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.

The Perfect Recipe For Maximizing Your Restaurant’s Potential – Operations Analysis

Operations Analysis

Operations Analysis


It takes so much more than a few outstanding recipes or a single acclaimed chef on the payroll to raise your restaurant’s visibility in the ever-growing dining-out market.  With the public being educated by cooking shows that feature some of the world’s most beloved chefs, the bar is now raised, the gauntlet thrown, for dining-out experiences.

When patrons choose your establishment to spend their hard-earned money, they now expect the best; greeted warmly upon entry, seated quickly, immaculate and spotless table settings, something to “take the edge off” while awaiting drinks and appetizers.  If customers are comfortably seated and eagerly scanning the menu, that’s great–but if the meal and FOH service don’t meet their high expectations, the rest of their visit may soon be forgotten.

While FOH is the first impression your customers have of your eatery, your BOH must run like a well-oiled machine behind the scenes.  Efficient planning, productive prep and wait staff, proper equipment and counter space are obvious needs. Is your pantry well-stocked, freezers and coolers running at peak efficiency? Does your kitchen comply with all state and local health codes?  Is your staff properly trained, in the right place at the right time, willing and able to do what is necessary to keep things moving at all times?

How does your restaurant rate? Are unoccupied tables a reason for concern?  Is your menu trending? Does your wait staff ensure repeat business or are you losing ground due to poor productivity? Word-of-mouth advertising offers the most profit and potential for increased sales, and at TRG Restaurant Consulting, we look at your business, tell you what’s working and what needs an overhaul. We tell you what people are saying and show you ways to maximize your presence in a highly competitive field.  Let us help your restaurant set the bar for high standards in your community. Contact us today for an in-depth Operations Analysis, tailored to your specific needs.

Various industry leaders take credit for the phrase, “Lead, follow, or get out-of-the-way.” Now it’s your turn.

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.

Food Trends 2017: What Stuck and What Didn’t

Food Trends 2017

Food Trends 2017

Every December, restaurant owners and goers alike wait to see what trends are predicted for the coming year. 2017 is almost over…so what stuck and what didn’t?


  • Breakfast All Day 

    – Breakfast has always been popular, but it wasn’t until McDonald’s finally succumbed to offering a breakfast menu all day that breakfast could no longer be ignored as a growing trend. From ice cream made of cereal milk and full bars, like Nighthawk Bar in Venice, CA, offering breakfast food late into the night, breakfast has never been hotter.

  • Queso

    – No longer just a Super Bowl staple, queso is breaking out of the football fan’s home kitchen and into quick service restaurants. Chipotle, desperate for a turn around in business, has added a queso & chips option to the menu to accompany its quac and salsa. Wendy’s and TGI Friday’s have both added queso-topped french fries to their menus, showing that this trend isn’t just for tortilla chips anymore.

  • Goth-Colored Food

    – While squid ink has long been used to make black pasta, black dyed foods have been showing up everywhere, from cupcakes to hamburger buns. The most popular twist on this dark 2017 trend is actually charcoal. Activated charcoal was marketed as a detox material and, as a result, it’s shown up in everything from lemonade to ice cream to lattes. Think of it as the response to this year’s other hot color trend: “unicorn”, or rainbow, food.


  • African Cuisine

    – African food was supposedly going to hit it big in 2017 but seems to have stalled out, with Filipino and other southeast Asian flavors becoming more popular in restaurant openings. Here’s hoping next year will see Africa’s rich history and myriad of flavors explode on the scene.

  • Fake Meat

    – In 2017, multiple companies brought us veggie burgers that “bleed” as if they were made of real beef and it was met with mixed reactions.  Recently, however, the FDA denied approving its ingredients and so this fake-beef burger is now, ironically, DOA.

  • Hopping on the Bandwagon – Authenticity is no longer a request in the restaurant world, it is a demand.  While demand for ethnic cuisines has never been higher, some of 2017’s biggest restaurant scandals have been in regard to restaurants and brands appropriating cultural flavors and techniques without a single chef or adviser assisting in the process. From non-Hispanic restaurateurs allegedly “stealing” tortilla techniques to France-based Yoplait attempting to enter the Greek yogurt market, the biggest lesson of 2017 may simply be to remain true to yourself.


For more information on the restaurant industry and consulting services contact TRG. We will also be releasing the upcoming Food Trends for 2018 in December.

Tips on Starting a New Restaurant

Starting a new restaurant

Starting a new restaurant

Starting any kind of business can be challenging and, in many cases, outright daunting. Restaurants are no exception. Here’s an idea of what the process will entail.


The first step in starting a new restaurant is developing a concept, which lays the groundwork for all that follows. You then need to design a plan of action. We at TRG can help you through our five-stage process:

  • Alignment — You’ll present to us your vision, as well as ideas for things like menu design, location and budget.
  • Research — We’ll compile a strategic list based on potential competition in your target market area.
  • Analysis — We’ll do a comparative analysis, pitting your restaurant against the competition.
  • Plan of Action — During a brainstorm session, we’ll create a plan of action that will include all aspects of your operation, including kitchen and bar design, menu, brand value, ideal location, and other requirements.
  • Reporting — We’ll help your restaurant achieve a smooth implementation and launch.


Here at TRG, we realize that brand is everything. It’s through branding that you convey your restaurant’s personality, paving the way for brand loyalty. We can help develop your brand and thereby create a lasting impression on your customers. TRG can provide services in such areas as graphic design and brand development.

Kitchen and Bar Design

A great kitchen design is essential for every restaurant, as it can help guarantee repeat business. Our consultants have real world experience and the know-how to help you design your kitchen and bar so you can generate repeat business. We can help you pick the perfect restaurant kitchen and bar design that both helps generate profit and reflects your brand and values. Don’t worry — we’ll guide you every step of the way.

Business Plan

A business plan is necessary to obtain funding for your operation. At TRG, we can help you craft a 20-30 pages business plan that we think could attract potential investors. Each plan, which we would deliver in both printed and digital formats, would include:

  • A mission statement.
  • A Business and Marketing Overview.
  • One- and Five-Year Sales and Profit Projections.
  • A Rough Draft of the Menu and more.

We’ll also provide you with a restaurant strategy plan, which will include 400 issues restaurant owners must address when they’re opening their business.

Feasibility Study

The next step would be a feasibility study to ensure that your concept aligns with your goal of maximum profitability. The study would include data and recommendations for such crucial elements as: local restaurant marketing potential, traffic count, possible location problems and solutions, demographics and identification of the target area, staffing potential, advertising options, direct and indirect competition, photos of the target trade area, and issues involving ingress and egress.

We can help you transform your restaurant idea into reality. For more information, please contact us.

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.


Today’s Restaurant Consumer Demands

Is Your Menu Meeting Today’s Restaurant Consumer Demands of Online Convenience, Healthy Options, and Price?

Restaurant Consumer Demands

As you analyze your business and forecast of the trends for the remainder of 2017, there are several questions that you may be asking yourself. As restaurants have a greater and greater online presence with delivery services and online ordering as well as increased concern about healthy diets and where our food comes from, knowing what market factors to focus on and what trends in your customers’ behavior to focus on can be a tricky matter. One key question is, is your menu meeting today’s consumer demand?

Some of the most important factors according to forecasted 2017 trends include robotization, the growing focus on whole food ingredients, and a balance between convenience, novelty, and price.


Customers are looking for convenience. Increasingly,  this is taking the form of app and online menus, being able to order ahead while still customizing orders, and even delivery services like GrubHub and DoorDash. Additionally, consumers frequently turn to review sites and restaurant websites to decide which restaurant to visit. It is critical to establish an online presence. At a minimum, you need a site that is mobile-friendly, easy to follow, and functional. However, you will also want to ensure that your business has online reviews, and, if it’s in your business model, is accessible to customers through those online delivery services.


Whether it’s a fad,  a temporary trend, or a long-term move towards whole foods, fresh ingredients, and healthy options, most consumers are increasingly educating themselves about nutritious options, healthy alternatives, and organic or non-GMO ingredients. This can impact your food costs as the healthiest, freshest ingredients are often the most expensive. If you focus on a market that cares about these healthier options, knowing how to plan based on an operational analysis is critical to reducing food waste and additional expenses.


Being concerned about the bill is not a new trend for 2017. But increased uncertainty has led to many middle- and lower-class customers thinking about cheaper alternatives and cooking at home when possible. Though upper-middle class and upper-class patrons are not expected to be as affected, be sure to keep in mind how price increases are noticeable and can drastically impact consumer behavior. Depending on your business model, cultivating alternatives and additional options can help keep the menu price the same while giving your customer the convenient options and customizations they crave in order to make sure your business continues to profit and grow.

The restaurant business is constantly changing and our consultants at TRG can help you react to the shifting preferences and consumer trends throughout the rest of 2017 and beyond. Please contact us at TRG Restaurant Consulting  if you’d like to learn more about how the restaurant business as a whole is evolving and what we can do to work together and make your restaurant thrive.


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!

Food Trends 2017: A Health-Conscious Perspective

Food Trends

Many of the food trends anticipated in the near future will cater to individuals who have adopted a health-conscious lifestyle, and will span the gamut from good versus bad fats to seaweed and fermented foods.


Food Trends

Good Versus Bad Fats

Whereas low-carb, Mediterranean and paleo diets became popular in 2016, many experts this year expect to see a greater emphasis on foods high in polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, such as avocado, fish and nuts.


Food Trends

Plant Proteins

Plant foods, such as high-fat avocados, will soon constitute another major food trend. They have increasingly grown in popularity, as dietitians have long touted the heart-healthy benefits of a vegetarian diet.


Food Trends


A key ingredient in Asian food for the past thousand years, seaweed is low in fat and calories, and loaded in nutrients like Vitamins A, B and C, iron, fiber, zinc and magnesium. While seaweed chips have seen a recent surge in popularity, culinary experts expect the seaweed plant to receive wider acclaim in the coming months.


Food Trends

Fermented Foods

Holistic nutritionist Kelly Boaz calls fermented foods one of the top food trends of 2017. Fermented foods have been exposed to certain bacteria and yeasts. This process of fermentation, which can alter the food’s taste, can make the food more conducive to digestion. Boaz says it may among other things help improve mental health, reduce the risk of certain cancers, and help diminish the symptoms of lactose intolerance.


Food Trends

Manufacturers Now Make Meatless Burgers Taste Like the Real Thing

That’s right. In fact, soy and veggie burgers have now become indistinguishable from hamburgers in both taste and texture. The only real difference, aside from their substance, is their nutritional value.


Food Trends


In addition, sorghum will likely gain traction in the health food market soon. Rich in fiber and protein, sorghum is present in cereals and chips, and will appear later this year in such foods as protein bars and crackers.

For more information on including health-conscious food in your menu, please contact us.

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