Restaurant Operation Trends
Like fashion, restaurant operations have trends and fads that ebb and flow with time- recall the roller-skating waitresses at drive-in diners during the 1950s or the servers sporting excessive flair and suspenders during the early 2000s. Some restaurant trends never go out of style - like saving customers money, food safety. Other trends are newer, including local foods and social media - both of which aren’t likely to disappear any time soon.
Offering Discounts and Coupons
Recession or no recession, customers love a bargain. Even though the economy is slowly rebounding, consumers will probably never be as free with their money as they were in the past twenty-five years. People will still continue to expect maximum bang for their buck. In the What’s Hot in 2011 survey from the National Restaurant Association (NRA), 38% of chef’s surveyed cited offering value specials as the most successful strategy for maintaining and building business during the recession- this included coupons and prix fixe menus.
Social Media for Restaurants
If your restaurant isn’t on Facebook or Twitter, you may want to sign up. Social-media based marketing for restaurants continues to grow and evolve. More and more people turn to the internet for information about where to eat. Google your restaurant. What comes up? Along with the name, address and phone number, there are oodles of sites dedicated to customer reviews for restaurants. Familiarize yourself with your restaurant’s online profile and start building a marketing campaign to enhance it. Social marketing sites like Facebook or Twitter allow you to promote specials and events and reach your local audience all for free!
Restaurant Food Truck Businesses
The number one hottest operational trend for 2015, according to the NRA, is mobile food trucks and pop-up restaurants. A food truck business offers low start-up costs over a brick and mortar restaurant, ideal for someone looking to open their own restaurant. Or, if you already own an existing restaurant, a food truck is another way to reach customers.
Sustainability and Local Foods
Buying local and growing your own foods peppered the top ten trends of What’s Hot in 2011. Consumers are increasingly aware of where their food is coming from and featuring local foods on your menu is a great way to capitalize on the current trend as well as help out your local farmers. Many restaurants are going beyond buying local to growing their own. Restaurants with gardens (on the rooftop, communal, etc…) were cited by 18% of chefs as the hottest operational trend in 2011. Even if you don’t have the space or inclination to grow your own vegetables, there are plenty of farmers who would do.
Public Health Concerns
Now more than ever, restaurants are being pressured to create healthier meals with smaller portions. Americans are overweight and plagued by chronic disease such as diabetes. In response to public demand, many restaurants now offer smaller portion sizes and healthier food options on their regular menu. Children’s menus, too, are getting a healthy make-over.