Is your drink menu full of only standard options and written in at the bottom of your menu corner? If so, you may want to consider adding in coffee, or a few coffee options, to join the growing market of restaurants that feature coffee as an all-day option and has a growing customer base of people stopping in to get a drink and a snack or to do some work at your tables.
A sort of Starbucks phenomenon is taking place in a wide variety of restaurants. Consumers aren’t always looking for a full sit-down meal or even a meal through the drive-thru window. A lot of the time, especially if your restaurant offers free Wi-Fi or Wi-Fi with purchase, what customers really want as a place to sit down with or swing by for a hot coffee, a cold coffee, or any sort of the numerous customizable drinks that have become increasingly popular. While coffee is still predominantly associated with breakfast and business offices, it is increasingly a universal drink that can draw in a crowd — especially if you offer novelty, convenience, or both. Customers are looking for hot coffee for their commute, a cold drink for the afternoon, or sometimes even a late-night pick-me-up for when office hours or studying stretch out. Being the local restaurant or the reliable franchise that offers what your customers are looking for consistently can go a long way to not only retaining customer loyalty but bringing in customers looking for a snack or a quick meal, too.
It used to be that drinks accompany a meal. But with new trends, new consumer behavior, and increasing numbers of people working on the go, it’s turning out that everything else may be accompanying the drink. If you are looking to expand or want to further capitalize on this market of busy coffee drinkers, our consultants at TRG can help you devise new business strategies, start an operational analysis, and see where your business can grow now and in the future. Please contact us at TRG Restaurant Consulting if you have any questions or want to talk to a consultant.
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
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 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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
You can see it coming, and you can feel its gradual approach. Days get longer and the somatic sensations of warmer days begin to influence our choice for a lighter wardrobe to accommodate the activities of the warmest period of the year affectionately called the summer season – compliments of the yearly summer solstice.
Promoting economic expansion in the United States through E2 and EB 5 makes it easier for immigrants to achieve success in America. Breakthrough legislation created this immigrant investor program in 1990 to create jobs and to stimulate the American economy.
Giving selflessly to charity has long been considered the hallmark of a beneficent character. And many restaurateurs, quite admirably, do it because it is the right thing to do without being aware of the associated financial rewards. The tax code provides restaurateurs some degree of tax relief that is available to businesses in general that give back to their communities, but few of them are aware of the most recent legislation that aims specifically at rewarding restaurateur for their charitable giving, a fact that has not gone unnoticed by restaurant CPAs, the contemporary restaurant consultant, and other restaurant advisors.
Let’s face it. When it comes to restaurant operations, in order to insure optimal success, restaurateurs must go beyond the typical physical amenities such as, menu design, kitchen and bar design, and the fine wine or craft beer list that will ultimately be offered in conjunction with your other dining complements. But just as important as the physical aspects of designing a new restaurant with artistic flair, an important element of restaurant management that must not be ignored is the marketing mix of your budding food enterprise.
Regardless of the vast differences among the various industries in the U.S., be it restaurant design, technology innovation, new car models, or the latest fashion trends, the one thing that appears to be invariably constant year after year is change itself, especially when it comes to consumer choice and preference. But when it comes to restaurant industry trends, consumers are progressively uniting restaurants and dining to their personal beliefs and inclinations about where or how they choose to dine. This has led to the most reasonable corollary action currently facing restaurant management and executive chefs when it comes to restaurant menu design and restaurant consulting.
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:
How does the 2014 IRS Rev. Ruling 2012-18 affect restaurant service staff and restauranteurs?
2014 has brought many changes to the restaurant industry and one of the most buzzed about topics is Rev. Ruling 2012-18 according to news channel WFAA. This ruling implies that restauranteurs must differentiate between automatic gratuities and voluntary tips which can ultimately cost restaurants big bucks. Any sort of gratuity that compels patrons to automatically pay an additional percentage on their meals and services is no longer considered a tip and must be calculated as part of a server’s wages.