9 Popular Restaurant Trends to Follow in 2022
The Covid-19 pandemic gave rise to trends that will likely affect the restaurant industry even beyond 2022. Frequent changes in sanitation and lockdown regulations forced restaurants to think of creative ways to survive, while still providing guests with quality meals and a stellar dining experience.
As a result, patrons became accustomed to conveniences such as contactless ordering, delivery, more convenient takeout options, and a greater focus on health and safety.
According to Forbes, those key trends will impact how restaurants do business now and in the future. Here are some ways business can maintain their effective 2021 business practices–which also embracing 2022 restaurant trends:
1. Tap Into Delivery Services
Boston Consulting Group’s food trends report found that delivery’s market share jumped from 7% in 2019 to about 20% in 2020. “Across the industry, digital ordering now represents 28% of all orders compared with 10% before the pandemic, with most brands showing increases,” the report indicates.
The convenience of food delivery apps such as GrubHub, UberEats, and DoorDash were quite popular at the height of the pandemic and remain a consumer go-to today. You can sign up for one or more of these services, but you can also set up your own delivery service through your site. A good POS system, for example will help you set up and manage online ordering, integrate delivery into your regular restaurant transactions, and manage delivery drivers.
2. Move Ahead With Ghost Kitchens
Another trend you’re seeing is the continued use of Ghost Kitchens. Running a ghost kitchen allows restaurant owners to operate with only a BOH staff, easing the stress of a labor shortage that has turned some diners away from eating out.
According to PopMenu.com, diners can also expect to see more ghost kitchens in 2022 and beyond. They are cost-effective and, as PopMenu explains, customers can order the meals they love from your kitchen, and you save money by not having to hire a full waitstaff.
Because a ghost kitchen doesn’t depend on foot traffic, they allow restaurants to expand to suburbs and smaller towns, where rent is cheaper.
Restaurant management software can help you transition from storefront to ghost kitchen, or help you manage daily operations at your currency storefront restaurant.
3. Change Up the Menu
Being homebound for so long led to an increase of families watching cooking videos on social media. As those hungry customers return to indoor and outdoor dining, they want to try all the new foods they saw online and bring some variety to their palettes. For example, according to Forbes, TikTok exposed people to new and diverse foods, citing a recent viral craze featuring “onigiri,” Japanese rice balls.
To enhance a guest experience, bring some new, eclectic ingredients into your kitchen inspired by trends on social.
Rick Camac, a hospitality expert at the Institute of Culinary Education, told Restaurant Dive that anything plant-based is going to “blow up over the next couple of years,” so you may want to consider adding “plant-pretender” menu items this year to replace the nationwide chicken and beef shortages, for instance.
4. Add Some Mac and Cheese
Speaking of changing up your menu to attract more customers, consider adding more comfort foods to your culinary offerings.
This year, says PopMenu.com, nearly half of restaurant owners and operators will place a greater emphasis on comfort food. With the stress of current events surrounding the pandemic and general uncertainty, patrons want foods that are warm, familiar, and soothing that tasty memories of simpler days.
In addition, 26% say they will offer more alcohol to go and 29% will offer outdoor dining year-round.
5. Simplify Your Menu
Labor and food shortages have inspired restaurants to limit their menu options, and according to the National Restaurant Association's annual survey of major trends, menu streamlining will likely continue through 2022 and beyond. Rick Camac of the Institute of Culinary Education told Restaurant Dive we aren’t “going back” to large, book-style menus again anytime soon, pointing out that shorter menus are more cost effective and reduce waste.
If you need assistance trimming down your menu, consider investing in a software program such as MarketMan that can help determine which menu items to keep – and which to do away with – based on POS and inventory software info.
6. Increase salaries
Finding reliable employees in 2022 will continue to be a struggle, as the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows slow gains in food services employment. That means, in order to remain open and successful, restaurant owners will need to raise wages throughout the year to attract talent. Restaurants can also use employee management software such as 7shifts to make sure employee hours are distributed evenly.
7. Use Keywords for Voice Searches
Some patrons like speaking into their phone to bring up specific searches, such as restaurants in their area. It’s common for people to use voice search to ask questions such as, “What are popular restaurants on Main Street?”
Use that knowledge to your advantage. Update your website’s wording to reflect answers to those questions so your establishment is mentioned first. For example, if someone asks, “What are popular bars in the theater district?” make sure your web copy mentions you’re a popular bar in the “theater district.”
8. Bring Back Catering
Many offices have reopened, and workers are coming back to work. If you offered catering services pre-pandemic, that’s good news. In 2022 and beyond, explore ways to bring back catering using your restaurant management tool. And make sure your menu reflects current food safety trends.
Experts have seen more boxed lunches being offered to clients vs trays of warm food, which some argue is more sanitary. Bosses may want to send their remote employees a gift of sweets or a Bento Box lunch, which is another reason why you should reintroduce catering back to eager clients.
9. Use Social Media to Your Advantage
Perks are a great way to draw in new customers and retain ones you currently have. This is where social media, and even email blasts, can play a role.
Have customers leave their email address for a free drink or dessert, or a $10 discount on their first online order. This is a great way to stand out! User-friendly POS software can help manage reward programs for your customers, and help your business run smoothly.
With that said, create a colorful and interactive Instagram or Facebook page and showcase your restaurant with glossy, professional pictures. And don’t forget to include links to those delivery apps.
Knowing what restaurant trends are current can certainly attract new customers. After that, it’s up to you to bring those customers back again and again. Serving delicious food is a must, but zeroing in on and implementing the trends that work best for your restaurant is key for consumer happiness. Implement the newest restaurant technology to make your business thrive.