We are already well into the year and have been discussing the current trends in the restaurant world and what we think might be the next big thing. This is a topic we are always interested in at this time of year as we start to ready ourselves for the cooler months and plan for the busy Summer that follows.
The influences of Covid and the knock-on effects continue to drive the majority of food trends we are seeing in the restaurant world. Here are a few we are talking about.
This growing trend becomes stronger and reaches further each year and now goes way beyond the nose to tail cooking philosophy.
Going deeper to the source, there is a push back to regional agricultural food structures and promoting domestic markets. As farmers trend towards regenerative methods of crop production, the focus is on smaller and more effective plots. This follows right through to the trend of ethically sourcing ingredients and buying from local producers. Provenance is becoming increasingly important and is often used as a marketing tool on menus.
We have seen this through our work in Bitton Consulting. This year alone we have had several clients using our services to either help their small batch, locally food product into a manufacturing setting or re-structure menus to incorporate less wastage and more locally available produce.
PLANT BASED FOOD
Since 2015 there has been a phenomenal rise of 700% in the purchase of packaged plant-based products and the whole industry is set to increase by 3 times just this year. In turn comes the desire to enjoy and experiment with plant-based food at home and in a restaurant setting. Whether you choose to eat it exclusively or not, there are now many more options. Even one of the worlds most iconic restaurants – New York’s Madison 11 went purely vegan last year. More locally, King Street in Newtown has seen the creation of a ‘Vegan Quarter’ with so many eateries opting for exclusively vegan menus.
In our own business, we have seen a 30% increase in people requesting plant based dietary requirements when they book. In response to this, at Bitton we introduced our monthly bespoke plant based dinners that were instantly popular. This is a trend we will continue to work on incorporating more frequently into our seasonal menus.
THE RISE OF THE SMART RESTAURANT
Although technology is of course always reinventing the wheel in most industries, Covid gave it a huge push along and it meant that restaurants had to get on board to remain relevant. From better online ordering practices, to contactless delivery and clever QR coding, the technology available to our industry has grown exponentially.
A simple booking platform can now tell you almost anything you want to know about your diner before they even arrive and sit at the table. Clever platforms such as Seven Rooms also integrate all your digital marketing needs, reporting and communication tools in one.
Then of course there is AI. By typing a simple question into a search box, you can create all your marketing material, social media posts, menus, recipes … the opportunities are endless. Watch this space as this technology is sure to change the way we do business and enable small brands to build quickly.
In 2022 a popular fast food chain opened its first robot only operated restaurant in Moscow. At Bitton we have always questioned this space - does less staff mean less of the service that keeps you back? As a business that has built itself on providing exceptional experiences for our customers, where do such technologies fit in?
During lockdown and with the sudden pivot to more online offerings, we re-launched our website, implemented a new POS system and used QR codes regularly to communicate with our customers. While we are always educating ourselves on new technology in this space, we remain careful about what we take on.
SOCIAL MEDIA COOKING
Have your children recently come home with a sudden burning desire to cook due to something they’ve seen on TikTok or You Tube? There is a new force of young foodies coming through thanks to the various social media platforms and influencers. With this comes much experimentation as regular food rules and techniques are thrown out and a rise in ‘fusion’ food sits in it’s place. Some of it careless, some of it clever. Whether you are a food purist or not, its' influence cannot be ignored and with the reach of such platforms, it’s a trend that will continue to grow.
Bring on the kid’s taking over a few week day family meals!
What is a ghost kitchen? It is a virtual restaurant that doesn’t have a storefront and offers food for delivery only. And you would be surprised to know how many there are out there – worldwide, the market began to boom in 2019 generating an estimated $43.1 billion globally. It 2027 it is expected to reach $71.4 billion.
As restaurateurs continue to invent new ways to bring in extra revenue streams, deep in the depths of restaurants kitchens, new food brands are being built – sometimes several out of the same venue.
During lockdown we dabbled in this space with the creation of Booty Burger . We built a brand in a matter of weeks, launched it and created a brand new revenue stream out of our own kitchen in Alexandria without any further over heads.
As we move beyond the chaos of the last 3 years, the future looks bright with possibility for our industry, especially with the support of new technology and the entrepreneurship that has inevitably grown in amongst our restaurateurs in response to the pandemic .
Who knows what will come next?