Restaurant and food predictions have been rolling in for 2018, and they’re pretty much all over the map. 2018 is going to be a big year in forward-thinking restaurant industry trends and technologies.
Restaurant & Food Trends 2018
So, which 2018 food and restaurant trends are worth trying? We did the work for you. These 10 trends were selected with your bottom line in mind. Each one can improve guest satisfaction, boost sales, and streamline your operation. Here, we explore these restaurant and food trends that we’re looking forward to in 2018:
- Plant-based dining
- More pop-ups
- Instagram-worthy foods
- Digital menus
- Mobile payments
- Environmental consciousness
- Flower power
- Technology-driven operations
Globally renowned and respected restaurant consultancy agency, Baum+Whiteman, predicts that plant-based dining is 2018’s trend of the year – according to their latest trend report. Basically, ‘plant-based’ is the new ‘organic’. Beyond the 90% increase in vegan searches on Google in the past year, even McDonald’s rolled out a vegan burger as part of its permanent menu in select countries.
Leading the consumer shift are millennials and generations X and Y, yet numbers indicate that adopting vegetarian dining is nationwide and cross-generational. The Baum + Whitman report also states that 31% of Americans practice meat-free days.
Through 2018 and into 2019, it’s predicted that restaurants will start adopting attractive and high-quality plant-based options.
Just like food trucks, pop up restaurants are quickly becoming an alternative to traditional dining. A study by Eventbrite shows that pop-ups are increasing and that customers not only appreciate these events but are willing to spend more money to attend them.
Pop-ups attract experiential diners who crave unique events that are memorable and intimate. These unique dining experiences also attract trendy influencers who use social media to make restaurant recommendations to their friends. Although it’s temporary in nature, the impact of a pop-up can be permanent.
Chefs like the concept because pop-ups are cheaper to fund than a food truck or full-fledged restaurant. Pop-ups require only a minimal investment to cover food ingredients, insurance, labor and rental space. Chefs can test pricing models, try out different locations and even move from city to city to build their reputation. Check out this article from TouchBistro for inspiration on restaurant pop-ups.
One company taking this trend by storm are the Bearded Bakers and their famous shipping container turned food truck: The Knafeh Bakery. Known for their Jerusalem street food and dancing bearded men, they have attracted thousands of people from all over. The bakery is mobile and sets up somewhere different in Sydney every weekend. Recently, they have taken their mobile restaurant to New York City. To see where Knafeh will set up next in New York, follow them on Facebook and Instagram.
For the past few years, food trends have become more and more focused on what’s Instagrammable. Chefs, social media influencers, and marketing managers believe that for better or worse, Instagram has influenced how we eat. From rainbow unicorn Frappuccinos to impossibly tall burgers dripping with cheese, trendy foods aimed at 20-somethings are now almost entirely focused on aesthetic and rarity.
Success on Instagram is firstly about knowing what your audience is talking about. That means doing your research and jumping on food trends when they happen. Make your food stand out by playing with table settings, layouts, and natural light to create food that looks too good to eat.
Paramount Coffee Project in Sydney, Australia is a prime spot for snapping food photos. They became so popular in Australia that they just opened up a second location in one of top bombing coffee culture cities – Los Angeles. Not only do they offer Instagram-worthy coffee and a variety of trendy foods, but the store itself looks like it’s out of a magazine. One of the most popular things to take photos of is the ramen and it’s easy to see why.
If you didn’t Instagram it, did it even happen?
Menu automation is one of the most tedious aspects of restaurant operations, especially in the case of multiple restaurant outlets. A digital mobile or desktop solution allows restaurants to tweak their menus and make them more cost-efficient. Customers ordering digitally are proven to order more than if they interact with employees, and displaying targeted promotional items or meal add-ons on the kiosk screen will increase the amount they spend.
Companies like MenuPad give guests the ability to order from a digital menu and securely pay from their handheld restaurant tablets. These solutions can also display interesting content and games that your customers can enjoy while waiting for their order.
Another great feature is that digital menus allow you to change menu items and update prices instantly, without the need to reprint a new batch of menus. With laws from the FDA requiring the display of nutrition information, the ability to offer this information to customers in an engaging way via digital content provides benefits for both the customer and the restaurant.
The smartphone has quickly become the go-to device for anything and everything. Following an exceptionally slow rate of adoption over the last few years, restaurant mobile payments are finally starting to catch on, particularly in the quick-service industry. Multiple operators have reported huge increases in their adoption of mobile payment. Starbucks saw 30% of payments via mobile and McDonald’s will begin 2018 with mobile order and pay in 20k locations. According to IT Pro Portal, it’s been estimated that 90 percent of smartphone users will have made at least one mobile payment by the close of 2020.
To make the buying process as seamless as possible, a growing number of retailers are adopting digital wallets and mobile payments, which allow users to pay for their items directly without using cash or credit cards. This makes it easier than ever for consumers to complete their transactions, and also makes it easier for companies to collect information on their clients’ purchases and behavior. Cloud accounting software provider Xero offers multiple options of digital payments for small businesses. Xero’s CTO believes that mobile payments are the way of the future:
“By enabling these connections with payment services, small businesses are able to offer multiple payment options on an invoice, giving them and their customers choice of payment and also the ability to pay the invoice as soon as it arrives, ensuring they get paid faster.”
Consumers are now more aware than ever of where their food is sourced, waste generation and disposal, recycling, and energy consumption – and will use their power to support restaurants that share their values.
These days, it’s becoming easier to find menus that feature local, organic and other sustainably-sourced fare. Though for restaurateurs who truly want to go as green as possible, the menu is just a starting point. A lot of environmentally conscious measures are easy to implement and won’t break the bank. Be sure to check out the Green Restaurant Association website. Here you can find out how to become an official “Green” restaurant. They have plenty of resources for recycling, composting, reducing energy use and much more.
In the world of casual fast food, Chipotle is a cut above the rest. Chipotle’s Gurnee, IL restaurant is the first ever restaurant to receive platinum certification in the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system. Some features implemented in this restaurant include rain water collected from the roof used to irrigate the landscaping and a wind turbine that provides up to 5% of the restaurant’s energy needs. Chipotle also aims to avoid food waste by donating leftovers to Harvest Program. Check out more of their environmentally friendly work here.
Whole Foods Market put floral flavors as the No. 1 trend on its 2018 food forecast. Floral inspiration, it says, is in full bloom with drinks and snack foods flavored with sweet and fresh aromatics. Look for flowers in things like lavender lattés and rose-flavored everything.
Historically, floral flavors such as jasmine, rose and chamomile have been used in teas but are now making their way into other types of beverages. Companies like Blossom Water and H2 Rose are moving passed tea and creating full lines of floral-infused waters.
Coffee shop Bia takes flower power to a whole new level. They incorporate rose and lavender in their specialty coffees. Bia makes its lavender coffee by adding all-natural lavender syrup, which is created in-house and takes three days to complete. They also add a beautiful garnish of edible lavender. The rose latte is also made with its in-house rose syrup and, you guessed it, garnished with a bright red rose petal.
Technology continues to assume an increasingly important role in the restaurant industry, with a growing number of restaurant operators implementing a variety of solutions to increase sales and efficiency. We are now in the position where we can learn more about our customers, employees and our business more than ever. Technology advances allow restaurant owners to harness the data collected from every area of their restaurant to help optimize their productivity.
Look for more restaurants to introduce a variety of new technologies to their daily restaurant operations to automate time-consuming tasks. Employee scheduling, for example, is one of those time-consuming tasks that all restaurant managers battle with. Employee scheduling software apps help managers quickly fill shifts and notifies employees of open shifts on their smartphones. Employees can swap shifts on their own and self manage their time off requests and availability within the app. By streamlining the scheduling process, managers have more time to focus on the restaurant itself rather than the small details that keep it running.
Automating these processes can help restaurant owners keep labor costs down, improve communication with staff, and ensure that your employees show up on time.
In 2018, we will see leaner businesses who are more reactive, profitable and efficient, working with engaged, happy employees who perform better and, above all, enjoy work.
Many restaurant managers are now turning toward workforce management systems to provide a reliable solution for managing employee shift-times as well as labor costs and compliance. Deputy has been ranked as the best employee management software by GetApp, based on reviews, integrations, mobile availability, media presence and security. Deputy has helped hundreds of businesses, big and small.
Looking to join the trend? Get a free 30 day trial of Deputy now to see how much our software can benefit your restaurant.