You never want your restaurant to be stuck in a rut while customers move on to the next new concept, but chasing trends can be a financial drain when they fall flat. Here are 5 well-established trends that are not only here to stay, but could also make your restaurant a local favorite while increasing profits:
Food Waste Reduction
According to the National Restaurant Association, chefs are finding new ways to cut back-of-house costs by serving smaller tapas-style plates, repurposing food that would likely be trashed. “Next Iron Chef” runner-up Jehangir Mehta has cut his produce bill by 50% by buying imperfect produce and sources used coffee grounds locally to make coffee ice cream.
Locally Sourced Meat and Produce
Serving up fresh, locally-sourced food has hit the mainstream and is only growing in popularity. More customers want to know where their food is coming from and how it is produced and you get the added benefit of being able to promote your environmentally-friendly support of the local community.
If you haven’t caught on yet, customers are returning to restaurants that share their values. Chefs have been gaining loyal customers and raising their community profile by reaching out locally. Another promotable way to implement sustainability is to donate leftover food to those in need. This has long been considered a legal liability but since the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act of 1996, food donations made in good faith are not subject to liability. Also, organizations such as Feeding America’s MealConnect can help take care of the details for you and you might even get a tax write-off!
Chef-Driven Fast-Casual Concepts
More and more customers are looking for faster food with fresh, quality ingredients. You can take advantage of this trend by elevating lunchtime basics such as burgers, salads, bowls and pizzas. By serving up high-quality food on the go, you can turn tables faster with customers who need to eat on the run but want to feel good about what they’re eating too.
Apps like DoorDash, UberEats, and GrubHub are making it easier for restaurants to serve more customers with less staff. Chipotle claims it can handle six more orders an hour when place through their mobile ordering app. Some of the newest restaurants have no dining area at all, serving delivery-only orders, enabling them to take advantage of less expensive lease space, and integrated loyalty programs keep customers returning.