It is no news that a lot of things have changed since the pandemic. We are all getting used to a “new normal.” However, this new normal means different things for different people, communities, and industries.
For the restaurant industry, restaurateurs around the globe made several innovative changes as a response to the challenges that came with the pandemic. These changes mainly were an attempt to ensure that customers get better services while the business remains profitable. Some of these transformations worked great! And the others? Not so well.
If you are here, you probably want to know which new restaurant trends are worth it. At Simpay, our dedication is to make business operations a lot easier, seamless, and profitable. With that in mind, we have combed the industry to find the top ten restaurant trends that could be of the most benefit to your restaurant post-COVID.
Below are some trends that are fast becoming the new normal for full-service and limited-service restaurants.
1) Higher Hygiene and Sanitation Standards
Even if your restaurant has always maintained good hygiene and sanitation practices, you still need to take it up a notch. More importantly, your customers should be aware of your efforts to ensure their wellness is a priority at your restaurant.
Restaurants that are transparent and emphasize sanitation measures, hygienic standards, and providing the best working conditions for their staff are more popular amongst customers.
2) Off-premise Services
Shutdowns during the pandemic put a lot of restaurants, especially full-service restaurants, out of business for a while. To get back on track, restaurants started shifting towards off-premise services.
This meant that takeout, curbside delivery, ghost kitchens, food trucks, home delivery, etc., became more popular and convenient for customers. Studies show that over 80% of customers prefer takeout and other off-premise services.
3) Stronger Online Presence
It doesn’t matter whether you are running a mom-and-pop restaurant by a street corner or a branch of some big restaurant franchise. Customers want online access to everything – menus, reviews, real-time inquiries, online ordering, and booking reservations.
If you want to stay ahead of the game, you should consider boosting your online presence significantly. Respond to customer reviews and ensure your menus always correspond with what you have available in your kitchen.
4) Have a Delivery Service
If you run a small business, set up a delivery service that delivers ordered food to your customers. However, if you can’t, the next best thing is to partner with an efficient delivery service provider.
Truthfully, most small restaurants are finding it difficult to do either. On the one hand, setup costs seem high. On the other hand, most delivery partners charge fees that cut deep into profits, making them seem insignificant despite increased sales. It is better to enter into a contract with a delivery service provider that considers your restaurant as its partner to reach optimal sales and profits.
One of the best tricks to maximizing a food delivery service is to ensure that you have a POS system that seamlessly integrates with all delivery apps, including GrubHub, Uber Eats, etc. This helps you cut costs and makes the food delivery process much smoother.
5) Minimizing Contact and Offering Contactless Options
There are lots of advantages to this consideration. First, with COVID-19 and its variants still lingering, customers and employees have become more health-conscious. Second, restaurants and drive-throughs are embracing fast-emerging technologies to limit contact, speed up processes, and ensure maximum convenience and user experience.
You surely don’t want to be left behind. Think QR-coded menus, mobile payment systems, contactless card readers, single-use paper menus, and protective materials (face masks, sneeze guards, gloves, etc.). These are sure to keep your employees happy, attract customers and keep them coming back whether you are running a fine dining restaurant, sit-down restaurant, diner, pizzeria, or pub.
6) Instagram-worthy Food
What does food have to do with Instagram? A lot. Take a quick random scroll through Instagram, and it won’t be long before you have food pictures all over your screen. There are over half a billion food hashtag (#food) posts on Instagram, and the numbers increased dramatically during the pandemic.
There are two things involved: 1.) restaurants were partnering with local influencers to snap and post their food pictures on Instagram and 2.) people have been on their phones more often checking out restaurants that had their “fine” delicacies posted on the platform.
Food-focused social media is here to stay. Pretty serveware sets and photographed appetizing dishes will keep being a trend for a very long time. And yes, people will always want to check out the restaurants serving the delicious delicacies they saw on social media.
7) Slimmer Menus
The era of long menus might be coming to an end. Restaurants are realizing that it is more profitable to stay true to small menus consisting of delicacies they are good at. This works three ways for the restaurants:
- Customers know and appreciate the restaurants for their specialty – they are easily satisfied.
- For small restaurants, the smaller the inventory, the easier the management of the restaurant.
- Employees are less stressed, find more comfort at the job, and stay longer.
Take charge of your best menu options and make them your identity. Do away with those items that have inconsistent results or make your customers complain.
8) Some Groceries and Alcoholic Beverages To-go
At first read, you might think this sounds off – but it is not! The National Restaurant Association conducted a survey to know what appeals most to restaurant customers during the pandemic. The survey found that a third of off-premise adult customers opted for an alcoholic beverage alongside their orders since the pandemic started. And they intend to keep doing so in the future.
More than 50% of the respondents said they would buy groceries from their restaurants if they were available. Listed groceries include dairy, produce, pasta, bread, meat, and a few other fresh, uncooked food items.
9) Healthy, Organic Foods on the Menu
Consumers have become more health-conscious than ever before, and they are looking for nutritious meals that will help them get and stay healthy.
Offering healthy food from ethically raised and produced ingredients helps people stay fit and healthy. When you take this step, don’t be shy about letting the world know. Announce it on your website, social media handles, and put out a sign to inform consumers passing by. This step will help attract more customers and increase your profit margin.
10) Go Tech with Restaurant Management Solutions
Small, medium and larger franchise restaurants are going smart with restaurant management solutions, such as POS software, credit card processors, employee management solutions, and growth tools. The benefits are endless, and restaurants are keying into these solutions to make their operations more effortless and profitable.
These solutions can help you go contactless, ensure customer convenience and satisfaction, improve digital presence, manage your inventories better, boost customer and employee loyalty, increase profits, and become more cost-efficient.
Simpay provides these and many more tech solutions that can make your restaurant stay ahead with the industry trends today and in the future. Are you ready for the future of restaurants post-COVID era? Contact us now to learn more.