customer needs, especially during busy hours.
3. Rise of Home Meal Kits
Now more than ever, there’s an cultural emphasis on eating a healthy, balanced diet. Because of this, some customers have cut back on ordering out and instead strive to prepare meals at home.
Because of this, home meal kits have really flourished. These meal kits services deliver boxes of pre-portioned ingredients along with a full list of recipe instructions right to the customer’s door. This allows customers to eat healthy, home cooked meals while also enjoying restaurant-quality dishes.
These home meal kits offer another great opportunity for restaurants to generate profit – and some restaurants have begun to cash in on this trend.
One of the latest restaurant industry trends that has emerged from evolving consumer needs is helping the environment and reducing waste.
Customers are becoming more environmentally aware and holding companies, including restaurants, responsible for their impact on the environment.
Because of this, customers are more inclined to support businesses that promote responsible and sustainable practices to decrease their carbon footprint.
Common environmental practices in the restaurant industry include using biodegradable containers, reducing food waste, and using paper straws over plastic.
5. A Healthier Food Option
Another trend, especially among millennials, is the rise of healthy eating – including options with zero animal products!
Over the past few years, we’ve seen a growing demand for vegan options on restaurant menus. And even if a restaurant doesn’t serve vegan options, they can still win with more organic, gluten-free, and all-natural options. Customers are even willing to pay more for such options.
We’ve even seen big chain restaurants taking advantage of this train. Take Burger King, which has begun offering a line of plant-based options, including the Impossible Burger, to their menu.
6. Ghost Kitchens
A ghost kitchen is a restaurant that doesn’t have a physical location for customers to visit – rather, they serve food exclusively through delivery.
Customers can place their orders on the website or mobile app, and then the order is delivered straight to their location. Traditionally, ghost kitchens do not offer any dine-in, drive-thru, or parking options. There are varieties on this, however, with some ghost kitchens offering a physical location where guests can pick up their food.
This has freed up many kitchens – after all, when they’re not limited by seating capacity, they’re free to fulfill as many orders as they want. For many, the income potential of this trend is limitless.
7. Simpler Food Menu
Labor shortages and supply chain issues have struck many restaurants across the country. Because of this, many have begun to streamline the menu.
By removing complicated menu items and using only locally-available ingredients, many restaurants have been able to manage these issues.
Concluding Thoughts on the Latest Restaurant Industry Trends
To stay in the competition, restaurants must know the latest restaurant industry trends. This helps them to address the ever-changing needs and preferences of their customers and even attract new ones.