Several market forces that influenced the industry in 2022 were a consequence of the pandemic’s onset in 2020. 2023 brings with its new challenges that are also filled with opportunities for growth, profitability, and sustainability.
Industry analysts predict that labor and supply chain pressure will shape and drive most of the restaurant trends this year. This shift will naturally push people in the industry to engage in cost-cutting strategies and also embrace labor-saving restaurant technologies to increase cash flow for wage increases.
The primary restaurant trend that has already set in along with the pandemic is the use of one’s own restaurant website to increase direct food orders and enjoy commission-free profits.
Restaurant owners will also explore food delivery options that do not involve third-party food delivery apps. To make judicious use of off-premise food demand, restaurants might hike delivery menu prices to make it a more lucrative channel.
Although menu variety is substantial for every dining experience, smaller and simplified menus are easier for restaurants to manage. The days of long, winding menus are slowly becoming things of the past as customers do not want low food quality that results due to long menus.
Advantages Of Simplified Menus:
- Help cooks get creative with every dish
- Help in cost-cutting through streamlined inventory management
- Result in less food wastage
- Gives chefs an opportunity to build more proficiency with food items
- Help in improving food quality
5 Ways To Simplify The Menu
Identify Popular Dishes
While cutting short the menu, identify the dishes that are ordered the most. Retain dishes that have performed consistently well over a period of time using past sales and profits data. Also, offer daily specials. Reinventing the menu and keeping it fresh and exciting is also important.
Calculate Costs While Pricing The Menu
Restaurant owners must calculate how much money is spent on each dish. This should include food costs, cooking supplies, and employee wages. Subtract the costs from the dish’s menu price to know the profit margin of every dish. Remove items that have slim profit margins or modify their ingredients to offer newer dishes.
Focus On Menu Design
A menu’s design and functionality impact the dining experience. Use easy-to-read fonts on the menu and highlight profitable dishes. Add brief descriptions along with clear prices for every item on the menu. To attract customers who order food online, keep the digital menu mobile-friendly and easy to read. The online menu must also be updated regularly just like your hand-out menu.
Restaurants must avoid purchasing ingredients that are used for one menu item alone as it can turn out to be wasteful. While simplifying the menu, choose ingredients that can be used for various dishes. Cross-using ingredients improve the kitchen’s overall efficiency as food is prepared and served to the tables quickly.
Order Ingredients From Bulk Food Stores
Deciding where the common ingredients come from also determines profit margins. It is always wise to order supplies from a bulk wholesale food and beverage supplier. Restaurant owners can enjoy better deals and offer on bulk orders.
Health Conscious Food On The Menu
Customers are increasingly inclining towards health-conscious diets. Thus, the restaurant has to adapt to this customer-centric trend by including dishes that satisfy their health-conscious diners. Younger generations are attracted by terms like GMO-free, organic, 100% natural, etc. and are even willing to pay higher prices for such meals.
The restaurant industry also has to embrace the latest trend of customers’ preference for vegan cuisine. People are consuming less meat year on year and the variety in vegan diets is also increasing. Such vegan cuisines are becoming more appealing to people who follow flexitarian, vegetarian and even omnivorous diets.
How Can Restaurants Offer Health Conscious Food?
- Create healthier options on the menu
- Remove processed or pre-packaged ingredients from the inventory
- Offer recipes using seasonal produce to provide taste and freshness
- Reducing the size of the serving portions
- Distinct differentiation of vegan and vegetarian options on the menu
Green Kitchens And Environmental Concerns
Customers are increasingly taking note of what restaurants are doing to keep their operations environment-friendly and achieve sustainability. The awareness of sustainable business practices has increased amidst customers too. So, trends in the restaurant industry are not always related to food or its service.
People are noticing how restaurants are handling water pollution and plastic waste. People like restaurants that offer eco-friendly, biodegradable alternatives to plastic straws, plastic cups, lids or use-and-throw bags. Thus, green kitchens are increasingly on the rise. Such green kitchens aim to reduce waste as much as possible and focus on recycling and reusing leftovers whenever possible. Restaurants can make use of paper straws, wax paper cups and fiber to-go containers to convey to their customers that they are an environment-friendly and responsible restaurant.
Ghost kitchens rely on another trend that is likely to continue into 2023 too – food delivery. Ghost kitchens are restaurants that have only a kitchen but no dining space. Running ghost kitchens means lower overhead costs and no requirement for service staff. Such kitchens work on the delivery-only ordering model and use a ghost-kitchen POS system. They only need to invest in creating a robust restaurant website and an impressive online presence.
In 2020, ghost kitchens mostly referred only to restaurants that relied completely on third-party delivery services. But now, the concept is evolving and includes restaurants that have a small pick-up area for guests to procure their parcels themselves.
This trend is greatly influencing the way the industry is operating. Restaurants now have to design customer service and brand management strategies without the need to face any customers.
Post-pandemic, delivery services have gained great prominence in the restaurant industry. While pizzerias have always operated their delivery mechanisms independently, today, even small businesses take the help of third-party food delivery apps to handle their orders. But, these small players were quick to realize the exorbitant commissions that they had to pay to these third parties and their unreasonable terms and conditions. For instance, Uber Eats charges a commission of nearly 30% on every order.
Other reasons why restaurants are relinquishing third-party food delivery apps are:
- Customer complaints on delivery executives
- Slow delivery of food as delivery executives are not accountable to the restaurant
- Delivery personnel unable to provide customers with condiments or napkins
- Delivery app taking credit and recognition leading to the restaurant losing its value and reputation
Strengthen Online Presence
Standalone, small-chain restaurants must now take a different approach to online reputation management. They should not only be on the lookout for customer complaints and address them immediately, they should also make it convenient for guests to make online reservations and review their menu. Rather than relying on apps like Yelp, OpenTable, Reserve, etc., small players must create websites with modern, responsive website design as a long-term solution to stay in touch with customers. The best ways to strengthen one’s online presence is to make it convenient for customers to find the correct restaurant, make a reservation, get directions to reach the place and also review the menu.
Self-Serve/Grab-And-Go And Use Of Automation
Several companies have developed new pre-made menu items through vending machines and self-serve bars in order to reduce waiting time, decrease factory overhead costs, and also benefit from the increasing demand for readymade meals. Restaurants are also increasingly resorting to technology and automation as an alternative to tackle the problem and challenges of finding and retaining good employees.
Restaurants must make use of intelligent software that gives them a competitive edge and helps them to stay abreast with top restaurant trends. A POS software is the best way for a food outlet to make quick menu changes, reduce costs, control finances and increase cash flow.
Restaurant Survival: Always Stay On The Watch Out For Trends
At the beginning of every year or even in every quarter, restaurant owners need to re-examine all their business aspects and introduce significant changes to the existing strategies and operation models.
Restaurateurs must always stay watchful of changing restaurant trends that are likely to affect their business and adapt themselves accordingly in order to survive and prosper. For more help in restaurant management and digital marketing, get in touch.