Seven Trends In Restaurants For 2015
Restaurants do more than feed us. Restaurants make our lives easier. They connect us with friends, family and co-workers. They introduce us to an ever-increasing variety of meal options.
Restaurants excite us with new trends and keep us coming back for more.
As competition in the restaurant industry heats up in 2015, it’s important for restaurants to incorporate new trends into their business model. These new trends help restaurants retain customers while encouraging new ones.
According to Nation’s Restaurant News, the restaurant industry is poised for higher sales and profits in 2015. In order to help you increase your sales, we’ve researched the upcoming trends in restaurants and chosen seven that we think most interesting.
Let’s discuss these seven exciting trends for restaurants for 2015. Try one or try them all, and you’ll find they can be the catalyst for an increase in your profits.
Trend #1: Guest Facing Technology
The biggest trend for 2015 is turning the way customers do business with restaurants upside down. Often called front-facing technology or guest-facing technology, this new trend allows businesses to interact directly with their diners through different electronic devices and programs.
As restaurants experiment with tablets and smartphones, diners are now able to:
- Order food and drink right from their tables or online before they even get to the restaurant
- Play games while they’re waiting – a plus for families
- Pay with their smartphones
- Be notified when their order is ready, and meet the waiter at the table
- See wine lists on apps
Technology allows tables to turn faster by eliminating customer downtime. Technology also cuts down on employee errors while involving the guests directly in their ordering and check out. This trend also has the potential to decrease labor costs thus increasing profit margins. (tweet this)
Who is driving this new trend? Millennials. Their “I want what I want when I want it,” mantra dictates the need for new technology options. This large growing group of our population wants immediate gratification, and they want to customize the way they get it.
Front facing technology enables diners to pay for orders electronically and avoid waiting in line. They can be in and out of a restaurant in less than 15 minutes. For full-service restaurants, the trend is tabletop ordering and payment screens.
On the horizon? ApplePay and other electronic wallets offer a huge potential for markets as do personal smartphones for ordering and payment. Front facing technology will continue to grow as we move further into 2015.
Trend #2: Pre-Paying for Dinner
This is an interesting and intriguing trend in restaurants. We already know millennials don’t want to wait for much of anything. So, enter the ability to make a restaurant reservation the way you’d buy tickets from an airline.
These pre-paid reservations are usually non-refundable as the restaurant is getting paid before dinner. This has the capability to increase your cash flow by providing you a guaranteed table of diners. Some restaurants are also investigating ways to sell pre-packaged dinners with pre-paid reservations.
Trend #3: Tipping the Scales
The no-tipping movement is gaining big momentum. Some restaurants in San Francisco have already done away with elective tipping in lieu of a 20% automatic service charge.
Why the move towards no-tipping? Spurred on by an increased cost of living and the minimum wage debate, restaurants are struggling to maintain a quality work force with tipped front and un-tipped back staff. This inequality is becoming a moral issue in America’s restaurants.
Consider the dinner pre-pay as mentioned above in trend #2 – restaurants could add a service charge (usually 20%) to the cost of the reservation thus taking the guess-work out of tipping. This makes things easier for the guest and the service staff.
Additionally, paying state and federal taxes isn’t easy when accounting for tips, benefits and meals. This is prompting more restaurants to move to an hourly wage. Currently, most no-tipping restaurants are upscale, but we expect the trend to trickle down.
Trend #4: Hot New Menu Items
What will we be eating as we move through this year? While there are many new foods on the horizon in 2015, we picked a few standouts that are common to many of the food trend and chef’s lists.
- Taco Mania: Mexican food began sweeping the country in 2014, and as we move into 2015, traditional tacos are taking center stage. Many chefs are incorporating tacos into their own special versions of “street food.” Look for unique versions of tacos using traditional and non-traditional meat, seafood and vegetarian options such as pineapple and cilantro.
- Hummus, the New Salsa: Greek Yogurt topped many lists in 2014. This year, hummus is top of the list when it comes to dips, spreads or condiments. Traditionally a Middle Eastern dip, hummus has been Americanized. The humble chick pea is now decorated with unconventional items such as pumpkin, lamb, chili, artichokes, cilantro, white beans and much more.
- Scrambled Eggs and Savory Pancakes: Forget fancy eggs. The egg for 2015 is scrambled and served for dinner while the pancake may be laced with ricotta or even beef.
- Pickles: Consider this the restaurant version of Throw Back Thursday. Look for millennial preparation methods such as pickling and fermenting. The trendiest pickles will be house-made with specialty vinegars and spices.
- Soft Serve Ice Cream: This “new” dessert will feature seasonal flavors and innovative combinations such as caramel, toffee and salt and other unique toppings.
Trend #5: Liquor Goes Local
In 2015, taking center stage on the liquor front is:
- Artisan, locally brewed, craft beer. Craft beer is produced in small, independent microbreweries.
- Locally produced wine and spirits showcased in a prominent place in restaurants.
- Shareable punches – these are large “punch bowls” filled with anything from Sangria to seasonal punches sold by the bowl for large groups of people.
- Herbal liqueurs – these fancy drinks include flowers, spices, citrus peels, herbs and tree barks.
- Locally distilled whiskey – in 2015 whiskey surpasses vodka.
Trend #6: Fast, Classy Casual
Fast, casual, healthy and delicious dining is taking over. Millennials demand mouthwatering food that is fast and not too expensive. This leads to the trend of higher-end fast casual restaurants. Also leading to this new trend is the incredible shrinking lunch hour as workers need to eat quickly, but they also want to eat well.
The slang for this type of restaurant is “fastcas.” These fastcas restaurants offer unique menus such as veggie-focused, all natural, sushi, hand-made noodles, all-natural beef burgers, specialty pick-your-own pizza and many more.
While fine dining isn’t ending, chefs and restaurateurs are re-thinking the way they provide food. To meet the needs of diners, they need to deliver better tasting, responsibly sourced food quickly.
Trend #7: Seizing Sustainability
One of the hottest and always-growing restaurant trends is environmental sustainability. This is a broad category, and over the years has encompassed different strategies. Composting, recycling and donating continue to trend as they meet both sustainability and social responsibility needs.
Restaurants are also looking at ways to cut costs. Enter local farmers, farmers’ markets and restaurant gardens. Moving onto the scene in 2015 are house-made, farm-branded and artisanal items. Expect many restaurant branded, signature, home-grown and made-from-scratch items.
The new catchwords are “locally-made” and “locally-grown.” Handcrafted, fresh, local products are usually produced on a smaller scale and are healthier and often free of chemicals. Slowly replacing the trend toward organic, this new trend towards sustainability is becoming a symbol of trust and integrity.
Trends often take off in one part of the country and then begin to spread. What trends do you see in your city? Leave us a comment – we’d love to see what’s trending in your “neck of the woods.”