The Restaurant Group Blog

10 Key 2018 Restaurant Trends To Look Out For [Part 2]

2018 Restaurant Trends

2018 Restaurant Trends (Part 2)

The restaurant industry is constantly evolving and changing, from marketing to delivery, to service – each segment of the industry has experienced a massive shift. This will continue throughout 2018 and for restaurants to succeed, it is important to keep an eye on what trends are emerging in 2018. Here is part 2 of 2018 Restaurant Trends:

6) Upscale casual atmospheres will be on the rise

Restaurants will need to balance upscale options with casual ambiances going forward as that trend seems to continue full-steam in 2018. While casual upscale dining might sound a little contradictory, it does not need to be.

Restaurants should focus on striking a balance between premium ingredients and offerings while retaining a level of casualness in terms of the restaurant atmosphere itself to provide customers that experience. This could extend to keeping bookings and reservations somewhat casual and allowing for more walk-ins, or with its decor and music choices.

7) Greater focus on aesthetics

In a world driven by social media marketing, restaurants must absolutely focus on the aesthetic value of their food. While that does not mean that quality or innovation needs to take a backseat, but there must be a greater emphasis on presentation and looks of the dishes themselves.

With more users embracing visual platforms such as Instagram to document their experiences, restaurants must consider how to incorporate that into the overall dining for customers.

8) Healthy options for children

With so much focus on the millennial market, many restaurants have overlooked how to make their dining healthier for adults and children. That demographic holds a significant market share, so it is crucial that they are not left ignored.

With the increased importance of healthy food and diet, restaurants should also look for ways to provide children with healthier and creative food options. Parents will appreciate the effort, and that will go a long way in building long-term loyalty.

9) Local wine, beer and alcohol pairings

Alcohol is an important part of menus and many customers enjoy having a local feel with both their dishes and the alcohol they choose to pair it with. For 2018, restaurants should research and look for local options to provide this part of the experience and really innovate on how to showcase the best of what the area has to offer.

Whether it is partnering with local distilleries, wineries or breweries for long-term menu inclusion or even designing pop-up events to showcase local alcohol with food pairings, there are many ways to get creative with this.

10) Greater inclusion for those with dietary restrictions

Many restaurants have dragged their feet when it comes to updating menus to accommodate different dietary restrictions. However, many customers are increasingly choosing to go vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free – just to name a few and that means restaurants must adapt accordingly.

Consider taking a look at menus that have not been updated for a while to see where these options could be fit with existing options. Or consider adding new dishes that will be appealing to this new set of customers and how you can create a great experience for them where other restaurants may not be able to.


Contact TRG for your restaurant consulting needs.

10 Key 2018 Restaurant Trends To Look Out For [Part 1]

 2018 Restaurant Trends

2018 Restaurant Trends (Part 1)

The restaurant industry is undergoing a constant wave of change, especially with the evolution of digital technology. From marketing to delivery, to service – each segment of the industry has experienced a massive shift.

This will continue in 2018 and for restaurants to succeed in the new year, it is vital to keep an eye on what trends are beginning to emerge for 2018 and strategize on the best ways to leverage these for individual success. Here are just a few that are sure to dominate 2018:

1) A major focus on sustainability

One major aspect of the business that restaurants must focus on in 2018 is sustainability. Whether it is zero-waste cooking or improved efforts to recycle and reduce waste – sustainability must be at the heart of it.

Not only is it necessary from an environmental point of view, but it is something that greatly resonates with consumers and can be incorporated into the restaurant experience as a whole.

Savvy foodies enjoy knowing that the food they are consuming is created under ethical and sustainable standards and this can be a major force in marketing and advertising as well for restaurants themselves.

2) Constant innovation

The truth is, digital media has contributed to setting much higher standards when it comes to food, presentation and menu innovation among consumers. Customers want menus that have a global feel, a range of diversity and the knowledge that the restaurant itself is dedicated to innovating the food experience.

For some, this might mean incorporating more exotic and different ingredients (this could include grains, powders, and ashes – just to name a few). Or it might mean rethinking menu staples to offer a fresh twist on classic items.

3) A continual embrace of technology

From an operational standpoint, it is imperative that restaurants continuously embrace technology and incorporate it as best as possible for a seamless experience. Automating key parts of the restaurant experience is one facet of this, as is using technology to really understand the core of your business.

There is now a wide availability of data that can be used to improve the consumer experience and that will become a major factor for success for restaurants. Using data and technology to really understand your customers and their preferences, and creating a customer journey accordingly will be a major trend for 2018.

4) Customizing the experience

Whether it is more choices in ingredients or creating an experience through rewards or loyalty program, customization needs to be at the heart of every operation.

Restaurantgoers are now increasingly expecting a level of personal service with their food experience, and restaurants need to able to scale their technology efficiently to deliver on this. This could start from the very beginning of the customer journey when they book their table to when they arrive, but that element of a personal touch must be there.

5) Seamless delivery integration

Speaking of personalization, customers also enjoy a new level of convenience that was not present before. Restaurants should increasingly look for methods to integrate delivery options as well in order to reach wide customer bases.

This might mean partnering with local delivery agents, or even starting with smaller steps to integrate takeaway options for customers as a starting point to see the level of demand for other options.


Contact TRG for your restaurant consulting needs.

4 Foodservice Trends To Expect in 2018

Foodservice Trends 2018

4 Foodservice Trends To Should Expect in 2018

In 2017, diners indulged in numerous restaurant trends like mediterranean dishes, plant-based menu items, and food bowls. Consumers will continue to expect variety in 2018, but they will gravitate towards a balance of healthy and extravagant.

Get a sense of what your customers will crave with the top 4 trends below:

1. Embrace the Power of Unicorns and Zombies

In April, Starbucks launched the Unicorn Frappuccino® that featured a magical combination of purple and blue colors. This concoction took the social media world by storm and caused many stores to sell out in a matter of days. In October, Starbucks took advantage of the spooky season and delivered their next creation: the Zombie Frappuccino®. This drink also led to a viral sensation on Instagram and Twitter.

How to Implement

If you own a family restaurant, think about your most special item. Then add a twist to it, and post a mouth-watering image on social media. If possible, advertise this special item in your local media outlets too.

2. Put the ‘Custom’ in ‘Customer’

Have you noticed how many restaurant chains are allowing customers to pick their own ingredients? Numerous pizza franchises are now capitalizing on the success of quick-service restaurants like Subway and Chipotle who follow this format. Diners like the idea of creating their own masterpieces, and these restaurants accommodate that craving. Additionally, picky eaters feel empowered to design a dish that meets their palette.

How to Implement

The food bowl concept was a very hot trend in 2017, and this one-stop meal will continue to satisfy hungry customers in 2018. If your restaurant offers stir-fry, let customers pick their own vegetables and sauces. The same approach also works well for soups and appetizers like cheese fries. The possibilities are endless.

3. Offer Clean-Eating

Remember when Panera vowed to switch to 100 percent clean? Their goal was to remove artificial flavors and preservatives in order to foster healthier lifestyles. Health-conscious consumers strive for whole foods versus processed menu items, and organic farming continues to grow.

How to Implement

Be very transparent on your menu. List which items are from local farmers and, if applicable, which items are organic. Ask your service staff to discuss your clean vision with new patrons as well. On your website, tell the story behind your mission. Lastly, post about your clean menu on social media to help spread the word.

4. Long Live the Mocktail

After the holidays pass, many consumers will kick off the new year with one goal in mind: trimming the excess weight. Many people may also enter detoxes, which prevent alcohol consumption. Show your customers they can keep the flavor while limiting the calories.

How to Implement

Re-create your favorite fruity cocktails with stevia and fresh fruit. Fruit concentrates tend to include a lot more sugar, and you can pack just as much flavor with fresh ingredients.

As consumer trends continue to evolve, the team at TRG helps you align with these changes. Contact us today to learn how to keep your business flourishing in 2018 and beyond.

Is Your Menu Intimidating? TRG Menu Development Can Help

TRG Menu Development

Menu Development


Have you ever sat down at a restaurant and opened up the menu only to find that your choices seem endless? Having too many options is often overwhelming. Even the most experienced Chef cannot possibly be well versed in all areas. The odds that your kitchen staff can serve world-class Sushi and BBQ up some killer ribs are slim, and your guests know this. A menu with too many items sends the message to your patrons that your establishment doesn’t excel in any one item, rather, it offers an array of mediocre items.

People like options and you should certainly give them some. Try limiting your menu to just a handful of items that your restaurant can knock out of the park. Doing this has several advantages that might surprise you. It cuts inventory costs and allows reallocation of those funds towards higher grade ingredients, thus increasing the overall quality of your product. Offering less menu choices also creates less memorization for your wait staff; decreasing the odds of mistakes which results in happy customers. Perhaps the most positive change is that this will brand your restaurant. You will now be forever known for the amazing niche items prepared unique to your restaurant. This will attract the people whom are truly interested in what you have to offer, and likely result in a positive reputation amongst your community. Another positive is that you can bump of the price of your dishes with confidence, generating more profit. Remember this: less is more.

The menu is the first encounter a guest has with a restaurant. Contact TRG Restaurant Consulting, to learn more about our menu development services and how we can help to ensure that all the dishes on your menu not only stand out for their own merits, but also work together to form a cohesive whole.



Hurricane Irma devastated Florida leaving over 6 million people out of their homes, and now its time to start the clean up process.

Hurricane Irma Harvey Restaurant Support

In the wake of Hurricanes Irma and Harvey, we’re supporting restaurant and hospitality businesses affected by the storms.

TRG is standing by you and with you, ready to help in any way we can. Have equipment that was damaged and needs to be replaced? We can help with that. Need to rebuild, we can help with that, too. Whatever you need, we’re here to roll up our sleeves and help you move forward.

TRG is now offering Hurricane Relief Assistance discounts on all services and equipment to those in affected areas. Proceeds from now till November 1st, 2017 will go to the American Red Cross, Save the Children, Humane Society and/or local food banks to support rescue and recovery efforts.


If you’re looking for a way to help with the relief efforts, there are several charities always looking for volunteers and donations. See how you can make a difference today.

A great way for you to help is by visiting Red Cross Relief Fund for Hurricane Irma and Harvey for a quick easy cash donation, simply select ‘Harvey’ or ‘Irma’ when you donate.

Click below for more ways to help.

Of course with the closure of blood banks, there may be a shortage of blood. You can also contact the Red Cross to make an appointment to donate blood.

Use Customer Tracking to Keep Up with Local Consumer Trends

Customer Tracking

You’ve opened your restaurant, eagerly awaiting the first trickle of customers to start streaming in. They start showing up, singly, in pairs, or in large groups, and they seem happy with the experience. But when they leave, you may never see them again. If you aren’t keeping track of your new customers, you could be missing a serious cog in the revenue-making machine.

Customer Tracking Helps You Understand Your Consumers

Gone are the days of consumer complacency. These days, your customers want the best you have to offer. But offering the best isn’t as simple as it sounds – what exactly is “the best”? How can you improve the restaurant experience? What kind of customers like to frequent your place, anyway? Keeping track of your customers, through loyalty programs, social media, or even simple feedback cards, provides an invaluable understanding of your consumers.

Customer Tracking Heads off Dissatisfaction

When you know what your customers want, you are less likely to receive complaints. And when you have good feedback mechanisms in place, such as a Facebook page and even an email address where they can directly reach you, you are more likely to appease unhappy customers before they leave negative feedback and for a locally owned restaurant, negative feedback can mean the virtual death of your online reputation.

Customer Tracking Reminds Hungry Consumers That You’re Open

Customer tracking is a two-way street; it allows your customers to interact with you, and it allow you to reach out to them. Simply asking for customers’ email addresses can allow you to periodically send them alerts when you have a new menu item, a special is going on, or hours of operation are changing. Send these emails out at just the right times and to just the right customers – think late Friday afternoon for families, and Monday at happy hour for college students and you will begin to see an increase in the amount of repeat business at your restaurant.

Without Customer Tracking, You Can Only Rely on Chance

Customer tracking gives you the boost your restaurant needs to thrive. Without it, you are an island floating in the ocean of chance, just waiting to see what the next wave will bring. Get personal with your customers, and they will have a reason to keep coming back to your place of business.


For assistance with your restaurant contact a TRG Restaurant Consultant.

Restaurant Consumer Trends 2017 Mid Year Review

Restaurant Consumer Trends 2017 Mid Year Review

Restaurant Consumer Trends 2017

Now that we’re halfway done with 2017, it’s time to take a look both backward and forward at trends dominating the restaurant industry. Here’s what we’ve noticed is both hot and not in 2017:

Comfort food revival is more important than ever. Consumers are highly interested in modern takes on classic fare. More people are getting back to the “roots” of traditional-style foods, but this doesn’t mean they want Mom’s boring old meatloaf! Farm-to-table is also playing heavily into the equation as today’s consumer is more conscious about their food sources than ever before.

The attention span of your customers is getting shorter than ever. All restaurants want to reach out to their consumers, but your time may be counted in milliseconds rather than actual seconds these days. Rather than relying on email marketing, which is likely to be sent to a spam folder, consider switching customer engagement to text-based communication.

Paying attention to calorie counts is big. More customers than ever are paying attention to calorie counts, and since May 2017 there have been rules requiring that restaurants disclose these counts. Customers are paying attention to these and many do make purchasing decisions based upon estimated caloric daily intake. So make sure that you tell the chefs to not go heavy on the oil!

Healthy kid’s menus. Along with healthier eating for Mom and Dad, healthier eating for Junior is in as well. You’re finding this evidenced in everything from apple slices instead of fries and oranges on the kids’ dessert menu. Just like parents are paying attention to their waistlines, they’re also keeping an eye on their kids’.

Keeping on top of restaurant consumer trends like these is vital to our industry. We like to stay on top of it all – and so should you!

Restaurant Renovation Pt 1: Are You Ready for a Face Lift?


Established business owners sometimes feel that updating or renovating their restaurant space is an unnecessary expense. After all, if it’s not broken, why fix it? However, you could be losing business if it has been more than five or six years since you’ve changed up the customer experience at your restaurant. If you think you may be ready to give your space a face lift, ask yourself these four questions.

Does My Dining Area Speak to the Right Crowd?

While you may have no trouble getting repeat business from the Baby Boomers who have had their morning coffee at your place for the past twenty years, your restaurant could have a lot more potential than that. Do Gen Y and Millennials visit often? Or do you have a space that is family-oriented? If your dining area is no longer a good fit for the customers you are hoping to attract, it’s time to make some changes.

Are My Competitors Making Changes?

You can’t base all your business decisions on what the competition is doing, but if several restaurants in your area have updated their space, it’s probably time for you to do the same. After all, you don’t want your clients heading over to the burger joint down the street simply because it looks newer.

Is There Enough Space?

In just about every industry, minimalism is becoming more popular, requiring more spacious areas with fewer things in them. In other words, people expect to have more room. Elbow-to-elbow cafes and crowded diners are just not viable restaurant spaces anymore.

Do I Like Coming to Work?

You got into the restaurant business for a reason — because you love serving food to people who love to eat it, right? But if it feels like a drag to step into your restaurant, a renovation could give you the boost you need to love what you do again. They do say that a change is as good as a rest.

At TRG Restaurant Consulting, we are passionate about helping restaurant owners create an experience that they and their customers will love. Stay tuned for Part 2, where you can find out how to create the restaurant space of your dreams.

Today’s Restaurant Industry

Today’s Restaurant Industry

Ingredient, design, and culinary trends are not new to the restaurant industry, but with today’s rapidly evolving tastes and diners who are quick to share their experiences, chefs and restaurant owners need to be steadily aware of new trends coming into play.

Here are the current movements shaking up today’s restaurant industry:


The Right Angle

Today’s Restaurant Industry

Heads up, way up. When it comes to restaurant decor in 2016, so many designers are taking advantage of vertical space and adding interest with the use of hard 45 degree and 90 degree angles. These lines combined with the softness of wood paneling often made from reclaimed materials not only make a space inviting, but also speaks to a restaurant’s eco-friendly commitment.

Tall spaces are not the only ones getting the natural treatment, many interior designers are also bringing in tropical plants and wallpaper with natural textures or patterns to create a warm atmosphere.


Thoughtful Menu Planning & Ingredient Sourcing

Today’s Restaurant Industry

Today we are serving some the best informed diners we have ever served in the restaurant industry. That being said, menu planners cannot simply tout a locally sourced menu and not expect to be held to certain standards of sustainability and support of their local food industry. Likely the hottest topic within the realm of ingredient sourcing is the use of locally raised meat, dairy, seafood, and produce. Some of the most successful restaurants embracing this trend have built extremely strong relationships with local growers, ranchers, and fisherman and are very transparent about the origin of every single item on their menu.

Other ways restaurants are adding interest to their menus without sacrificing local ingredients: housemade ice cream, root-to-stem cooking, artisan butchery, house-made pickles, back-to-basics cooking, and curing meats in-house.


The Technology of Convenience

Today’s Restaurant Industry

It may be driven by millennials, but food convenience paired with delivery services such as Grub Hub, Ubereats, and Postmates represents one of the fastest growing areas in the foodservice industry. Many young professionals and working parents are the major supporters of these services because they bring well prepared, often nutritious, and fast meals to their doorstep with just a few quick swipes on their smartphone. Settling for rock hard pizza that takes an hour to arrive or waiting for a table with a gaggle of hungry toddlers just isn’t relevant anymore.

Other players in the food convenience arena include food trucks, dinner-in-a-box subscription services, and affordable chef-driven fast-casual restaurant concepts.


Working with Dietary Restrictions

Today’s Restaurant Industry

So many chefs and servers dread the question “What do you have that’s gluten-free?”

While it is true that the public’s concern for dietary restrictions has increased over the years, what is starting to change are restaurants’ approach to gluten free, paleo, vegan, and vegetarian dining. So many establishments are confronting the question head on and designing menus and even entire restaurant concepts that address and embrace these different eating patterns.

Some of the most popular trends from 2016 are: offering selections of raw or uncooked vegetable dishes, replacing pasta and white rice for ancient grains, healthy alternatives for kid’s meals, vegetable-centric menus, and milk substitutes made from cashews, hazelnuts, and oats.


Seasoned Seasoning

Today’s Restaurant Industry

Restaurants are big on flavor. With all the dietary restrictions circling around and a large demand for unique flavors, so many chefs are turning to spices for more than just heat. Spices, especially ethnically inspired or craft blended, are an ideal way to incorporate new and bold flavors into a dish without the use of animal fat, or excess salt and sugar. One of the more unique trends of 2016 are restaurants developing their own blend of spices to use in various dishes.

While ethnically derived spice blends are heating up in the kitchens, more and more customers are also asking for condiments that in the past have only been found at grocery stores in neighborhoods like K-town or Little Havana. From hot sauces to savory vinegars, expect to see a more eclectic assortment of condiments available at your table.


True Ethnic Cuisine

Today’s Restaurant Industry

Along with the never ending search for new flavors comes the quest for your area’s most authentic (insert country’s name here) cuisine. Today’s diners are very interested in trying authentic cuisines without the need for a passport. This trend can be seen with the fleets of food trucks hitting city streets and also in some of the nicest dining rooms around the country.

Vietnamese cuisine, new-Jewish cuisine, homemade Japanese rice balls, and new interest in African cuisine and ingredients have been some of this year’s most apparent trends in ethnic cooking.


Waste Not

Today’s Restaurant Industry

Lastly, it’s hard to talk about food whether it’s in the foodservice industry or home consumption without touching upon the topic of food waste. Not only has it been a big conversation leader in 2016, it has also turned into a big winner for business plans in the restaurant industry. Many restaurants cite their commitment to food waste reduction on their menus and equally as many are partaking in the food donation services that are springing up across the United States.

Other popular steps toward reducing food waste include: seasonal farm-to-table menus, smaller portion sizes at smaller price points, and a commitment to nose-to-tail and root-to-stem cooking.


2016 Beverage Trend Review

2016 beverage trends

We’re crazy about all things restaurants here at TRG. Forecasting trends, real time analysis, and review and reporting are our bread and butter as restaurant consultants. With the end of 2016 fast approaching, it’s time to take a look at some of the biggest 2016 beverage trends. No surprise, locally sourced ingredients tops the list (as we’re sure they will continue to), while thoughtfully composed mocktails have been a hit, and renewed fanaticism in Tiki has been a win on both sides of the bar. Read on to check out our full list of 2016 Beverage trends.


2016 beverage trends artisanal cocktails

Local and Artisanal Ingredients

The beverage world of 2016 has seen a continued move away from complicated ingredients, preparations, and presentations. Master mixologists with their overdone drinks are out, while fresh, simple, and local ingredients are in. Aside from local breweries and wineries, the likes of small batch tonic, ginger beer, and liqueurs have now made it to the big stage, and we couldn’t be happier about it.


2016 beverage trends cocktails


Long gone are the days of virgin daiquiris and margaritas as the only non-alcoholic cocktails options. Mocktails today are being crafted with equal attention to detail and composition as their boozy counterparts, utilizing savory elements such as herbs, as well as more premium ingredients like non-alcoholic falernum.


2016 beverage trends tiki cocktails


Perhaps in attempt to pay homage to the cocktail kings and queens who paved the way,  bartenders today have gone tiki-crazy. A quick glance at the high end cocktail bars of San Francisco, Chicago, New York, and Boston show rifts on tiki-classics from the likes of Don the Beachcomber and Trader Vic. With approachable flavors and ingredients, historical relevance, and eye catching presentations, Tiki drinks are a beverage trend here to stay.


2016 beverage trends OAC rum


Forget the spiced Captain Morgan handle you used to swig in college and make room for the new era of rums. A neutral spirit capable of many forms and expressions, today’s rums are on a broad spectrum with everything from Jamaican rum to Demerara rum and  AOC-protected rhum agricole. Complex and versatile, the past year has seen this once-forgotten spirit back in action.


2016 beverage trends draft cocktail

Draft Cocktails

Imagine being able to turn out a whole sleuth of good drinks – fast. Welcome to the world of Draft Cocktails. Bartenders prep and batch drinks prior to service so that a pull on the draft handle is all you need for a perfected composted cocktail. The advantages here are many, speed and efficiency topping the list, but be sure to keep an eye on things like proper scaling, dilution, and clean tap lines.


2016 beverage trends lower abv drinks

Lower ABV Drinks

Two martini lunches a la Don Draper are a thing of the past. Guests now are happy to enjoy sake, sherry, vermouth, and wine based cocktails and still be able to drive home. These are great bridges for non-cocktail drinkers, and a valuable tool for restaurants without a full alcohol license.

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