It’s that time when we look ahead at a New Year and all the possibilities yet to unfold. Some of us may be licking our wounds from a somewhat difficult year, while others relish the fact that there are guests seated in our indoor spaces. However 2021 unfolded for you, it’s time to wipe the slate clean and gear up for your best year yet. So here’s a glimpse into 2022 and what chefs and experts expect to transpire in the coming year.
Increasing Revenue Streams
If there’s one thing the pandemic taught us, it was the importance of diversity. Those that survived did so through grit and determination, pivoting from one revenue stream to another as the world changed around them. Those changes will remain with us, creating a more sustainable business model that can ride through unexpected upheavals.
A few of these additional revenue streams include adding a retail component, selling grocery items, and offering meal and cocktail combinations to-go. Chefs and bartenders also turned to online classes in cooking and mixology to help them through a tough year. That offering is expected to continue, with some opting to add these unique events in person.
The National Restaurant Association found that 50% of consumers would order a meal kit from their favorite restaurant, as well as grocery items like bread, meat, and produce, according to Lunchbox.
For those of you who have been in the restaurant industry for some time, you probably remember when it was not unusual for restaurants to operate seven days a week. Those hours of operation seem to be waning as the pandemic sparked a glimpse into quality-of-life issues for employees in this sometimes-brutal business.
It looks like 2022 will be seeing more restaurants changing their operating hours to five or six days a week. While the labor shortage is part of this changing landscape, it’s also about taking care of the people who work for and support our industry and ensuring our core team remains intact as we face the inevitable challenges that will continue to present themselves.
Streamlined Menus With Cultural Influences
The supply chain shortage and rising food prices caused most chefs and restaurant operators to take a good look at their menu, changing it weekly, if not daily. The good news is that pricing appears to be stabilizing, and products like wings and other proteins are even starting to see some cost relief.
Nevertheless, the trend of streamlining menus and minimizing costs will continue. The supply chain disruption also made us realize how fragile the global supply chain is. As a result, chefs are looking more toward local foods, supporting their local farmers and other artisans, helping create a robust local supply chain that is good for the regional economy and the environment.
Virtual restaurants also sprouted up in restaurant kitchens across the nation. Many of these were based on cultural influences, chefs bringing their unique flavors and passed-downed recipes from their ancestors. This changing atmosphere will affect the foods we see on our menus in 2022.
Food and Flavors
Going back to our roots, traditions, and cultural influences will continue to impact the restaurant industry in the coming year. Open-fire cooking is one of those traditions, believed to have started about 1.8 million years ago when Homo erectus first used fire to cook their meat.
Open-fire cooking uses natural wood and active flames in an open wood grill or hearth to cook food, delivering the unique flavor of different types of wood. Cherry, pecan, ash, oak, and hickory are sourced from wood suppliers that focus on the restaurant market.
The supply chain crisis and health-conscious dinners have also created the perfect storm for a continued plant-based dietary movement. More and more restaurants will offer vegetables as the main entrée and focus on cuisines where vegetables outshine meat or seafood as the main ingredient. Grains, beans, legumes, and seeds are also expected to take front and center stage.
Whatever trends define the coming year, it’s clear that sustainability, cultural influences, and developing a more balanced lifestyle will be on the menu. Here’s looking forward to the future.