The Restaurant Group Blog

2016 Restaurant Menu Trends

 2016 Restaurant Menu Trends

2016 Restaurant Menu Trends

The restaurant industry is constantly changing. In the competitive world of food service, it’s important to stay well ahead of the year’s industry trends. Menu design for sustainability, interesting new flavors, and convenience are becoming more important to your customers this year. In order to help you stay on trend, we’re bringing you the top 10 restaurant trends for 2016.

 

Locally Sourced Meat and Seafood

Your customers are becoming more and more concerned about where their food comes from. Not only do they want the freshest ingredients, they also want to lower their impact on the environment by making the best choices when it comes to food.

 

Hyper-Local Food

In addition to local meats, customers want to see more local produce on the menu. For many diners, the closer the better when it comes to fruits and vegetables.

 

Fast Casual

Busy diners are flocking to fast casual restaurants, but speed isn’t their only concern. These customers want quality as well as speed, making chef-driven fast casual restaurants a major contender in the foodservice industry for 2016.

 

Convenience

Services such as Amazon and Uber are paving the way for convenience for today’s consumers. Restaurants should tap into this trend by making their food as easy as buying a new book on Amazon or catching a ride with Uber.

 

Clean Menus

Health concerns may cause diners to cook at home rather than dine out, but if your restaurant offers plenty of healthy options you can keep customers coming through the door. A well designed menu can keep your customers coming back for more great, healthy options.

 

Healthier Kids Options

Typical kids’ menus may offer items such as chicken nuggets or macaroni and cheese for picky eaters, but parents are starting to expect more creative and healthier options for their children. This year, you need to think out of the box when it comes to feeding younger guests.

 

Sustainability

Along with locally sourced food, diners want to know that their dinner comes from sustainable sources, especially when it comes to seafood. A well designed menu featuring locally sourced meat, seafood, and produce will attract diners looking to enjoy a great, ethical meal.

 

Spice It Up

Customers aren’t just looking for restaurants to turn up the heat, they are also craving more variety in seasonings and flavors. Fusion options are a great way to add new flavors to your current menu while staying true to your restaurant’s vision.

 

Comfort Foods

Although your customers may be looking for more healthy options in 2016, they also want a good opportunity to indulge in their favorite comfort foods like southern fried chicken and artisan ice cream pairings. A well balanced menu will allow diners to get the best of both worlds, offering comfort food indulgences and healthier options.

 

Food Trucks

Diners are flocking to food trucks that offer convenience and new twists on old classics such as fusion tacos and dessert sandwiches. These roaming restaurants are a great way to extend your business by offering your most popular dishes at events and near office buildings during lunchtime.

 

Staying current with new restaurant trends is essential to competing in the foodservice industry. If you’re ready to jump on one of these trends or take a new direction with your restaurant, contact TRG Restaurant Consulting. Our experienced consultants can help you design the best menu to keep your diners coming back for more.

How Restaurants Can Appeal to Millennials

Restaurants Millennial-01

Millennials are the rising tide of the economy. This demographic, which ranges in age from 18 to 33 make up about one-fourth of the US population and spend approximately $1.3 trillion annually. Many marketers are vying for the attention of this group and for restaurateurs capturing their business is essential as millennials eat out more than any other generational demographic.

Who is the Millennial?

So what is the millennial looking for in a dining experience? To understand how to serve this customer you must understand what the millennial is looking for in a restaurant. There are key characteristics of this demographic that make them more unique than other generations. These customers value the relationship they have with the brand and they have particular needs to meet their lifestyle.

A taste for fast casual

The industry has expended a great deal of resources trying to understand this misunderstood generation. Recent studies indicate that while the restaurant chains fluctuate, categories are consistent; casual dining and fast casual industry establishments. Some of the notable chains in the casual category include Olive Garden, Applebee’s and Chili’s. In the fast casual sector, millennials embrace chains like Chipotle, Panera Bread and Pei Wei Asian Diner. Additionally, fast food franchises such as Subway, Jimmy John’s and Jersey Mikes.

Health Conscious with Customization

The millennial wants fresh, healthy and artisan food. They may occasionally eat at McDonalds, but they consider most fast food as unhealthy. For the millennial, fresh food is healthy food and choice of having it their way is important. As a result, according to a recent Nielsen study, millennials are 74 percent more likely than average to visit Chipotle. The same study indicated that when it comes to fast food, the chain of choice is Subway because it is fresh and inexpensive. The study also concluded that 73% of millennials said they planned to eat at Subway again.

Socially Conscious

In the case of the millennial and brand relationship, the reciprocity principle applies in two areas. This generation is socially aware and they want to patronize companies who give back to the community and to their customers.

Companies such as Panera Bread and Chipotle have programs that donate heavily to good causes. Panera with its Panera Cares® community cafes provides meals to those who can’t afford it. Through this program, the company also partners with other non-profits to offer job training.

The Chipotle Cultivate Foundation donates over a million dollars to non-profits that promote everything from food literacy to improving farming. Some of the organizations receiving money include International Rescue Committee’s New Roots Program, The Kitchen Community the Ecology Center in Orange County. 

Social Media Conscious

The second part of the reciprocity principle applies to social media and brand feedback. Millennials, who are foodies will post their opinions online, with pictures. If the experience is good, you can expect them to sing your praises; a bad experience will be posted as well. As many restauranteurs have learned, Yelp can either boost your business or kill it. The by the Pew Research Center reported that 87 percent of online adults in the US aged 18 to 29 use social media sites. So you can expect that they turn to their friends on social media for recommendations on where to eat.

Technologically Conscious

It goes without saying that the millennial is the most tech-savvy of all generations. According to Nielsen, more than 85 percent of millennials in the US own smartphones. Millennial need to connect to restaurants via their smartphone to make a reservation, place a takeout order or find a promotion or pay online. Additionally, free Wi-Fi for this group is a necessity, not a luxury.

Beside the characteristics listed above, it is also noteworthy to mention, millennials expect value because they can and do use technology to find the best deal. Moreover, these busy people eat on their time schedule. They seek breakfast at lunchtime and enjoy late night dining.

Restaurant chains of all sizes and types are catering to this foodie generation who is the largest group of people who dine out regularly. It is critical to the food industry to understand and embrace this demographic like never before in order to be successful entrepreneurs.

Sources: Nielsen, bcg.perspectives, Food, Drink and Franchise, Pew Research Center

The Clean Eating Movement

Clean Eating
TRG Restaurant Consulting

Clean Eating Movement: Chipotle and Panera go head to head.

The Clean Eating Movement has been gaining steam for a few years now, and while it has its base back in the 1960’s, it has gained considerable steam in the United States. Consumers want to be more informed about their food choices.  Movements such as the Paleo diet, non-GMO (genetically modified organism) and eat local have begun to influence choices offered by restaurants.

The Rise of Fast Casual

Fast Casual - Restaurant Consulting

Restaurant Industry Trends – Fast Casual

It seemed as though the dominance of the fast food market segment would be forever enduring. This segment still dominates, but in terms of growth rate, the fast casual segment has been gradually eroding the fast-food market share, with McDonald’s, the leader of the fast food market chains, controlling about 20% of that market, with an average growth rate of around 2%. Alternatively, Chipotle Mexican Grill, the leader and pioneer of fast casual, has grown at a consistent 20% rate for the last seven years[1].

Panera, Chipotle and Starbucks Investment in Customer Demand

With new technology and capabilities being released on a daily basis, the consumer’s demand for the next new and exciting product or service is higher than ever. There is no exception when it comes to restaurants either. The top contenders in the restaurant industry have to stay on their toes and be ready to implement changes into their menus, services, etc. at a moment’s notice. Here are some innovative approaches and services from industry leaders that are changing the restaurant game:

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