2017 is already promising to be a very exciting and interesting year. We’ve noticed some trends in the industry that we hope choose to flourish and maybe we will even have a chance to help some of our clients with some of these amusing trends.
Expanding to Fast Casual
Instead of growing a restaurant group by duplicating what already exists or staying at that level, some restaurants are opting to create a smaller, fast-casual spot. One trend that is growing is the “make your own” assembly line of food (think Chipotle). A Greek restaurant might do the same thing with a pita or rice bowl or an Italian restaurant might start a small pizza place. This allows a concept to grow and expand clientele.
Less Waste / Embracing Ugly Food
Sustainability in restaurants is moving forward and diners are beginning to open up a movement revolving around less waste. There are concepts that have opened specifically to use up the unwanted produce and “ugly” fruits and vegetables out there. Given that we throw away 30-40% of the food we bring into our house, it’s time we woke up to that reality and started to embrace food for food. In some cases, it doesn’t need to be perfect. Smoothies and juices are not bias to the prettiest apple or strawberry of the bunch. Sharing with your guests that you do not discriminate against certain foods due to their “look” might get them giggling, but will surely spark their interest. You can begin to share with them your approach to creating less food waste and hopefully share with them your composting regime.
Butchers are making a comeback and we aren’t complaining. Lately diners are embracing a throwback into a world without fancy machines, gimmicks and hokey menu items. They love to see authentic, simple food prepared by hard working hands of that of a butcher, baker, chef, etc. Rather than assuming that the meat is coming from a regional supplier, it intrigues the guest when you say you buy from a local butcher or better yet, have one in house. We really enjoy when restaurants showcase their relationship with a local butcher. We also really enjoy those who are opening butcheries up again and creating a truly genuine place for us to enjoy our meats.
Versatile Restaurant Space
There are a number of reasons one might open their restaurant doors to someone other than diners. Lately a handful of spaces have rented out their floors for satellite workers. Remote workspaces are popping up more and more as people chose to work from home and away from the office. For those who still like the social interaction, a community workspace is ideal and what better space than that of a restaurant? The restaurant doesn’t necessarily need to be serving food. A simple coffee station and maybe a few snacks should suffice. It might require a manager on duty, but if a restaurant isn’t open for breakfast or lunch, there is a high change you have a manager or some sort of supervisor around hours before the doors actually open.
Another reason one might lease out their space to someone or even create a “blank space” is for the rotating food concepts that might only need to be in service a few nights a month. For example, one might open a neutral space that has a setup kitchen and a basic dining platform. This space can then be used by visiting chefs, food trucks that typically only operate during the day, cooking classes, etc. It takes a lot of time and effort to keep the calendar full so that the space is generating profit, but it’s certainly a great way to be diverse and bring a community together.
We are anxious to help our clients grow in 2017 and hopefully experiment with some of these trends. What trends are you seeing out there? Are you excited or looking for something more in 2017? Let us know. We’re happy to help you do anything from turning an ugly cucumber into a work of art or reinventing your concept to those who might not normally visit your restaurant.
Ray Camillo – CEO, Blue Orbit Restaurant Consulting