While we may not know who came up with those wise words, we do know they ring true for entrepreneurs in the restaurant industry. These last few years have proven challenging, uplifting, turbulent, and groundbreaking for restaurant trends. Yet, for every earth-shattering upheaval, there seems to be a gift in its wake.
“Small business isn’t for the faint of heart. It’s for the brave, the patient, and the persistent. It’s for the overcomer.”—Unknown
So, what will the New Year bring? While this period in our industry seems to be as uncertain as any we’ve experienced, there are those willing to go out on a ledge and predict our future. One month to go, and 2023 will be here. Here’s what the experts suggest the future holds.
Keeping Menu Prices Down
In direct opposition to 2022, many in the restaurant industry see establishments coming up with effective and creative ways to keep costs and menu prices down, particularly if restaurant traffic starts to be affected by shrinking disposable income. This includes finding alternative cuts of meat, like chicken thighs and pork shoulders, and focusing on zero waste.
Socialize, Celebrate, and Explore
According to the National Restaurant Association’s 2023 What’s Hot survey, consumers are still looking for an experience and something that they cannot replicate at home. More than 70% of those surveyed are looking for an on-site experience, gathering at local neighborhood eateries for connections as well as sustenance. Healthier selections, globally-inspired dishes, and comfort foods continue to trend.
A few of the notable global influences include Southeast Asian foods from the Philippines, Vietnam, and Singapore. Caribbean foods also garnered a top spot, particularly from Puerto Rico, Cuba, and the Dominican Republic. Some emerging trends to watch are Amazake—a Japanese drink made from fermented rice, and Raki—a Turkish alcohol made from twice-distilled anise and grapes. In addition, tropical influences are seen in Hawaiian haupia, a coconut pudding.
A continuing trend, and one you can’t miss if you’ve been on Instagram, is Ube. This purple yam from the Philippines has found its way into desserts and savory dishes.
The Butter Board
Another trend instigated by social media, the Butter Board has become a viral TikTok wonder. Why? According to Game Revolution, it all started with chef Joshua McFadden and his Six Seasons: A New Way with Vegetables book. It really took hold, however, when food blogger Justine Doiron posted the concept on TikTok and Instagram and then brought it to the public’s attention on Good Morning America.
As the name describes, this menu item is comparable to a charcuterie board, only with butter. Toppings you can expect to see added to the top of the butter include sundried tomatoes, fresh herbs, dates and dried cranberries, nuts and seeds, and meat offerings like chopped steak, bacon, and salami. This is then served with French bread, crostini, or other items that taste better with butter.
Bye Bye Portabella
Almost every menu will see some form of vegetarian offering. Portabella mushrooms were once the go-to—a very meaty-like mushroom well-suited for grilling and stuffing. Taking over is the medicinal maitake mushroom, a name which, in Japanese, means “dancing mushroom.” It’s rich in vitamin D and purported to help boost the immune system and balance blood sugar. You can expect to see this mushroom on pasta dishes and in Asian hot pots, fried, stirred, and stuffed.
Table for One
According to Resy’s 2023 Trend Report, the hashtags #SoloDate and #DiningAlone garnered over 150 million views on TikTok. As taking care of one’s self continues to make headlines, so does enjoying a nice meal alone. Has your restaurant created a space for a single diner? Think counter-style, communal, and bar-side seating.
While it’s hard to think ahead in the midst of the holiday season, 2023 will soon be upon us, and now’s the time to find your New Year inspiration.
What will food prices be in 2023?
According to the USDA, food prices are predicted to increase between 3-4%. Restaurant prices are expected to see the biggest increase, averaging 4-5%, while food-at-home comes in at 2.5-3.5%.
What food trends will emerge in 2023?
According to whole foods, one of the food trends to look for in 2023 is yaupon, a Southeastern U.S. holly bush whose leaves have been used by Indigenous Americans to make herbal tea for about 8,000 years. Eventually, everything comes back around again.
On that same note, nostalgia is another trending or continuing-to-trend concept, only with a healthy twist. Look for items like boxed vegan mac and cheese and classic coke with added prebiotics for a healthy gut.