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.

Opening a restaurant? Why you should have a feasibility study before you start a new restaurant

So you want to start a restaurant? How prepared are you? Did you know that there are several aspects of opening a restaurant that need consideration for success? Location, competition, management and staff, and market statistics are just a few of the areas that can make or break a new restaurant.

Opening a restaurant - you need a Feasibility Study



Location, location, location! One of the most important aspects of any successful restaurant is location. While it is important that location of the restaurant be in a busy traffic area, it is just as important that the restaurant have ample parking for customers. A busy traffic area does not always guarantee success. It is also important to look at the style of restaurant you want to open and compare it with other restaurants in the area, and how the location will affect your customer flow.


What is going to set your restaurant apart from the competition? If you are offering a similar cuisine, as other restaurants in the area, why would patrons choose your restaurant over the others? Points to consider are the number of established restaurants in the area, price points of other the restaurants, and who is the target market.

Management and Staff

A good restaurant is only as good as the staff. What is your game plan on hiring the best staff to accommodate your customers? A successful management staff works well under pressure, is able to make split-second decisions, and have the overall success of the restaurant in mind.

Market Statistics

You have the perfect location, you have reviewed the competition, you have the perfect staff in mind, now you must look at the market statistics. Why have other restaurants succeeded or failed? It is imperative that you know the demographics in the area. If you plan on opening a restaurant that mainly focuses on family style dining, then you want to look at how many families live in the area; a community of young singles would likely not support your endeavor.

TRG can help your plan for success. Contact us today, and allow our experts to help with all of your planning needs.

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.

Feasibility Studies – The Best Way to Maximize Restaurant Success

Restaurant Feasibility Study

Restaurant Feasibility Study

Starting any project or venture in the restaurant industry is a massive risk, and failure is common. Luckily, there is a way to pre-check the potential success of a new restaurant; it is called a feasibility study. As the name suggests, a feasibility study examines whether or not a project is feasible with the provided resources. Although there are many benefits to a feasibility study, the main ones are as follows:

Optimal Location

Feasibility studies examine multiple potential locations, as well as potential issues with said locations. Everything about these places is taken into account, from the demographics and foot traffic in the area to any natural or man-made barriers that could potentially affect business. For example, if one potential site is in a city center and another is on the outskirts of the same city, there will be different needs within the demographic. A feasibility study would take these demands into account and provide the best location for a specific restaurant.


When deciding whether or not to move forward with a restaurant project, considering any potential competition is crucial. A feasibility study will consider both direct competition and indirect competition. Direct competition is a company that produces a virtually identical service, while indirect competition is a company whose service could satisfy the same need. By examining both types of competition, a feasibility study can provide the most accurate picture of any potential competitors.

Staffing and Management Advice

Excellent staff can keep a restaurant running smoothly, and heighten the experience for customers. On the other hand, bad staff can quickly tank a profitable venture. A feasibility study can show the staffing potential of a project, as well as provide specific staffing and management advice for the restaurant. This helps avoid any staffing issues, as well as boosting the abilities of managers and staff.

A feasibility study will provide the best options for any new venture. If you think a feasibility study would help your project idea, feel free to contact us at TRG for more information.

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 Trends 2017

2017 Restaurant Trends

The culinary scene in 2016 was all about matcha, food trucks, and farm-to-table. As the year comes to a close, it’s time to look forward to what your clientele will be asking for in 2017 restaurant trends.


2017 Restaurant Trends

Smarter Restaurants

From guest-facing digital ordering systems to takeout platforms catering to busy individuals, many modern restaurants are turning to technology to streamline the guest’s experience. While quick-serve concepts are typically the first to adopt new technology, high-end restaurants are also incorporating technical features to their dining rooms such as tablets and smart watches to keep the restaurant staff informed and operating in real time.

In 2017 expect more than just sandwich shops to utilize digitized custom ordering methods. The trend has already begun to expand to sushi restaurants and other popular lunch and after work venues.


2017 Restaurant Trends

Fresher, greener, cleaner ingredients

So many consumers today are concerned with clean eating, the sourcing of ingredients, and impact of their food choices. When selecting a lunch spot or where to place a dinner reservation, guests are more apt to choose an establishment with a clear commitment to the environment or new clean eating trends.

The “better burger” movement is one of the more prominent examples of clean eating coming to the forefront of American dining. From BurgerFi to Elevation Burger, these businesses are placing the importance of great ingredients and thoughtful preparation far ahead of heavy branding and low price points.

For those who are turning away from meat consumption, there are countless new concepts focusing on vegan and vegetarian cuisine. Even fresh juice bars are beginning to replace truck stop style soda fountains in high income areas.

The new year will likely usher in more concepts focusing on the fresher the better with their ingredients and menu planning.


2017 Restaurant Trends

Embodying that Homemade Feeling

Whether high end or fast-casual, so many new restaurants are embracing nostalgic and inviting atmospheres. Fine dining restaurants have always been exclusive, but many dining rooms are beginning to feel like an extension of someone’s living room rather than a sea of identical two tops covered in white tablecloths.

Staplehouse, a restaurant in Atlanta has gone as far as creating a unique entrance through a residential garage door in order to make guests feel as though they’re coming over to a friend’s house.

This intimate back to basics of hospitality is not limited to interior design, many kitchens are returning to basic cooking techniques and heirloom recipes to create a transportive and comforting dining experience.


2017 Restaurant Trends

Authentic, not brand-centric

It seems gone are the days of reigning restaurant chains complete with souvenir barware and menus designed to follow some sort of theme. Many of the newest and most successful restaurants pride themselves on their simple straight-forward concepts and the transparency of their menus. New restaurateurs and chefs are embracing the idea of doing one thing and doing it better than anyone else.

Ethnic cuisine has been on the rise especially in the last few years as the industry embraces the different backgrounds that make up today’s typical consumer. Coming with this trend to explore ethnic cuisines are millennials captivated by social media and the search for authentic ethnic cooking. With a largely global economy and a well traveled customer base, restaurants offering globally inspired foods need to claim their authenticity and larger established brands touting culturally inspired fare will need to face the music and convince restaurant goers that their offerings are as good if not better than the authentic cooking of a mom and pop startup.

Other ways restaurants are circumnavigating the modern consumers’ distrust of large brand names: combining forces with popular retailers, hotels, and even automotive brands. In 2017 expect to see more established food or restaurant brands partnering with high end retailers to present innovative mixed use retail and foodservice concepts.


2017 Restaurant Trends

Eastern Flavor Invasion

The Asian tigers have influenced the consumer economy in more than just apparel, electronics, and cars. These strong economic players and their accompanying dining preferences are now beginning to impact the American restaurant industry. Their numbers are growing each day from Asian inspired fast-casual concepts to elevating Chinese, Thai, Indian, and Japanese cuisine to a starring role in high end dining rooms breaking from their former home in your takeout menu drawer.

In 2017 prepare to see more Asian as well as African flavors being incorporated into menus, grab and go snacks, and even cocktail programs.

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.

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.


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