Today’s restaurant guests have relatively high expectations. They’ve witnessed the transformation of restaurants from a place to dine with friends and family to a space that offers a unique experience, something that can’t be repeated at home.
They want a memory that lasts, an Instagram moment, a sensory experience. Is your brand delivering?
One of the most challenging aspects of the restaurant industry is staying relevant to your customers and target market. How do you stand out? The key is constant innovation. Here, we’ll explore the latest trends and the industry sources that help you stay up with the ever-changing landscape known as the hospitality industry.
Several restaurant and entertainment sources can help you stay abreast of food, technology, customer, and operational trends. Here are a few of the many.
EMERGING Magazine offers a unique perspective on the latest trends in restaurant and entertainment concepts. As an industry leader for decades, they share the insider’s look on labor issues, supply chain opportunities, food and beverage trends, emerging brands, and interviews with owners and operators on the cutting-edge of our changing industry. No Charge.
This magazine covers the business aspect of your restaurant, including the all-important benchmarks, legislative updates, and innovations. It’s the official magazine of the National Restaurant Association. Membership dues include an annual subscription.
Founded in 1967, NRN covers restaurant industry news, including information on marketing, operations, finance, corporate strategy, and consumer trends. In 2010, it was acquired by Penton Restaurant Group. An annual premium digital subscription costs $29.95.
Changing Customer Tastes & Trends
While chasing trends can leave you dizzy and dysfunctional, staying abreast of your guests’ changing tastes can ensure they’re always excited to experience your latest offering.
According to the Cambridge Dictionary, a fad is “a style, activity, or interest that is very popular for a short period of time.” Conversely, a trend is “a general development or change in a situation or in the way that people are behaving.” Chasing fads will leave you exhausted and operationally depleted. Incorporating trends will ensure an up-to-date venue that inspires.
The following represent some of today’s trends that are expected to stick around:
- Regional Cuisines: This trend incorporates the indigenous ingredients found within a particular region. While many places use similar ingredients, it’s the herbs, spices, cooking techniques, and food combinations that define an area.
To offer food and beverages that genuinely reflect a culture requires an immersion into the particular region—a deep understanding and authenticity that goes beyond recipes. Some of the trending cuisines, as seen in the National Restaurant Association’s 2023 What’s Hot Culinary Forecast include:
- Southeast Asian (Philippine, Singaporean, Vietnamese)
- Balkan (Bulgarian, Croatian, Turkish)
- Caribbean (Cuban, Dominican, Puerto Rican)
- South American (Argentinian, Brazilian, Chilean)
- Functional Foods: These foods offer more than the essential nutrients we need to survive. They’re often considered “super foods” or those that offer enhanced health benefits. They may contain ingredients that boost your mood and reduce stress.
A Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey found that about half of adults ages 18-24 experienced symptoms of anxiety and depression in 2023. Overall, just over 32% of adults experience these symptoms. If there was ever a time to help our guests ease their angst, now is it. Some trending foods that help reduce stress include the following:
- Lion’s Mane: This medicinal mushroom has been part of traditional Chinese medicine for centuries. Today, it’s showing up in many restaurant kitchens. A report in Splash Magazine highlighted the many chefs offering Lion’s Mane specials on Earth Day. Lion’s mane is said to relieve mild anxiety and depression, reduce inflammation, boost the immune system, and more.
- Adaptogens: These active ingredients found in specific plants and mushrooms help bring the body back into balance and may reduce stress, anxiety, and fatigue. Common ones include ginseng, ashwagandha, eleuthero, and Rhodiola. As the number of guests ordering non-alcoholic drinks rises, restaurants are getting creative—offering beverages with healthy additives.
Training Your Staff
It’s easy to get into a rut. A survey conducted by Oracle found that 75% of employees surveyed felt stuck, personally and professionally. One way to keep the excitement going and the energy high is through regular training. Also, many restaurants are advancing from within their ranks. Instead of searching outside their doors, they’re transforming bussers to servers or bartenders to assistant managers to managers. This strategy motivates existing employees, keeping them engaged and excited.
Fortunately, training has transformed from boring printed sheets that never get read to mobile apps and in-person sessions. A few options in this arena include F&B Insights, a platform that helps restaurants enhance their partnership with suppliers. On one end, you receive an additional revenue stream by selling your sales data, one of your most valuable resources.
On the other end, suppliers gain data-driven awareness of their brand’s performance and provide education that ensures your team can give your guests the best experience possible. Their equipped with extensive knowledge regarding your menu and beverage items, brands, and backstories, creating a memorable occasion your guests are certain to share with friends and family.
Of course, we’ve barely scratched the surface of the latest innovations and trends in our ever-evolving industry. At EMERGING, we help restaurants and entertainment concepts benchmark their growth, identify areas to excel in, and execute the most efficient path to excellence. To learn more or to schedule a consultation, contact EMERGING today.