Top 15 Restaurant Trends That Will Impact Your Business in 2024

Key Takeaways

  • Discover the latest in sustainable restaurant trends: Plant-based menus are becoming increasingly popular as more people opt for vegetarian and vegan options.
  • Explore new restaurant trends: Sharing plates is gaining popularity, offering a social and interactive dining experience.
  • Restaurants with games: Incorporating games and interactive experiences to enhance the dining experience.
  • Sustainable restaurant trends: Emphasizing practices to reduce waste and promote eco-friendly operations.
  • Local sourcing: A focus on sourcing locally to support local farmers and provide fresh ingredients.

2024 Restaurant Trends: Industry Statistics & Insights into Trends and Success Factors

Unlock key industry statistics that will shape the restaurant industry in 2024 and prepare your restaurant for success. 🚀

Download Resource

In the dynamic world of the restaurant industry, constant evolution is the key to success. Whether you're a seasoned veteran or a newcomer, staying ahead of emerging restaurant trends is crucial. 

As we enter 2024, restaurant owners, operators, and managers will navigate the shifting economic environment and adapt to the rapidly changing restaurant landscape. Embracing the latest trends is not just about keeping up—it's about leading the way in an industry where innovation is the norm.

In this article, we'll delve into 15 key restaurant trends that are making waves in the industry this year. Whether it's adapting to quick service models or integrating sustainability into every aspect of operation, these shifts are more than fleeting fads—they're the future of dining.

Let's explore what's in store for the world of restaurants this year.

Changing Restaurant Dining Habits

1. Growing Trend of Plant-Based Alternatives

The global plant-based food market is projected to reach approximately $87.12 billion by 2032. The popularity of plant-based diets is here to stay as consumers embrace alternative eating choices driven by environmental considerations, health goals, and personal ethics.

Popular types of plant-based diets are:

  • Vegan
  • Vegetarian
  • Lacto-Vegetarian
  • Pescatarian
  • Flexitarian

This widespread shift in eating habits is one that restaurants will have to adapt to to meet evolving consumer preferences and stay competitive in the market. This includes offering dishes that prominently feature fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, lentils, beans, and seeds.

By incorporating these ingredients into their menus, restaurants can cater to a larger customer base and attract new customers looking for unique dining options.

2. Embracing Sharing Plates: Small and Social

The rising trend of family-style meals and shared dishes is transforming the dining landscape. This approach to communal dining involves sampling a variety of dishes, enabling guests to try multiple menu items and flavors socially and interactively. 

Sharing plates has become a popular choice for guests, as it fosters a sense of community and brings a new dynamic to dining out. This continued interest in communal dining experiences is shaping how restaurants are building their menus, with a greater emphasis on creating dishes that are ideal for sharing among groups of people. 

3. The Rise of 'Eatertainment': Restaurants with Games

Guests are not only seeking communal dining experiences through sharing plates but also through interactive games and other events. About 31% of customers have expressed an interest in game or trivia nights at their local restaurants.

Restaurants offering fun and engaging activities along with their menus are increasingly attractive to consumers who value experiences and social connections beyond just food. By hosting events that promote social interaction and communal atmospheres, restaurants can provide memorable experiences for guests.

Fuse dining and experiences with:

  • Board or virtual reality games
  • Trivia nights
  • Interactive tabletops
  • Themed dining
  • Live comedy
  • Music shows
  • Sports like bowling, golf, ping pong or pickleball
  • Arcade games

Bonus Tip: As the popularity of mocktails surges, restaurants should provide alcohol-free beverage options, catering to patrons seeking a vibrant restaurant experience complete with engaging activities and enjoyable non-alcoholic drinks.

2024 Sustainability Restaurant Trends

4. Focusing on Locally Sourced Ingredients

When it comes to sourcing ingredients for your restaurant, focusing on locally sourced options can have a significant impact on your business. When you invest in local produce, you support local businesses, guarantee fresh ingredients, and reduce the carbon footprint associated with long-distance food transport.

By using locally sourced ingredients, you also attract guests who value restaurants with sustainable practices. With 62% of diners having a preference for restaurants that offer locally sourced ingredients, that’s a large target market. 

Sizzling tip: Looking to shift to local suppliers? Read which critical questions you need to ask your food suppliers before doing business with them. 

5. Adopting Zero-Waste Inventory Management

Restaurants spend a whopping $162 billion every year on costs related to food waste. Adopting zero-waste inventory management practices is a crucial step towards reducing environmental impact, optimizing inventory usage, and improving your restaurant’s bottom line.

Minimize waste by:

  • Tracking inventory with an inventory management platform like MarketMan to identify excess inventory and prevent overordering.
  • Training staff to keep a food waste log to track spillage, preparation mistakes, and spoilage.
  • Optimizing menu items creatively to repurpose ingredients before their expiration dates.

Sizzling Tip: Read how to reduce inventory waste and maximize profit margins in your restaurant.

6. Emphasizing Sustainable Practices

Sustainability is becoming a cornerstone for restaurants seeking to align with environmentally conscious practices and consumer preferences. Beyond local sourcing and reducing food waste, restaurants can adopt other impactful strategies to further their commitment to sustainability.

These practices include:

  • Utilizing environmentally friendly cleaning supplies
  • Implementing energy-efficient lighting
  • Reducing plastic use and encouraging eco-friendly packaging
  • Adopting water-saving practices
  • Minimizing BOH use of paper 

Innovative Strategies for Standing Out in Flavor and Style

7. Restaurant Design and Layout Ideas to Watch

Designing a visually appealing, functional, and on-trend space enhances your customers' dining experience, leaves lasting impressions, and creates repeat business. 

Some areas that will witness renovations in 2024 are: 

  • Restrooms: 2024 will see a rise of upgraded luxury restrooms that include smart mirrors, contactless faucets, soap dispensers, and hand dryers, elegant and ambient lighting, high-quality finishes like marble and stone, spacious stall design, and sound systems. 
  • Private Dining: The appeal of personal dining will continue this new year as guests seek the intimacy and connectedness of at-home dining in restaurants. The emergence of these private rooms will allow guests to enjoy more exclusive, tailored dining experiences, where they can engage in personal conversations and special occasions in a cozy, secluded setting.
  • Overall style: The use of natural finishes, textures, and colors will be on the rise as restaurants embrace greenery, wood finishes, natural lighting, and earthy tones to create an inviting and calming space for guests.

8. Adapting to Reactive Seasonal Menus

Have you ever visited your favorite restaurant one season only to go back later in the year and experience different offerings? That restaurant you’re thinking about, like many others, implements seasonal menus that change with either consumer preferences, the evolution of food trends, or the availability of certain produce as the seasons change. 

Embrace the concept of seasonal menus to cater to the demand for fresh, locally sourced ingredients and provide your customers with a unique dining experience that showcases the flavors of each season. Allow chefs to test new recipes with these fresh ingredients and create new combinations of flavors to set your business apart from the competition.

Common Spring produce as listed by the USDA include:

  • Peas
  • Strawberries
  • Asparagus
  • Garlic
  • Celery

9. ​​Fusion Cuisine 

As diners increasingly crave dynamic and distinctive dining experiences, they will also seek similar adventures in flavor, desiring culinary journeys that excite and surprise their palates. Intercultural dishes that combine ingredients from diverse cultures and create unexpected flavor combinations will satisfy this crave for many patrons. 

Sizzling tip: Encourage your chefs and kitchen staff to constantly explore and experiment with new ingredients, techniques, and flavors. This will not only keep your menu fresh and exciting but also foster a culture of creativity and innovation in your restaurant. Using MarketMan’s cloud-based Cookbook, you can easily create digital recipes, get up-to-date recipe costs, and craft consistent experiences.

2024 Quick Service Restaurant Trends

10. QSR Industry Growth in Suburban Shift

In 2024, the QSR sector is expected to adjust strategically to major demographic changes, as populations increasingly move from urban centers to suburban areas. This trend, highlighted by the U.S. Census Bureau, shows a revival of suburbanization and movement out of large metropolitan areas, driven by factors that emerged during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

This demographic shift is likely to result in increased demand for dining options in suburban areas, benefiting QSRs that can offer convenience and value. Brands like Chipotle have already begun opening hundreds of locations in smaller cities as part of their continued growth strategy and have found success doing so.

11. Convenience and Value

While the inflation of ingredient costs for restaurants starts to ease this year, consumers will continue to experience price fatigue for some time. As people navigate through a period of financial uncertainty, restaurateurs should anticipate a more cautious spending approach from their consumers.

Fortunately, spending caution does not necessarily indicate less interest in restaurant dining, but rather a shift in spending amount. This means consumers budgeting their spending are most likely going to move from casual to quick-service restaurants that still offer convenience and value. This includes speed of service, drive-thrus, and mobile ordering platforms for easy access and minimal wait times.

12. QR Codes in QSRs

In 2024, as consumers increasingly seek convenience and speed in quick-service dining, contactless payments such as mobile wallets and QR codes will become essential to meet these evolving expectations.

Implement QR codes into your restaurant’s ordering process for contactless menu experiences, payment ease, and targeted marketing opportunities to drive customer satisfaction and loyalty. 

Automation Is Here to Stay in the Restaurant Industry

13. Advancing Digitalization and Online Engagement

Digitization is the name of the game in the restaurant industry in 2024. By leveraging technology and online platforms, restaurants can enhance customer experiences, streamline operations, and outpace competitors this year.

Each online interaction with your restaurant is a vital opportunity to attract new guests and cultivate loyalty among existing ones. This includes:

  • Social media engagement
  • Digital menu presentations
  • Online customer relationship management
  • Digital reservation systems
  • Text message marketing
  • In-app ordering

14. Streamlining with Contactless Ordering and Payment

Adopting contactless ordering and QR codes extends well beyond the QSR industry. A significant 65% of patrons indicate they would visit a restaurant more often if it featured self-service kiosks, and 30% express a preference for kiosk ordering over cashier interaction, even when wait times are comparable.

Leading point-of-sale systems like Toast are equipped with advanced touch-free payment and contactless table ordering technology, a key factor in enhancing guest experiences. With a noticeable increase in digital sales, the implementation of efficient systems to manage them is crucial.

15. Leveraging Data and Analytics for Business Insight

In today's digital age, without leveraging data and analytics, your restaurant business is leaving money on the table. By understanding customer behaviors, what they’re ordering, and how often, you can make data-driven decisions on how you manage inventory, place orders, build menu items, and drive profitability. 

Restaurateurs can leverage advanced automation, predictive analytics, and strategic insights offered by MarketMan’s cloud-based restaurant management software to streamline their daily operations, decrease labor costs, and gain accurate reporting to drive business growth in 2024 and beyond. Request a demo to see the platform in action.

Outlook for 2024

In 2024, the key to thriving in the restaurant industry hinges on two pivotal strategies: embracing evolving customer preferences and harnessing the power of data analytics. Whether aligning with new dining trends, refreshing your establishment's ambiance, or infusing your menu with innovative flavors, each initiative is an important step toward cementing your restaurant's success this new year.

Top 15 Restaurant Trends That Will Impact Your Business in 2024

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Key Takeaways

  • Discover the latest in sustainable restaurant trends: Plant-based menus are becoming increasingly popular as more people opt for vegetarian and vegan options.
  • Explore new restaurant trends: Sharing plates is gaining popularity, offering a social and interactive dining experience.
  • Restaurants with games: Incorporating games and interactive experiences to enhance the dining experience.
  • Sustainable restaurant trends: Emphasizing practices to reduce waste and promote eco-friendly operations.
  • Local sourcing: A focus on sourcing locally to support local farmers and provide fresh ingredients.

2024 Restaurant Trends: Industry Statistics & Insights into Trends and Success Factors

Unlock key industry statistics that will shape the restaurant industry in 2024 and prepare your restaurant for success. 🚀

Download Resource

In the dynamic world of the restaurant industry, constant evolution is the key to success. Whether you're a seasoned veteran or a newcomer, staying ahead of emerging restaurant trends is crucial. 

As we enter 2024, restaurant owners, operators, and managers will navigate the shifting economic environment and adapt to the rapidly changing restaurant landscape. Embracing the latest trends is not just about keeping up—it's about leading the way in an industry where innovation is the norm.

In this article, we'll delve into 15 key restaurant trends that are making waves in the industry this year. Whether it's adapting to quick service models or integrating sustainability into every aspect of operation, these shifts are more than fleeting fads—they're the future of dining.

Let's explore what's in store for the world of restaurants this year.

Changing Restaurant Dining Habits

1. Growing Trend of Plant-Based Alternatives

The global plant-based food market is projected to reach approximately $87.12 billion by 2032. The popularity of plant-based diets is here to stay as consumers embrace alternative eating choices driven by environmental considerations, health goals, and personal ethics.

Popular types of plant-based diets are:

  • Vegan
  • Vegetarian
  • Lacto-Vegetarian
  • Pescatarian
  • Flexitarian

This widespread shift in eating habits is one that restaurants will have to adapt to to meet evolving consumer preferences and stay competitive in the market. This includes offering dishes that prominently feature fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, lentils, beans, and seeds.

By incorporating these ingredients into their menus, restaurants can cater to a larger customer base and attract new customers looking for unique dining options.

2. Embracing Sharing Plates: Small and Social

The rising trend of family-style meals and shared dishes is transforming the dining landscape. This approach to communal dining involves sampling a variety of dishes, enabling guests to try multiple menu items and flavors socially and interactively. 

Sharing plates has become a popular choice for guests, as it fosters a sense of community and brings a new dynamic to dining out. This continued interest in communal dining experiences is shaping how restaurants are building their menus, with a greater emphasis on creating dishes that are ideal for sharing among groups of people. 

3. The Rise of 'Eatertainment': Restaurants with Games

Guests are not only seeking communal dining experiences through sharing plates but also through interactive games and other events. About 31% of customers have expressed an interest in game or trivia nights at their local restaurants.

Restaurants offering fun and engaging activities along with their menus are increasingly attractive to consumers who value experiences and social connections beyond just food. By hosting events that promote social interaction and communal atmospheres, restaurants can provide memorable experiences for guests.

Fuse dining and experiences with:

  • Board or virtual reality games
  • Trivia nights
  • Interactive tabletops
  • Themed dining
  • Live comedy
  • Music shows
  • Sports like bowling, golf, ping pong or pickleball
  • Arcade games

Bonus Tip: As the popularity of mocktails surges, restaurants should provide alcohol-free beverage options, catering to patrons seeking a vibrant restaurant experience complete with engaging activities and enjoyable non-alcoholic drinks.

2024 Sustainability Restaurant Trends

4. Focusing on Locally Sourced Ingredients

When it comes to sourcing ingredients for your restaurant, focusing on locally sourced options can have a significant impact on your business. When you invest in local produce, you support local businesses, guarantee fresh ingredients, and reduce the carbon footprint associated with long-distance food transport.

By using locally sourced ingredients, you also attract guests who value restaurants with sustainable practices. With 62% of diners having a preference for restaurants that offer locally sourced ingredients, that’s a large target market. 

Sizzling tip: Looking to shift to local suppliers? Read which critical questions you need to ask your food suppliers before doing business with them. 

5. Adopting Zero-Waste Inventory Management

Restaurants spend a whopping $162 billion every year on costs related to food waste. Adopting zero-waste inventory management practices is a crucial step towards reducing environmental impact, optimizing inventory usage, and improving your restaurant’s bottom line.

Minimize waste by:

  • Tracking inventory with an inventory management platform like MarketMan to identify excess inventory and prevent overordering.
  • Training staff to keep a food waste log to track spillage, preparation mistakes, and spoilage.
  • Optimizing menu items creatively to repurpose ingredients before their expiration dates.

Sizzling Tip: Read how to reduce inventory waste and maximize profit margins in your restaurant.

6. Emphasizing Sustainable Practices

Sustainability is becoming a cornerstone for restaurants seeking to align with environmentally conscious practices and consumer preferences. Beyond local sourcing and reducing food waste, restaurants can adopt other impactful strategies to further their commitment to sustainability.

These practices include:

  • Utilizing environmentally friendly cleaning supplies
  • Implementing energy-efficient lighting
  • Reducing plastic use and encouraging eco-friendly packaging
  • Adopting water-saving practices
  • Minimizing BOH use of paper 

Innovative Strategies for Standing Out in Flavor and Style

7. Restaurant Design and Layout Ideas to Watch

Designing a visually appealing, functional, and on-trend space enhances your customers' dining experience, leaves lasting impressions, and creates repeat business. 

Some areas that will witness renovations in 2024 are: 

  • Restrooms: 2024 will see a rise of upgraded luxury restrooms that include smart mirrors, contactless faucets, soap dispensers, and hand dryers, elegant and ambient lighting, high-quality finishes like marble and stone, spacious stall design, and sound systems. 
  • Private Dining: The appeal of personal dining will continue this new year as guests seek the intimacy and connectedness of at-home dining in restaurants. The emergence of these private rooms will allow guests to enjoy more exclusive, tailored dining experiences, where they can engage in personal conversations and special occasions in a cozy, secluded setting.
  • Overall style: The use of natural finishes, textures, and colors will be on the rise as restaurants embrace greenery, wood finishes, natural lighting, and earthy tones to create an inviting and calming space for guests.

8. Adapting to Reactive Seasonal Menus

Have you ever visited your favorite restaurant one season only to go back later in the year and experience different offerings? That restaurant you’re thinking about, like many others, implements seasonal menus that change with either consumer preferences, the evolution of food trends, or the availability of certain produce as the seasons change. 

Embrace the concept of seasonal menus to cater to the demand for fresh, locally sourced ingredients and provide your customers with a unique dining experience that showcases the flavors of each season. Allow chefs to test new recipes with these fresh ingredients and create new combinations of flavors to set your business apart from the competition.

Common Spring produce as listed by the USDA include:

  • Peas
  • Strawberries
  • Asparagus
  • Garlic
  • Celery

9. ​​Fusion Cuisine 

As diners increasingly crave dynamic and distinctive dining experiences, they will also seek similar adventures in flavor, desiring culinary journeys that excite and surprise their palates. Intercultural dishes that combine ingredients from diverse cultures and create unexpected flavor combinations will satisfy this crave for many patrons. 

Sizzling tip: Encourage your chefs and kitchen staff to constantly explore and experiment with new ingredients, techniques, and flavors. This will not only keep your menu fresh and exciting but also foster a culture of creativity and innovation in your restaurant. Using MarketMan’s cloud-based Cookbook, you can easily create digital recipes, get up-to-date recipe costs, and craft consistent experiences.

2024 Quick Service Restaurant Trends

10. QSR Industry Growth in Suburban Shift

In 2024, the QSR sector is expected to adjust strategically to major demographic changes, as populations increasingly move from urban centers to suburban areas. This trend, highlighted by the U.S. Census Bureau, shows a revival of suburbanization and movement out of large metropolitan areas, driven by factors that emerged during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

This demographic shift is likely to result in increased demand for dining options in suburban areas, benefiting QSRs that can offer convenience and value. Brands like Chipotle have already begun opening hundreds of locations in smaller cities as part of their continued growth strategy and have found success doing so.

11. Convenience and Value

While the inflation of ingredient costs for restaurants starts to ease this year, consumers will continue to experience price fatigue for some time. As people navigate through a period of financial uncertainty, restaurateurs should anticipate a more cautious spending approach from their consumers.

Fortunately, spending caution does not necessarily indicate less interest in restaurant dining, but rather a shift in spending amount. This means consumers budgeting their spending are most likely going to move from casual to quick-service restaurants that still offer convenience and value. This includes speed of service, drive-thrus, and mobile ordering platforms for easy access and minimal wait times.

12. QR Codes in QSRs

In 2024, as consumers increasingly seek convenience and speed in quick-service dining, contactless payments such as mobile wallets and QR codes will become essential to meet these evolving expectations.

Implement QR codes into your restaurant’s ordering process for contactless menu experiences, payment ease, and targeted marketing opportunities to drive customer satisfaction and loyalty. 

Automation Is Here to Stay in the Restaurant Industry

13. Advancing Digitalization and Online Engagement

Digitization is the name of the game in the restaurant industry in 2024. By leveraging technology and online platforms, restaurants can enhance customer experiences, streamline operations, and outpace competitors this year.

Each online interaction with your restaurant is a vital opportunity to attract new guests and cultivate loyalty among existing ones. This includes:

  • Social media engagement
  • Digital menu presentations
  • Online customer relationship management
  • Digital reservation systems
  • Text message marketing
  • In-app ordering

14. Streamlining with Contactless Ordering and Payment

Adopting contactless ordering and QR codes extends well beyond the QSR industry. A significant 65% of patrons indicate they would visit a restaurant more often if it featured self-service kiosks, and 30% express a preference for kiosk ordering over cashier interaction, even when wait times are comparable.

Leading point-of-sale systems like Toast are equipped with advanced touch-free payment and contactless table ordering technology, a key factor in enhancing guest experiences. With a noticeable increase in digital sales, the implementation of efficient systems to manage them is crucial.

15. Leveraging Data and Analytics for Business Insight

In today's digital age, without leveraging data and analytics, your restaurant business is leaving money on the table. By understanding customer behaviors, what they’re ordering, and how often, you can make data-driven decisions on how you manage inventory, place orders, build menu items, and drive profitability. 

Restaurateurs can leverage advanced automation, predictive analytics, and strategic insights offered by MarketMan’s cloud-based restaurant management software to streamline their daily operations, decrease labor costs, and gain accurate reporting to drive business growth in 2024 and beyond. Request a demo to see the platform in action.

Outlook for 2024

In 2024, the key to thriving in the restaurant industry hinges on two pivotal strategies: embracing evolving customer preferences and harnessing the power of data analytics. Whether aligning with new dining trends, refreshing your establishment's ambiance, or infusing your menu with innovative flavors, each initiative is an important step toward cementing your restaurant's success this new year.

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