Key Points

These 5 trends will thrust your restaurant into the new era

The changes made to stay in business as the restaurant industry emerges from the challenges of the 2020 pandemic have helped shape a few key trends. According to Forbes, these trends will impact how restaurants do business in 2022 and beyond. 

Restaurants Must Go Digital 

The pandemic motivated the restaurant industry to rely on digital and delivery. This means online ordering, delivery, and curbside pickup must be a part of your business model.

Having a presence on multiple online ordering apps is a must, as well as direct ordering on a restaurant’s own website. This means your restaurant must prioritize planning a digital menu with food quality and delivery. Even indoor dining restaurants will likely remain more digital, with some opting to keep online menus and table-ordering options, where meals are delivered to the table by runners. 

Delivery has increased significantly. According to an article by Boston Consulting Group, “Delivery’s market share jumped from 7% in 2019 to about 20% in 2020. Across the industry, digital ordering now represents 28% of all orders compared with 10% before the pandemic, with most brands showing increases.”

Because of this, virtual restaurant brands will become even more important as they help restaurants increase sales and profit margins. A growing segment of the restaurant business, virtual restaurants use existing restaurant kitchens to whip up orders from a menu that is designed for off-premise customers. It is anticipated that more than half of restaurants will have multiple brands running out of their kitchens by 2025. 

Restaurants Must Offer More Variety

Partly driven by the pandemic, consumers have been looking for variety. This includes new types of food choices like global cuisines, healthy meals, unusual ingredients, etc. Forbes said this trend has increased thanks to social media. TikTok, for example, has been a huge influence, exposing people to new food ideas and spreading diversity. In fact, a recent viral craze featured “onigiri,” Japanese rice balls.

New ideas and trends travel faster around the globe now, and food is no exception. By adding virtual restaurant brands, a restaurant can quickly introduce new cuisines with a lower investment, and the restaurant’s partner handles menu development and marketing to drive demand.

Restaurant Layouts Will Shift 

With off-premise dining remaining popular, restaurant owners must rethink how the physical layout of their restaurants will work best for their business, staff, and customers. Forbes predicts that what used to be a 70/30 split, with more front-of-the-house dining space and a limited back-of-the-house kitchen area, will flip to 30/70, with more back-of-the-house space, by 2025. 

The industry will also likely see more drive-thru setups, even for high-end eateries, and almost all brick-and-mortar restaurants will define specially designated areas for delivery drivers and consumers picking up their takeout orders.  

If you are looking to expand your kitchen, check out our partners at Southwest Restaurant Equipment.

Restaurants Will Adopt New Approaches To Catering

The shift from in-office work to a hybrid home-office split, as well as lingering concerns regarding the pandemic, have caused companies to rethink how they want to use catering in the workplace. This has also prompted restaurants to get creative about how to build back a healthy catering business.

Newer orders are more likely to be individually packaged — box lunches, for example, instead of large trays of shared food. Managers with remote workers might want to send food gifts or treats to their employees — for example, individual packages of gourmet cookies, pizza deliveries for a virtual pizza party, or fresh produce baskets.  

Delivery Robots Will Become More Mainstream

Delivery and service have always been reliant on people. To meet the increased demand, restaurants must rethink strategies for future growth, efficiency, and cost-effectiveness. Driver staffing is stretched and the costs need to come down for consumers, so the opportunity is wide open for automation and technology to step in. 

Some major cities are already testing or using robots for delivery. Dozens of cities in the U.S. will likely see their first delivery robots by the end of 2022. It’s already the norm in parts of Asia and India. Servers may even be replaced with robots to run food to tables in-house as staffing issues remain a problem. 

Time For Change

Through perseverance, ingenuity, and technology, the pandemic has helped fast-track into a new era for the restaurant industry. Transformational opportunities are wide open for both restaurants and consumers. Those not keeping up with the digital world will fall short in meeting consumer demands.

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