2021 Restaurant Food Trends
With the pandemic receding, more and more people are getting back to their normal lives, meaning they’re also taking the opportunity to go out to eat more. If you’re a restaurant owner yourself or own a commercial kitchen, you might be wondering what the post-pandemic future holds for the industry, so the team from Zanduco Restaurant Equipment & Supplies has collected some important information for you here.
Below you’ll find some of this year’s hottest restaurant and foodservice trends you can take advantage of!
Off-Premises Dining Will Continue
Although many implemented off-premises dining to remain afloat during the pandemic, it’s something that won’t be slowing down anytime soon. Restaurants that upped their off-premises services like curbside delivery, online ordering, and take-out options can expect to see these things continue this year. Although eating-in is low-risk, many customers are still showing that off-premise dining is one of their preferences.
A Return to Comfort
Prior to the pandemic, chefs were taking more chances to experiment and add a new twist to their offerings but these days, it’s all about a return to creating a comfortable and cozy eating environment for their clients. So, restaurants have been making it a focus to provide patrons with a comfortable place to enjoy their meal and socialize, rather than experimenting with the latest new culinary trend.
Virtual Cooking Classes
Another holdover from the pandemic, many restaurants are providing virtual cooking classes and wine tastings or pairings that explore the origins of their dishes, as well as global cuisines. By focusing on non-European dishes and ingredients, you can give your customers a chance to learn something and explore a new type of cuisine, as well as cook it themselves. You can even go one step further and create unique cultural backdrops for your virtual cooking class and add ethnic music into the mix for a more immersive experience.
More of an Effort to Go “Waste-Free”
This year, restauranters are making more of an effort to minimize waste and even go completely waste-free. This is due in large part to the drastic fluctuation of meat-based proteins like poultry, ground beef, and other ingredients experienced during the pandemic last year. Often referred to as “tail-to-snout” cooking, it’s an effort to use as much as possible of every protein ingredient, whether it be by creating soup stocks out of extra cuttings or making sausages, restaurants are finding inventive ways to use every last bit of their ingredients.
Food & Beverages with Increased Nutrition Options
These days, many are concerned about eating healthy, and lots of restaurants are following suit by offering dishes and beverages that are both healthy and stocked with additional vitamins, healthy bacteria, and probiotics. Such dishes are often presented as curated nutrition-stocked meals that can give your immune system a healthy boost.
Ghost Kitchens & Touchless Service
One of the things that the pandemic forced restaurant owners to do was to come up with inventive new ways to cut costs, while still being able to provide the highest quality dishes at the lowest possible price. This is where ghost kitchens come into play. Many restaurants nowadays, to get back on their feet, are teaming up with other restauranteurs in the kitchen and renting shared kitchen spaces rather than operating an in-house kitchen and eatery. Instead, they’re able to cook meals quickly and easily to either be transported to an offsite dining location or shipped out for delivery.
Touchless service is another big 2021 trend that involves unique technology so restaurants can get their product to market seamlessly and have their customer pick it up without having to lift a finger.
More Emphasis on Sanitation
These days, the more you can show your customers a commitment to sanitizing everything in your location, the better off you’ll be. Sanitation is now at the forefront of the restaurant industry for obvious reasons, but whereas before it wasn’t always front and center, now having those hand sanitizer dispensers out in the open can help you build trust with your customers. You can also use personal protective equipment (PPE) like masks, gloves, and other things for branding opportunities, prominently displaying your logo to customers and potential clients.
Social Media is a Must
Sure, pre-pandemic social media was a great way to share stories and highlight your goods and services, but nowadays it’s become a must for any restaurant that wants to succeed in a competitive marketplace. This is because things like Twitter, Facebook, and TikTok enable you to connect with your customers on a much more personal level than traditional advertising. You can create behind-the-scenes videos to show people a day in the life of one of your chefs or highlight new products you’re testing out that haven’t hit the menu yet. All of these things help customers put a face to the name and build more trust in your brand.
Shipping Containers Used for Outdoor Dining
Rather than sticking to the traditional plates and flatware common for outdoor dining at restaurants, more are using disposable shipping containers and silverware to not only make delivering fresh food more efficient but also enable customers to take things away much more easily. Additionally, having such containers can help minimize the risk of food contamination when traveling from the kitchen to the dining table.
An Emphasis on Regional Foods & Snacks
Another popular 2021 trend is a greater emphasis on regional foods. For example, if you own a Chinese restaurant, highlighting the specific type of cuisine you’re serving, whether it be Hunan, Cantonese, or Szechuan can differentiate your restaurant from competitors. Lots of restaurants are also jumping on the snack train, offering healthy, to-go snack options to those who are on the go or now working from home.
QR Code Menus
These days, customers don’t even have to touch a menu if they have the right technology at their fingertips. Offering QR code menus that they can simply scan to peruse menu items is both safer and easier for eaters. In fact, being able to easily pull up a takeout menu using a QR code will make restaurant patrons more likely to choose your location over another one where they have to walk into a location to peruse menu items. They’ll already know exactly what they want before walking in the door, making things easier and more efficient on both you, as well as them.
More Customer-Facing Technology
Piggybacking off what we mentioned above, these days many restaurants are investing in more customer-centered technology as dining options and expectations are changing. This means investing in things like online solutions or in-app ordering, as well as mobile and touchless payment solutions can help boost your business and reach more clients.
Outdoor Dining Innovations
Even with the pandemic taking a backseat as things return to normal, many customers might still prefer outdoor dining options, so restaurants should be prepared to invest in things to make them more comfortable. This could mean everything from updating your patio furniture to even investing in things like patio dome tents so clients can eat and remain comfortable during every season. If you plan on offering outdoor eating options year-round, investing in things like gas-powered patio heaters can make them feel comfortable even in the coldest weather.
Restaurant Loyalty Programs Are Front & Center
For those looking to boost foot traffic to their brick-and-mortar locations or improve online ordering, offering repeat customers something in return can be especially beneficial. Loyalty programs that offer a special incentive for patrons will often influence where they eat. Just be sure that when you’re doing so, you understand who your core customers are and what types of loyalty programs will promote engagement. Additionally, be as creative as possible to catch the eye of potential customers. This could mean everything from offering off-menu items to providing a part of their payment to a charitable cause. You could also even partner with other local businesses to offer discounts in the neighborhood.
Canned Cocktails, Hybrid Restaurant Models, & Plant-Based Packaged Foods
These days, restaurants are finding new and innovative ways to offer quality menu items that customers can take along with them including canned cocktails, as well as plant-based packaged foods for those who want to eat healthier. Additionally, many places are offering hybrid restaurant models that include not only traditional dining-in and takeout options, but also meal kits and pantry packs so customers can try their hand at cooking their own items from your menu at home.
Contact us today for more about new food trends, and food equipment and supplies!
If you want to change how your restaurant is operating today and need some new equipment to do so, Zanduco Restaurant Equipment & Supplies is always available to help you outfit your new kitchen. Contact us online today or call 1 (855) 926-3826.