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Covid-19 has caused major disruptions throughout the foodservice industry while simultaneously sparking new restaurant trends. Leading the pack are tech-related revenue streams like online ordering through delivery apps, but futuristic sounding features like AI-outfitted drive-thru’s and robot kitchens are being integrated sooner than we ever expected. We’re far from the post-Covid era, so expect businesses to start testing the latest and greatest innovations in restaurant technology rather than close their doors permanently. 

Here are 5 restaurant trends that can directly impact your profitability and put you on the winning side of this crisis.

Lifestyle Marketing Campaigns and LTOs

restaurant trends

Covid-19 has induced a sense of separation and loneliness among many. In response, people are looking for personalized experiences they can document and share online. The idea of exclusivity and being the first to something is one of the oldest tricks in the marketing book. Restaurants that capitalize on this create dining experiences that encourage brand loyalty by making customers feel unique.

Starbucks, for example, is known for coming out with the perfect hype storms and new restaurant trends. Just last month they made Salted Caramel Mocha and similar drinks available for a limited time only. Other fast-food restaurants have introduced license plate scanners to remember specific orders. This also allows them to collect data on customer purchases to help them better tweak the menu.

You don’t have to be so techie when trying to follow this restaurant trend. Instagrammable merchandise like T-shirts is a relatively simple way of reaching that lifestyle vibe and driving social media engagement. Just remember to always keep it about the guest.

Smaller, Simplified Menus

Many restaurant owners were recently forced to reassess their business strategies and find creative ways to reduce expenditure without sacrificing the quality of food.

One effective way to cut back expenses, keep up with restaurant trends, while still providing a high-quality, personalized experience is crafting shorter menus or splitting existing menus between meal periods. It is much easier to streamline inventory management and drive food costs down with a smaller menu. It’s also a way to improve food quality by asking your chefs to make fewer items really well. As for customers, a smaller menu helps ease diners’ choice paralysis and instead give them a sense of simplicity and security.

Delivery Apps and Takeout Services

Restaurants leaving third party delivery apps and starting their own takeout service is one of the most disruptive phenomena of 2020. With apps like UberEats, GrubHub and DoorDash charging a ridiculous 30% rate and eating into their profits, restaurants are saying enough is enough.

Once freed from third-party delivery services, restaurants are discovering there are other benefits to managing their own takeout and delivery service. Here are some key points that are driving this restaurant trend that concern customer satisfaction:

  • Driving customer service complaints down

  • Easing the pressure on the restaurant and streamlining order fulfillment

  • Increasing brand recognizability

  • Having more control and offering a more personalized delivery experience

Ghost Restaurants

Ghost kitchens are restaurants that operate out of a kitchen but do not have a dining space. Also known as virtual kitchens, dark kitchens or cloud kitchens, these are foodservice businesses that offer no customers service. In fact, it is a way to manage a restaurant brand without ever actually meeting the diners. Today, this restaurant trend is expanding to include restaurants that have a small grab-and-go area.

The greatest benefit of this restaurant trend is its low overhead costs. Rent, service staff salaries and operational costs are all reduced to a minimum. It’s important to remember that this is not a no-cost business. Creating and maintaining a solid brand identity and good website, building a strong online presence, crafting a high-quality menu, and operating a delivery service are all costs to consider. Still, ghost kitchens are one of the less-risky options for restaurants operating in this unpredictable industry.

Tech and Self Service 2.0

Technology has long become part of our lives, including our dining experiences. Customers expect restaurants to provide a contactless dining experience now with features including QR codes on tables, kiosks, online ordering and order-from-your-phone. Most of the features are available by the most popular POS companies like Square and Toast.

Fast food chains are now transitioning to grab-and-go restaurants that operate vending machines and self-serve bars. After the initial investment, this restaurant trend can go a long way in reducing queues and cutting down on overhead costs. Before Covid-19, McDonalds led the way with self-service kiosks and drink machines. This level of robotics and automation is probably beyond the financial scope of most small to medium sized restaurants. But, especially with the demand for ready-made meals on the rise, it is probably where most major food chains are going.

Technology can seem daunting to many restaurant owners, especially when the words automation and robots get thrown around. But introducing technology to your restaurant is an achievable task. Customers will appreciate small gestures, too, like tablets that let them browse the menu, create customized orders and pay for their meal entirely on their own.

Cheetah Is Your Restaurant Trends Radar

Cheetah is a wholesale food supplier. We serve both consumers and restaurants, which gives us insight into both sides of the foodservice industry. Follow us to learn more about the disrupting restaurant trends that are shaping the futu

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