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  • Writer's pictureMaya

Restaurant Trends that Will Define 2021

The foodservice industry spent most of 2020 learning to adapt for COVID-19, but now they’re starting to adjust for what comes next. As customers get used to dining out again, new restaurant trends will overtake what’s currently popular and your restaurant has to be ready to change too.

restaurant trends

Here are five restaurant trends to look out for in 2021.

Restaurant Trends on the Rise

1. Prioritizing Comfort

Six-foot social distance regulations. Mask mandates. Constant sanitization and COVID-19 infections causing temporary shutdowns. Right now, safety concerns reign.

As normalcy returns, people will seek the comfort and relaxation that they haven’t felt at a restaurant for over a year. Creating a relaxed space for customers to spend time together will be a massive draw moving forward. Warm hospitality goes hand-in-hand with a comfortable seating area to get customers to de-stress and enjoy their time at your restaurant.

2. Virtual Experiences

Most likely, your target base has gotten comfortable online during this pandemic. The world went digital, so why shouldn’t your restaurant follow? Draw in online audiences with whatever your restaurant offers that nobody else can. What sets you apart from the competition? Maybe you’ll team up with famous chefs to share cooking tips with people via video chat. Offer virtual classes where your own back of house teaches a few staple recipes. This is the perfect time to put your creativity to work.

You can also expand your online services. Start a store with merchandise, gift cards, and meal kits—whatever appeals to your target audience best. New sales avenues can optimize your online presence for as long as you need to prioritize virtual services.

3. Waste Management

Food waste can account for so much of your unnecessary expenses. Although this has always been true, now that COVID-19 has changed the marketplace so thoroughly, it’s time to reassess even if you prioritized waste reduction before.

Check your sales reports for key insights into how the pandemic has affected inventory and profit. Your average order and ticket sizes have likely changed, as well as the price of ingredients and how long they last before you need to restock. Updating this information reduces unnecessary labor costs and tells you how to appropriately price your own dishes to get a good ROI. For example, you might find that seasonal menus and local ingredients better constrain prices in an unstable market.

4. Healthy Alternatives

Nutrition concerns are on the rise, as consumers expect allergy- and diet-friendly options and favor functional ingredients too. Soy and vegan choices, as well as plant-based alternatives, thrive as customers seek more vitamins, probiotics, and immune-boosting capabilities. Even drinks menus are seeing trends toward healthy options, with low-calorie alternatives, hard seltzer, and hard kombucha gaining popularity this past year.

A food’s origin story matters. People want sustainably sourced ingredients, local suppliers, and animal and workers’ rights. Stuck at home, they’ve also expanded their palates to try new foods from all over the world. Experimenting with new dishes could pay off while people are feeling adventurous.

5. Contactless Services

Social distance has necessitated touch-free services. Customers crave a safe dining experience whether they choose sit-down or delivery. From curbside pickup services to contactless payment options, touch-free solutions are growing to the point where even dine-in services have contactless alternatives now. With QR codes, guests can scan to pull up a digital menu on their smartphone where they can order can pay from their seats.

Prioritize sanitation and distance as you create new habits in accordance with the changing marketplace. Keep customers engaged and happy to order from you with contactless services. This trend is set to continue long-term so build up your digital marketing and online ordering platforms in preparation to rely on them for a while, even after we move past the pandemic.

Contactless Services

Following Restaurant Trends

Upgrade your restaurant technology so you can grow and change with the times. The best businesses run on smart Point of Sale systems.

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