In the food and beverage industry, fads come and go quickly and to maintain relevance it is key to stay on top of these trends. Understanding how to leverage them so they are both authentic and efficient in your restaurant is an important component to growing revenue for your business.
Consumers are becoming more and more focused on environmental health, as well as their own personal well being. Sustainability in the restaurant industry is on the rise, and The National Restaurant Association predicts that hyper-local sourcing, or growing produce on property, will be a top trend this year. The NRA’s overall forecast for 2017, based on a survey of approximately 1,300 professional chefs, revolves around a movement towards environmentally friendly dining and nutritious menu offerings.
How can you, as a restaurateur, Chef or GM capitalize on this movement? If you’re taking the hyper-local sourcing approach, having a garden on-site will help you reduce waste and decrease spend on produce. Another way to be greener in your purchasing is to start by building relationships with the right suppliers from local farmers to meat purveyors who practice organic, hormone-free, or other eco-friendly growing or livestock raising methods. The next step is to hone in on your inventory management. Planning for smaller meat portions as well as plant-based dishes can potentially help you lower your food costs while becoming more sustainable at the same time. If you’re buying organic, which can be more expensive, ingredient-level inventory tracking can help reduce waste so you are using your purchases efficiently. Leveraging the right technology to manage this process will also help you streamline your operation and increase profitability.
Street Food & Global Cuisine
Street food is rising in popularity as consumers are looking for more interesting, authentic experiences when they dine out. Additionally, as the restaurant industry becomes more saturated and competitive, it is important to stand out and showcase diverse dishes. In a 2017 NRA survey, street food ranked as the top trend in the dishes category and 70% of chefs surveyed cited it as being a hot trend for 2017.
Wondering how to interpret this trend in your concept? Creating specials on your menu to showcase global flavors is the best way to start so you are managing inventory responsibly and not over-ordering for a recipe that you don’t yet know the success of. If the dish sells well, you could move it to your regular or seasonal menu and forecast inventory accordingly. Another good strategy for incorporating exciting dishes to your menu is to leverage them as part of your marketing strategy. Posting specials and new dishes to social media can help spread the word about your restaurant and attract new customers. Around 80% of restaurant goers will search a restaurant before visiting, so having an online presence is key to promoting your establishment and the unique eats that you’re serving.
Shifts in Service Models
While fine dining will hold its place in the restaurant industry, other segments of full-service dining are predicted to move towards a fast-casual service model. Fast-casual concepts offer diners convenient quick service in a sit-down atmosphere. This service model is one answer to a bursting restaurant industry bubble in the U.S.
Adopting this service model only truly works for new concepts or existing casual table service establishments or quick service as it is a hybrid of the two. It requires downsizing staff or reassigning responsibilities around the restaurant. Leveraging self-serve kiosk technology can also help automate this service type. Diners can place their orders at the kiosk, and then pick them up at a counter or have them delivered to the table. This shift to a fast-casual model can make a difference in your bottom line as it reduces labor costs, a huge operating expense for most restaurants.
It’s also important for chefs and restaurateurs to understand the difference between what’s trendy and which new movements and concepts are here to stay. Will diners always be obsessed with avocado toast, artisan charcuterie or craft cocktails? Only time will tell. However, bringing elements of sustainability and efficiency to your menu and service will keep your operation on trend and even ahead of the industry curve.