ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, IL (January 19, 2016) — The New Year brings hundreds of new restaurant trends. Across the industry and the internet, researchers and chefs offer up an incredible range of the latest ingredients, new cooking styles and hot technology.
To help restaurateurs focus their time and resources, the Restaurant.com dining experts analyzed the most noteworthy predictions and boiled them down to seven hot trends worth pursuing.
1. Hyper-Local Sourcing
Working with local growers and farmers continues to be important to diners—they are more conscious of their food choices today, than ever. While this trend took root over the last few years, it will continue to grow in 2016. The trend suggests vegetable-forward dishes, local ingredients and meats from local farms and butchers.
2. Upscale Fast Food
An increasing number of casual restaurants are offering mouthwatering food that’s quick to serve and not too expensive. Time-starved diners are demanding higher quality for abbreviated lunches and quick dinners and restaurants like Shake Shack® are responding, creating opportunities for everything from new restaurant concepts to updated menu items.
3. Fried Chicken
Diners across the nation can’t get enough of fried chicken! Crispy, flavorful southern fried chicken sparked this obsession, and hatched a variety of new fast-casual food chains. Restaurants might add (or promote!) their own twist with signature wings, sandwiches and, of course, main dishes with all the fixin’s.
4. Exotic Flavors
Diners love something new…yet tend to order something expected. Ethnic mashups or fusion cuisine gives them both with recipes that mix countries like Asia and Mexico or Italy and India.
Last year, many chefs tried to duplicate Sriracha…this year, they are getting inspiration from the bold red sauce and turning up the heat in their own dishes. This hot trend is to use bolder, more assertive spices in traditionally spicy dishes.
5. Shrinking Portions
Small plates are also more important to diners this year, which creates opportunities to build menus without adding new recipes. To get on this trend, restaurants might offer a selection of popular dishes as appetizers, or as tasting menus with just a few bites.
5. A Helping of Social Media
This is the year for restaurants to rev up their social media presence. Today’s diners are more addicted to their smartphones than ever. The good news is that investing in social media doesn’t need to cost a lot of time or money—yet it’s a vital marketing component for any restaurant.
9. Reinventing Service
Service is changing, from server compensation and minimum wage changes to high-tech ordering options. And while many restaurants may not need to make changes this year, this is a trend to keep tabs on.
No tipping was in the headlines throughout 2015. Select national chains, like Joe’s Crab Shack®, are eliminating tipping altogether—and are raising menu prices to compensate.
Major food chains are rolling out diner-friendly technology to simplify ordering and payment, potentially lower staff size and give diners greater control over their dining experience.
Ordering online is a growing necessity for restaurants that offer takeout and delivery. Plus, Tech giants, including Amazon Prime, Google and UberEats, are releasing “instant” delivery smartphone apps that let diners get high-speed delivery from just about any restaurant.
For more details and helpful ideas to implement these predictions, please visit the Restaurant.com blog, Perfect Portions at partnerblog.restaurant.com.
Restaurant.com has been connecting diners, restaurants, businesses and communities since 1999. The company offers savings at more than 20,000 restaurants nationwide with more than 45,000 dining deals on its website and mobile app. To date, Restaurant.com diners have saved more than $1 billion, filling more than 3.5 million tables annually. Restaurant.com is a pioneer in the deal space and is headquartered in Arlington Heights, IL.
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