Looking at Trends for 2014

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Is your restaurant ready for next year yet? Have you even
thought that far ahead? From the perspective of fine dining, it takes time to
put new things in place. How you prepare for the next trend is as important as
the outdoor restaurant furniture you purchase or the website you maintain.
Let’s look at a few of the anticipated trends and how to deal with them.

Local Everything Continues to Dominate

As Chipotle has proven, customers are interested in knowing
where their food comes from and how far it travels. If you haven’t established
a relationship with local farmers, this is the time to do so. Talk to your food
suppliers and find out how many local sources they have. If they still do most
of their business with distant or even foreign farms, it is time to consider
making some changes in the kitchen.

This trend towards local materials can extend right into
your dining room. When the time comes to replace your restaurant dining sets,
go local. Find a local craftsperson, work with a local sales rep, do what you
can to support your local businesses and they will do the same for you.

Appeal to the Senses

Another trend is that of expanding the senses one stimulates
with the food presented to one’s guests. Combine regional cuisine with
appropriate music. Bring in flowers that are harmonious with your environment
and consider repainting your walls if they are still drab beige. Try to appeal
to all the senses when presenting a meal; it is a great way to create a full
spectrum experience for your guests.

A Resurgence of Small Meals

Some in the food industry believe that our addiction to
electronic media has led to shortened attention spans which will spread to our
culinary tastes. As such there is some expectation that small plates, snacks,
and shared dishes will appeal increasingly to guests. In addition to such
culinary “micro-meals,” creating a line of such little delights that can be
taken home easily will provide another source of income.

Specialized Equipment from Your Restaurant Supplier

While this does not directly impact your diners, there is
also a trend towards investing in traditional equipment turned new again. Crock
pots have enjoyed a real resurgence in professional kitchens, as have
specialized dishes and glassware.

Among the most popular trends are homemade ingredients and
drinks. Whether you encourage your bartenders to play with home brewing
creating their own bitters or other drink specialties, or allow your kitchen
staff to play with new dishes, it will help you to stay ahead of the curve.
People like to feel that they are being served something truly unique, and this
is a great way to promote your trendiness and willingness to evolve as tastes