It’s that time of year when our crystal balls emerge, and we look to the future, planning menus and staying ahead of the global restaurant trends to entice customers into our establishments. Many industry experts have lifted the veil, predicting what’s to come and how to get a jump ahead.
Let’s explore what’s hot in 2024, from menu items to unique brands and experiences.
Technomic recently came out with their 2024 foodservice trend predictions. As usual, they hit the industry spot on. “The need to perk up consumers weary of the past few years will be high on operators’ to-do lists. Expect this to be expressed through restaurant experiences, marketing, and menu development that are grounded in playful, whimsical, and escapist themes.”
They also mentioned interesting new Korean influences gaining prominence around the world. Some of these unfamiliar foods include K ramen, spicy tteokbokki rice cakes, and spicy-cheesy buldak chicken.
Restaurants will also be turning their attention to the “Just One” crowd, catering more to the solo diner. You can expect creative experiences catered to the single person and their friend Fido, as pet-friendly spaces and menus emerge.
The Food Institute and Placer.ai
The Food Institute recently spoke with R.J. Hottovy, Head of Analytical Research at Placer.ai, about the restaurant sector in 2024. One of the main takeaways was data that pointed to a value-driven consumer who would change brands to “have an experience, feel good, and make their dollars work.”
He noted the leading brands that have seen incredible numbers in the last year. In fast casual, the top brands are Wingstop, Raising Cane’s, and Panda Express. In the full-service category, Cooper’s Hawk, Texas Roadhouse, and Red Lobster lead the pack. Hottovy believes that innovation will be the key in 2024.
In Food Marketing & Design
In Food Marketing & Design’s 2024 Foodservice Forecast focuses on food, flavor, and experiences. A few of their predictions include more interlinked dining and gaming experiences. One of the interesting activity-based establishments gaining ground is an axe-throwing venue. One has to wonder about their insurance rates. Nostalgia also appears to be on the upswing, with several predictors expecting nostalgic menu favorites to reappear.
Another food flavor destined to remain into 2024 is the pickle. In 2023, searches for pickle-flavored foods was up 55%, according to Yelp. This flavor is showing up in condiments, martinis, and beer.
Chain Restaurants Taking Over the Earth in 2024
Now that you know what flavors and food items are making headlines, care to know what chains are expanding like mad? Many of these brands are innovative in nature, appealing to crowds looking for a unique experience. Most focus on quality food, and all have a loyal customer following. According to data compiled by Yahoo, these are some of the top contenders.
Tatte Bakery & Café
Tzurit Or, founder and self-taught pastry chef, started Tatte Bakery 15 years ago in her home kitchen. In addition to creating a thriving business, as a new immigrant, she wanted to create a sense of community, bringing people together with great food and pastries and a sense of belonging. Currently, Tatte is found throughout Greater Boston and Washington D.C., with 35 locations and growing.
True Food Kitchen
Phoenix-based True Food Kitchen was founded by none other than our favorite doctor specializing in integrative medicine, Dr. Andrew Weil. The brand’s motto? “The only restaurant fundamentally based on science which ensures all of its craveable dishes and drinks work to increase the longevity of our people and the planet.” That’s an impressive goal.
Founded in 2008, 10 years later, Oprah got on board as an investor and board member. In 2022, the brand snagged another $100 million, led by HumanCo and Manna Tree. Today, they have 45 locations and are expanding.
For all puppy fans, Lazy Dog is for you. Locally sourced, seasonal ingredients are carefully selected and served in a space that lets you bring your best furry friend to dine with you on the patio. Dogs even have their own menu. They also promote their Lazy Dog retail shop and happy hour. The first Lazy Dog appeared in Huntington Beach in 2003. Today, they have about 50 locations around the country.
Well, it’s clear that 2024 is going to be an interesting year. As a strategic partner with leading restaurant and entertainment concepts, our team at EMERGING is excited to be a part of what lies ahead.