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.

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.

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.


Beverage Trends 2017: Coffee

Beverage Trends – Coffee

Beverage Trends Coffee

Are You Offering Fresh Coffee?

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.

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.

Menu Development – Increase Your Restaurant Revenue

Increase Your Restaurant Revenue During Off-peak Hours  Menu Development

Snacking is not just for in-between meals – Menu development for the next generation


Over the past decade, eating habits are shifting in response to a shift in the American culture and lifestyle. In 2014, Bloomberg did a study that indicated people are spending almost as much money dining out than eating at home. The possibilities for increasing profits may lie in the way people are eating today. The demand for quick, healthy snacks are on the rise among people who like to eat a few small meals a day.


Changing Menu Preferences

The Technomic 2016 Snacking Occasions Consumer Trend Report highlights the importance of snacking and reveals some opportunities for restaurants to increase market share in this space by capitalizing on the trends. The report indicates that 60 percent of consumers snack at least twice a day and 37 percent would like more restaurants to offer mini-sandwiches that they can eat as a snack or light meal. These trends had double-digit increases and suggest that restaurants may need to revise their menu development.

Some of the key takeaways of the report are diners want healthy snacks in place of, or to go with full course meals. The trend has rapidly changed as 40 percent of consumers are eating healthier foods between meals, more than they did just two years ago. According to the 37 percent of respondents, if bundled mix-and-match snacks were available, they would order them. These diners are not looking for a typical meal. Proper menu development is critical in this aspect because studies show that 49 percent prefer snacks that are different from breakfast, lunch and dinner fare. 


A Transforming Culture And Demographic

Having to conform to a hectic lifestyle, dual income parents and single parents are eating outside of the home at least once a week. Additionally, many parents want to provide healthy snacks for their children in between meals. However, the real “snackies” are the millennials. There are three defining characteristics about this group. They are budget conscious, they want healthy food and eat a few small meals a day and they prefer to eat at off-peak times. As their purchasing power increases, restaurants will have to rethink their menu development in order to capture their business.

In the Technomic 2016 Snacking Occasions Consumer Trend Report, some of the responses by millennials were not that surprising. If available, 44 percent of millennials would order snack delivery from restaurants. Additionally, 54 percent of this group prefer unique flavors and pairings in their healthy snacks.


Where The Opportunities Lie

The report also generated some interesting information that has the potential to drive more revenue and increase market share in the snack category. A restaurant consultant can help you with your menu development to capture these missed opportunities.

While 56 percent of snack purchases are planned, 44 percent of people attribute their snacking to an impulse buy. Restaurant consultants can help catch that impulsive buyer with better placement and creative menu design. Leveraging the restaurant consultant’s knowledge can also help restaurateurs take their share of the snack market. With statistics that demonstrate consumer snack buying behavior favoring 77 percent of snack purchases at retail locations and only 23 percent bought snacks at restaurants there is room for growth. Work with a restaurant consultant to develop an atmosphere that grabs some of the 72 percent of people eating their snacks at home.

Learn more about how menu development can help transform your snack business on our TRG consulting service pages.


2016 Snacking Occasions Consumer Trend Report [Technomic]

Americans spending on dining out just overtook grocery sales

Food Waste: Problem to profit through menu design

Menu Design

There are plenty of studies that will tell you that anywhere between 30 and 40 percent of the overall food supply in the U.S. ends up in landfills. According to a 2014 study, restaurant sector respondents reported approximately 84 percent of food waste was literally thrown away.

The impact on profit

The report estimates that almost 16 percent of all food waste is generated by the restaurant industry. On average, survey respondents generated 33 pounds of food waste per thousand dollars of company revenue. When you put that into dollars and cents, it adds up to a great deal of lost profit.

The restaurant industry is highly competitive and remaining profitable is the key to existence in this overcrowded marketplace. Food waste can be one of the largest hits to your bottom-line so menu design is an important consideration in determining how much food waste your business will generate.

Investigating the sources of waste

If your business is losing a considerable amount of revenue due to food waste, a restaurant consultant can offer insight into your main problem areas and help you close the gap on profit and loss. They can assist you in improving efficiency and reducing waste in areas such as purchasing, product handling, preparation and storage. Additionally, your production and services areas should be factored in as well.

Restaurant consultants recommend breaking up food waste into two categories, you will be able to see the full picture of where your food waste lies. First, consider the food you waste before it is served to the customer and secondly, consider the food that is left after consumption.

Before consumption waste

If you are wasting food before it gets to the customer, there are several matters you need to investigate. The first one is, are you purchasing too much? You are not saving money buying in bulk if you throw away products that have expired or gone bad. Begin by monitoring the items you are throwing away. Review your invoices and orders and define what you are buying too much of and analyze the vendors you are using.

Another possibility could be the way you are storing your food. Monitor your storage areas by going through your inventory and figuring out the best way for all food to stay fresh and unspoiled. Moreover, examine your food preparation methods and set up. If your prep station is not set up effectively you may be throwing food out due to prep errors.

After consumption waste

Auditing your post-consumption waste can tell you a great deal as well. For example, are people eating the whole portion? If not, reducing the plating size is an obvious choice. Also, things to take into consideration is food presentation including the wasted cardboard, styrofoam and plastic that is being used. This waste also needs to be managed to improve your profitability.

Menu design

After you have assessed your waste, you should reassess your menu design. A restaurant consultant can guide you through the process based on your waste assessment. If you need to either recreate your menu or business model from scratch or make tweaks to it, having a professional direct the process can end up increasing your profitability.

Whether you are a fast casual or full-service restaurant, changing up your menu is the key opportunity to minimize food waste. Deciding what you are serving, storing, preparing and packaging will impact your bottom line and your food waste carbon footprint.

The key to ending food waste is to reduce, reuse and recycle! Learn more about how menu design can help your restaurant reduce food waste on our TRG consulting service pages.

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