What are the latest trends in the cooking, restaurant industry? What technologies will be used to create tomorrow’s signature dishes? Will we see a resurgence of the molecular gastronomy craze, or has that time has passed us by?
Preparing for the future has never been more important than now. With new technologies and trends emerging every day, you need to be ready with a plan so that you can stay ahead of your competition.
In this blog post, we’re going to break down some of the most influential restaurant trends coming in 2021 and beyond that will affect chefs, restaurateurs, grocers, and cooks alike.
Trends of Restaurant Industry 2021
1) Streamlined menus
Although many restaurateurs are adding new items to their menus, the number of dishes on offer has decreased. This is a response to diners’ growing desire for simpler food and more personalized ordering experiences. The rise in popularity of “build your own” restaurants also demonstrates this trend – customers want control over what they eat, never to be disappointed.
Restaurateurs who have adapted their menus to cater to diners’ changing tastes have seen a boost in customer satisfaction and sales. Those restaurateurs that refuse to adapt will find themselves losing customers as more people become aware of the trend and head elsewhere instead.
Streamlined menus enable chefs to spend less time in the kitchen and more time with their customers to customize dishes to individual tastes. This approach seems likely to succeed as diners become increasingly interested in quality ingredients and authentic experiences.
The typical restaurant menu will be defined by a range of small plates showcasing different cuisines worldwide. Each dish consists of a small number of ingredients, and only fresh produce in season is sourced locally wherever possible.
2) Pop-up restaurants
Pop-up restaurants have been around for a while, but it is only recently that they have become big business. Restaurants spring up worldwide and cater to local tastes on an ad hoc basis before packing up their kitchens and moving onto new territory. With just days’ notice or hours, can booked pop-ups.
The main advantages for pop-ups are that they can test out new concepts in different markets; widen their customer base using social media marketing campaigns; save on start-up costs, including rent, since leasing agreements tend to be short-term (a few months).
How much profit can a pop-up restaurant make? Pop-up restaurants can make good incomes if they’re willing to think outside the box. For instance, If they seat 50 people at a fixed meal price of $150, they’ll generate over $7,500 in revenue per night.
3) Ghost kitchen
What is a ghost kitchen, and is it sustainable?
One of the newer restaurant trends that are having a significant impact in today’s market is a concept known as “ghost kitchens.” While these restaurants use an employee base and certain equipment, they do not need a physical dining space.
They opt to parcel out their services through websites and third-party apps like Grubhub, UberEats, and DoorDash, or with their own delivery operation.
It’s an increasingly popular option for chefs who don’t want to invest in their own restaurant and those interested in starting their food empire from home or abroad.
Ghost kitchens are popping up all over the world and in a variety of formats. Some only offer cooking services, while others serve as full-service restaurants specializing in take-out meals or catering events.
4) Vegan cuisine
Considering U.S. consumers spent nearly $1.9 billion on plant-based diets, the growing number of vegan dining options at chain restaurants makes perfect sense.
Exclusively vegan restaurants, or places that have vegan options, are growing in popularity as well.
Some of the most popular dishes:
-Miso soup (vegan)
-Pad Thai (vegetarian with tofu substitutions and can be made vegan by omitting egg)
-Thai green curry
In fact, the website Happy Cow, which operates like Yelp but for vegan and vegetarian food, has over 24,000 listings around the country with 1,474 exclusively vegan eateries.
5) At-home bartending
Trends like at-home bartending are expected to continue in 2021 and beyond. This trend is expected to affect restaurants that specialize in liquor and bar food and other restaurants, such as fast-casual chains with a full bar option at the location.
In the at-home bartending trend, customers can find pre-made liquor in various flavors to purchase and mix with their own ingredients. This is changing how people are going out for drinks as they are now more likely to stay home and make cocktails themselves instead of spending money on alcohol when eating out or drinking at bars.
Restaurants have responded with alcohol on the go menus but will it be enough to curve the loss?
6) Eco-friendly restaurants
More and more restaurants are trying to reduce energy usage, cut down on disposable products, minimize food waste, or any other practices.
Many restaurateurs are starting to use reusable packaging or even removing all single-use items from the menu.
Restaurants like New York’s Dirt Candy, San Francisco’s Nopalito, and even Northeastern Pennsylvania’s Grill 67 have all made it their mission to reduce the waste they produce daily. Eco-friendly restaurants are not just about sustainability, though. It can also be about sustainable sourcing food.
To many restaurateurs, it’s no longer just important to be eco-friendly – it is crucial for their business model and sustainability as an organization.
The restaurant industry must change with consumers’ desires if they want to remain competitive.
7) Curbside pick-up
The pandemic has caused many restaurants to offer curbside pick-up services for the first time. According to Technomic’s 2020 Delivery and Takeout Consumer Trend Report, 66% of consumers already anticipate continuing to use curbside pickup after dine-in services return to normal.
Curbside has become the new drive-through for restaurants. Curbside pickup is growing in popularity because it provides customers an alternative option to drive-throughs. Dinners are starting to realize that curbside is more convenient than drive-thru lines because they can conveniently pull into a parking spot for pickup, and partners will bring my order out to me, skipping the potential drive-thru line.
Many restaurants are finding that curbside pickup is a great solution for their busy drive-thru lanes. “We have folks who come in and say, ‘I’ll do it because I’m not going to wait ten minutes.'” says Mama’s Kitchen founder Cathy Mitchell. As the trend continues to grow, it will provide new opportunities for both restaurants and consumers.
8) Restaurant-brand meal kits
When the recent coronavirus pandemic was announced, chefs and restaurant owners looked for ways to improve revenue. One strategy is to create meal kits so diners can make their favorite dishes at home.
The restaurant meal kit trend is a great mechanism to help your guests make their favorite dishes at home. It’s also an asset for restaurant owners, as it helps with inventory and takes the pressure off of limited kitchen staff during difficult periods like coronavirus pandemics.
Several restaurant industry professionals are offering meal kits. Restaurant meal kits capitalize on the elevated trend of guests cooking on their own, yet also erases a lot of the prep work, but it does not require the prep work that a subscription from a service like Blue Apron, HelloFresh, or Plated would require.
Restaurant Design Trends
Restaurant design is an industry that has seen a significant change in recent years. As tastes and trends evolve, restaurants are changing their designs to offer more than just food service.
The way a restaurant is designed, from its kitchens to dining room, makes a lasting impression on customers and their decision to become loyal patrons.
A restaurant’s design can also be a key factor in whether or not the establishment can generate repeat customers.
One of the most notable trends in restaurant design is for restaurants to provide more communal dining and gathering spaces, which give customers a place to socialize before or after their meal.
Restaurant designers are also finding new ways to integrate technology into designs with features like interactive menus that allow guests to order without any human interaction; digital signage that gives customers a preview of the menu; and digital screens positioned at every table that offers likely diners more information on their food or restaurant.
Restaurant Technology Trends
What are the restaurant technology trends to watch?
From contactless technology, online table reservation, digital kitchen boards to QR codes to access nutritional menu information, these are some of the technological trends in restaurants we can expect.
The restaurant industry is changing. The way people eat, work, and socialize is all transforming by introducing new technologies and shifting economic landscapes.
To stay competitive in this ever-changing food, landscape restaurateurs need to be innovative, committed, and resilient.