Food trends change. That’s
no surprise to anyone in the restaurant industry. The key is to figure out
which trends are legitimate and which are just flashes in the pan. And, 2014 is
already proving to be a big year for the fast-casual segment. What other trends
will we see? Pull up your bistro chair and find out.
Furniture Goes Soft
As more restaurants move toward the fast casual format,
they are also adopting a softer posture. More comfortable chairs top the list
of what guests want. Of course, they also want a more welcoming atmosphere.
Many individually owned eateries are going with an eclectic mix of pieces to
give everyone a bit of what they want; easy chairs, cushioned seats and even
Consumers want to know what they are eating and where it
came from. Local sourcing, information on animal treatment and general business
practices are of interest. The more guests know about the way you run your
operation, the happier they are. While it may not be necessary to present a
photo album describing the conditions in which your food was raised, promoting
green practices and being known for responsible husbandry can only help your
Turn on the Tech
However much you may think that your restaurant should be a
tech free zone; reconsider. Technology can cut service times, track loyalty
programs, entertain guests and attract certain guests. Among the hottest items
are tabletop tablets, wireless kiosks and digital menu boards. With the right
tech, you can encourage guests to sign up for loyalty programs and create a
great marketing list with minimal effort.
Taste the International Rainbow
New flavors are predicted for this year as well. Think
Brazilian and spicy Asian elements. Sure, Sriracha was the big hit in 2013, but
you need to go further this year. There are spicy sauces all over the world,
and you can’t go wrong by incorporating them into your cuisine.
Another trend involves diversity and heirloom standing.
Just about everyone has seen the colorful palate of heirloom tomatoes. This
year, beans seem to be the hot item. You may be able to find such items
locally, which will only add to your cachet as that extra “something special.”
In fact, you can count on interest in local foods to
continue. Part of the whole transparency/eco-friendly movement, items that are
locally sourced are increasingly popular. This holds true for local breweries
as well. Add a line of local beers and you can expect instant interest.
Another game changer may be self-serve drink dispensers
that let customers design their own soft drinks. Consider getting one for your
Whether you are running a full service sit down restaurant
or a fast-casual eatery, keeping up with trends is important if you are to
remain relevant in your community.