The Restaurant Trends in 2021 You Need to Know About

Written by Kit Jenkin

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You’re a restaurant owner, and you have to know everything you can about your industry to keep your business relevant and solvent. 

After all, keeping up to date with the latest developments can help spark your creativity, provide ideas for your menu, and inspire new ideas about how to deliver your amazing dining experience to your customers. 

And it’s not just food trends you have to keep on top of. You need to know the latest trends in decor, service, supply chains, technology, and business structure to ensure your business becomes, and remains, a success. 

Keep reading to find out which restaurant trends are taking over in your industry.

Pop-ups may rise in popularity

Let’s face it: running a restaurant is expensive. There are rent expenses, food costs, labour costs, and other overheads that can sink a new venture in the water in its first few months of operating. 

One of the ways to avoid the long-term costs of opening a permanent restaurant is to open a pop-up. 

Pop-ups are usually mobile kitchens (think food trucks). Owners dedicated to opening a pop-up usually tailor their choice of food to the clientele and location they have in mind and set up an operation specifically designed to deliver it. 

Pop-up restaurants allow the owners and operators more flexibility and help minimize costs by keeping your operation lean. They also help reduce the risk associated with investing in a brick-and-mortar location. 

Vegetarianism and veganism

The environmental and ethical arguments for vegetarianism and veganism are becoming harder and harder to ignore. 

With the world struggling with the climate crisis because of global meat production, the poor treatment of animals in mass farming, and the well-documented health benefits of such diets, vegetarianism and veganism are becoming increasingly popular

Vegetarian options have long been staples of restaurant menus, but vegan options are becoming increasingly popular as restaurants rush to serve the growing number of vegans in the world. 

Offering a handful of vegetarian and vegan options will help your restaurant thrive in 2021 and beyond.

Locally sourced food

While restaurateurs have always known the benefits of using locally sourced foods, recent global events have shown why sourcing food locally is more important than ever.

So much of the food we consume is brought to us from far-flung parts of the world. Shipping this food, whether by boat, train your truck, expends a lot of CO2. It takes considerably less energy to ship beef from Scotland to London than it does from Australia to London. Sourcing locally is also a great way of ensuring the seasonality and freshness of your ingredients. 

Consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the world’s food supply chain has on the climate and the environment. Restaurants that cater to these attitudes and make their menus locally sourced will have an advantage when appealing to the public’s sensibilities. 

Eco-consciousness and Michelin Green Stars

One aspect of the food industry that is gaining a lot of prominence is sustainability. Even though restaurants and the larger hospitality industry went through massive amounts of disruption during 2020-21, more focus than ever has been placed on the sustainability practices of restaurants. This may in fact be spurred by new attention to how shutting down economies for the pandemic has affected the climate, and the effect our mass production of food has on the environment.

This eco-consciousness has led to people choosing restaurants that are dedicated to sustainable practices in growing, preparing, and serving food.

Lots of establishments work directly with growers, farmers, and fishermen; forage in woodlands; grow their own produce and rear their own animals, and use regenerative methods such as no-dig vegetable gardens and successional cover crop growing. 

So large has this trend become that the Michelin guide, the bible of chefs and foodies the world over, has included a new category for these types of establishments. Those organizations that hold themselves accountable for their environmental and ethical choices get a coveted Michelin Green Star

Though this designation is only applied to restaurants in the UK and Ireland, the trend could spread to all corners of the globe. 

QR codes

The pandemic made QR codes cool again. Long deemed a marketing gimmick that was falling out of fashion, QR codes came roaring back during the pandemic because of their ability to facilitate contactless ordering.

Let’s say you’re out at a restaurant, but the server can’t give you a menu because they have to limit contact. Many restaurants now use QR codes to let people download the restaurant’s menus right to their phone, along with apps that allow them to order themselves directly from the table. 

With the world still dealing with the effects of the pandemic, contactless-order might be here to stay.

Outdoor dining

Another trend gifted to us by the pandemic, outdoor dining has become a must for most hospitality establishments. When it became common knowledge that the coronavirus was more easily spread indoors, many restaurants were either shut down or had to adhere to strict social distancing and non-contact rules. 

To get around the distancing requirements and to keep getting people in their customers through the door, a considerable number of restaurants have turned to serving their diners outdoors on patios and other seating areas. This allowed restaurants to keep their customers safe while enjoying a meal out. 

Ghost kitchens

Despite their spooky name, ghost kitchens are one of the most exciting developments in food service in recent years.

A ghost kitchen is, basically, a dining-area-free food service business that focuses specifically on the preparation of delivery-only meals. A ghost kitchen doesn’t usually have its own brand and may use its facilities to cook for more than one restaurant brand. Ghost kitchens can work in brick-and-mortar restaurants or as their own facilities. 

For entrepreneurs who are interested in food service, but uninterested in the front of house dimension, setting up a ghost kitchen may be of interest. Because ghost kitchens don’t need dining areas, rents are cheaper and there is no need to hire wait staff. 

Many brick-and-mortar restaurants had to shut down during the pandemic due to safety concerns and government restrictions. Ghost kitchens helped these restaurants make up their lost revenue and minimized employee layoff by allowing staff to prepare food for multiple brands to keep themselves in business. Virtual restaurants also grew exponentially during this time thanks to ghost kitchens. 

New tech for a new era

As a restaurant owner, you know how important it is to keep your brand relevant, whether it’s keeping up to date with the latest restaurant trends or networking with your peers. One of the ways to keep your establishment up to date is to stay knowledgeable about the hospitality industry’s latest tech. 

And for a restaurant, what tech could be more important than their point of sale system?

With an Epos Now POS, you can streamline your restaurant’s processes, limit contact to keep your staff and customers safe and integrate dozens of apps to help your business run smoother.

  • Limit contact and reduce touchpoints to keep your customers and staff safe
  • Connect to ordering and delivery apps to create new revenue streams
  • Track inventory, calculate costs, simplify reordering and integrate with leading software
  • Access sales reports on any device to boost business performance, reduce waste, and improve employee efficiency
  • Offer delivery, collection and table ordering services with our online ordering platform
  • Identify popular delivery orders to create smarter promotions

Contact Epon Now today to learn more about our systems.

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