Even as trends change and the restaurant landscape evolves, community is at the heart of the foodservice industry. As the year comes to a close, we are reflecting on the industry’s resilience. Restaurants have pivoted to meet regulations and respond to their community’s needs, while bringing people together over a shared love of food, craft and hospitality.
Being responsive, agile and in touch with the community will continue to drive the foodservice industry going forward. As we look to 2021, we have identified five trends we expect to see more of in the year ahead:
Delivery and To Go Service
It’s no secret that delivery and to go orders increased this year. With many customers turning to third-party delivery apps like DoorDash, Postmates, Uber Eats and Grubhub or opting for contactless or curbside pickup, the demand for takeaway orders is only going up. Luckily, many delivery apps have launched tools to help restaurants better meet demand, streamline the order process and incentivize with new and returning customers, such as DoorDash Storefront and Uber Eats’ Loyalty Program. Restaurants are also adapting their expo station to respond to the increased demand with dedicated team members to package and hand off takeaway orders.
Ghost Kitchens and Virtual Spinoffs
With the rise of delivery and to go orders, ghost kitchens and virtual spinoffs are increasing on third-party delivery-service apps. Ghost kitchens, also called dark kitchens, are delivery-only professional food prep and cooking facilities untethered to a brick and mortar restaurant. Though they don’t have their own dine-in areas, they may be housed within an established restaurant or commissary. Virtual spinoffs, on the other hand, offer brick and mortar restaurants a chance to experiment with different menu items specific to delivery services. This allows restaurants to be more flexible when it comes to responding to shifting regulations and customer feedback. However, workstations may need to be reconfigured or revamped to support a more efficient workflow.
One again, flexibility is key here. Themed, limited-time pop-up events allow restaurants to partner with local chefs, bars, breweries and other collaborators to experiment with new concepts and tap into their creativity. Pop-up events can take place all over the map — from food trucks to patios — which allows for greater versatility. Ticketed pop-up events also allow restaurants to manage capacity while increasing value.
Reservations and Online Bookings
Many restaurants are relying more heavily on online reservation systems, allowing or requiring guests to book their tables in advance. This helps restaurants and guests alike plan ahead, track capacity and stay on top of table turnover. These systems can be implemented through apps or directly on restaurants’ own websites.
Patio and Outdoor Dining
From cool, brisk nights beside a firepit to breezy days, outdoor dining is calling to people. Restaurants may want to invest in covered spaces to seat guests year-round, spruce up their gardens and community areas, and stock up on outdoor heaters and fans.
From the tried and true — high-quality stainless steel kitchen equipment — to the innovative — shapeshifting seasonal menus, the TME team is here to support restaurants in the new year. Our experts can provide recommendations for outfitting and updating your commercial kitchen to best meet the current needs of the foodservice industry. Learn more about our services.