The restaurant industry was hit hard during the pandemic, but what does the future hold for restauranteurs? 2022 was a difficult year, with challenges such as inflation, cost of labor increasing, and supply chain shortages. Despite these challenges, the restaurant industry is currently experiencing more growth since 2017 and is seeing the lowest failure rates since 2009-2010. These statistics indicate that the restaurant industry is making a recovery from the pandemic, and the growth is forecasted to continue in 2023 and beyond!
While this is certainly promising news for the restaurant industry, as a restaurant owner, it’s important to stay informed about restaurant industry trends and challenges to anticipate what’s to come.
While it is difficult to predict the exact trending ingredients and dishes, as food trends are constantly evolving, some foods that have gained popularity in 2022 are likely to maintain their popularity in 2023. Trending foods include plant-based proteins, fermented foods, more diverse ingredients, and global cuisines.
Plant-based proteins, such as beans, lentils, and tofu, have gained popularity as more people are looking for alternative protein sources. Fermented foods, like kimchi, kombucha, and sauerkraut, are also becoming more popular due to their potential gut health benefits. Lastly, more diverse ingredients, such as mushrooms, kale, and quinoa, will start becoming staples in many dishes.
Ethnic cuisines, such as Indian, Japanese, and African, have been gaining popularity in recent years and may continue to do so in the future as people become more interested in trying new and diverse flavors. Other trends that may emerge in the future include the use of unconventional ingredients, such as insects, and the popularity of healthier, whole food-based dishes.
In recent years, some of the most problematic restaurant industry trends that businesses are facing are rising labor costs and a tight labor market, which has contributed to high employee turnover. Employee turnover in the restaurant industry was at an all-time high of 75% in 2022. The rate of employee turnover can be affected by various factors, including economic conditions, competition, and industry-specific factors such as the availability of jobs and the demand for restaurant services.
As it’s difficult to predict if employee turnover will improve in the upcoming year, it’s imperative that you have a plan in place to minimize staffing issues. Not only will staffing issues decrease the level of service at your restaurant, it is also costly for your business. According to the Center of Hospitality Research at Cornell, it costs approximately $5,864 to replace a single frontline staff member. Managers are even more costly to replace, and can cost up to $15,000 per manager.
Some restaurants have implemented strategies to reduce employee turnover, such as offering competitive compensation and benefits, providing opportunities for career advancement, promoting work-life balance, and improving working conditions. These efforts may help to mitigate the impact of external factors on employee turnover. Another useful asset during this period of high turnover is to use a people management software to stay organized. Book a demo with Push to learn how we can help you during these challenging times.
Ultimately, combating high turnover, which is one of the most challenging restaurant industry trends, will depend on a combination of internal and external factors that are difficult to predict with certainty.
One of the economic conditions that could have a forceful impact on the restaurant industry is inflation. As the cost of goods and services increases, restaurants may have to raise their prices to offset these higher costs. Fewer people will choose to get their food delivered at home due to the increasing cost of delivery and the food itself. In addition, restaurants may struggle to maintain profit margins as their costs rise faster than their prices.
Inflation isn’t the only economic problem that can have a large effect on the restaurant industry. A potential recession is another issue that could significantly impact the industry as well. During times of economic downturn, consumers may cut back on dining out and spending money on non-essential items. This means that we can expect to see people dine out less frequently, but will dine out at higher-end restaurants more often instead. Dining out will increasingly become reserved for special occasions and intimate date nights.
To mitigate the impacts of inflation and a potential recession, restaurants may need to find ways to reduce costs or increase efficiency. This can include sourcing cheaper ingredients, negotiating better deals with suppliers, or finding ways to reduce waste.
Technology is playing an increasingly important role in the restaurant industry, with many restaurants using apps and online ordering systems, such as Uber Eats and DoorDash, to streamline their operations and improve the customer experience. In addition, social media marketing through TikTok and Instagram are a great way to increase exposure – and there is the potential for businesses to go viral. Review platforms, such as Google and Yelp, can increase the likelihood of people choosing to dine there since 33% of people read other customers’ reviews online.
The last thing to keep in mind is to update your website’s UX (user experience) design. Considering that a whopping 90% of people look up a restaurant online before dining there, having a website that’s easy to use can go a long way. Adding photos of the menu items can also let potential customers envision themselves dining at your restaurant. Overall, taking the time to curate your business’ online footprint can make a significant impact on the size of your customer base.
As the restaurant industry is always changing and evolving to meet the needs of consumers, some new and unique dining concepts have appeared. These restaurant industry trends are focused on reducing overhead, reaching a wider customer base, and testing new food concepts.
Ghost kitchens, also known as virtual kitchens or cloud kitchens, are a growing trend in the restaurant industry. These are dedicated spaces for preparing food for delivery or pickup, without the need for a dining room or storefront. This allows restaurants to attract customers who may not be able to visit their physical location.
Similar to ghost kitchens, ghost restaurants are physical restaurants that only offer takeout or delivery, without a dining room or seating area. This allows restaurants to focus on the food and the customer experience, without the overhead costs of a traditional restaurant.
Pop-up restaurants, which are temporary restaurants that operate for a limited time in a specific location, are a growing trend in the restaurant industry. These allow restaurants to test new concepts and menus, as well as reach new customers. Pop-up restaurants are also a great way to test out new locations and neighborhoods, before committing to a lease. And pop-up restaurants have the additional appeal of only being available for a limited time, so if marketed properly, you can expect a steady flow of customers – and maybe even a queue down the street!
Overall, the restaurant industry in 2023 is expected to be marked by a focus on sustainability, plant-based options, technology, and convenience. As the world continues to recover from the pandemic and find a way to adapt to the “new normal”, we can expect there may be more ups and downs for the year ahead. Businesses that can adapt to these restaurant industry trends and meet the changing needs of their customers are likely to be the most successful.
For a more detailed analysis of the 2022 trends we’ve seen and our 2023 predictions, download our State Of The Restaurant Industry 2023 Report here.
Ready to learn how Push can prepare your restaurant for 2023? Book a demo with us today!
“In the labor numbers, we were reporting about a $300 to $400 difference than what we were getting through Push!”
-Tara Hardie, ZZA Hospitality Group, 16 locations