Trends and Tools for Restaurants in 2013


With each passing year, trends rise and fall. Nowhere is this truer than in the foodservice industry. With consumer tastes becoming more sophisticated and the demand for better value increasing as economic forecasts remain uncertain, 2013 is setting up to be a year of refined resourcefulness for restaurant owners and patrons alike.

In order to be successful in keeping up with these changing trends you need to supply yourself with the proper knowledge and tools. Here are some emerging trends for 2013 and what you will need to stay with the times:

Business as Casual

Like 2012, consumers in 2013 will remain budget conscious. And like 2012, consumers will continue to ditch the traditional full-service restaurant model for the fast casual restaurant format.

Situated right in the middle of competing choices, fast casual restaurants offer a bolder menu variety than fast food restaurants and have lower prices than traditional restaurants. Fast casuals also feature modern décor and themes that millennials crave, like open kitchens and open seating. In 2011 the top 150 fast-casual chains earned $21.5 billion and grew 8.4 percent, which was up from 6.6 percent in 2010. With profitability and popularity increasing, analysts expect another increase in 2013.

Proof of this trend’s popularity can be found in mainstays like Denny’s, IHOP and Red Robin, who have expanded into the fast casual market by developing stores where patrons can order at the counter and take their food on the go.

All Grown Up

Millennial influence is a growing factor in how restaurants present themselves. It is also impacting what restaurants are serving. Consumers are seeking more dynamic, diverse dishes and will continue to do so in 2013.

Artisan sandwiches featuring fresh ingredients have become lunchtime favorites. The panini has been a popular item for years and is a blessing for sandwich shops and delis thanks to how easy they are to make (and how easy they can be marked up). Panini sandwich presses are perfect tools for smaller establishments because of their limited footprint and exceptional productivity.

Even hamburgers are changing. Consumers are seeking premium add-ons like caramelized onions and pineapple; fancy sauces and condiments; and side items like hand-cut sweet potato fries.

2013 will also see an increased demand for ethnic dishes like customizable sushi, Indian wraps, pho, gyros and others that have consistently risen in popularity. This doesn’t mean American-centric restaurants cannot capitalize. Simply adding feta and tzatziki sauce to a grass-fed hamburger or tempura vegetables as an appetizer can prove a major draw.

If you build it, they will come

Consumers are also becoming more and more health-conscious, searching out restaurants with fresh made products. For instance, restaurants have begun baking in-house in order to reduce costs and have more control over their products. This is especially important when it comes to offering great variety of gluten-free items other restaurants or bakeries simply do not offer. Of course, in-house baking requires a number of baking supplies, but being in direct control of your final product is priceless.

Gluten-free doesn’t just begin and end with breads and desserts, either. Noodles and pasta made from vegetables or rice are gaining in popularity with individuals with wheat and grain allergies. Pasta machines and noodle makers make it surprisingly easy to create your own specialty products.

Fresh-squeezed juices and smoothies, whether citrus or vegetable, will also continue their ascent in 2013 as they slowly overtake sodas as beverage choices. Electric juicers and commercial blenders can take all the work out of it and provide even more of that hands-on experience that fast casual restaurants provide.

The Rise of the Plant People

Colorful, nutritious and filling: that has been the constant suggestion of dieticians when it comes to our food selections. In 2013, foodies will also be demanding the same.

Consumers want vegetables to be more of a feature item than just a side dish. Vegetarian and vegan favorites like kale, seaweed and beets have been turned into popular main courses, and vegan-friendly menu items like soy, tofu and tempeh are also on the rise.

Snack Time

It isn’t always about meals. People love snacks, whether they are mini-hamburgers, fancy dips with veggies and chips or bite-size desserts.

The beauty of this trend is that no matter the size of your establishment, snacks can be easy to produce and market. Fast casual restaurants can easily sell smaller portions of their regular menu options or tasty confections like fresh-baked cookies and bite-size brownies.

Bars and restaurants can make and sell food at night even after the kitchen has closed. Items like countertop fryers make it easy for a limited night staff to come up with classic favorites like chicken wings, fries and cheese sticks.

You may want to offer square meals, but that doesn’t mean you ought to be a square. Keeping up with the popular trends in 2013 will keep your look fresh and your menu selections even fresher.


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