What is the future of the restaurant industry? Square teamed up with YouGov to survey 250 Australian restaurateurs, 260 hospitality workers and 1,000 diners to provide an in-depth snapshot of the current state of the industry and what trends will define it into the future.
In an evolving landscape the focus for restaurateurs is firmly to remain resilient. Almost all of those surveyed have plans over the next year to navigate potential economic headwinds.
In the face of current challenges, such as inflation, rising costs and staff and customer retention, restaurateurs have embraced diversification and adaptability, and they have cultivated communities to sustain their businesses into the future.
Innovation has never been more important. Multihyphenate businesses are on the rise as restaurants expand their revenue streams and offerings. Restaurateurs are experimenting with fresh ways to attract new customers through collaborations, pop-ups, food and drink experiences, menu reworks and retail offerings. Businesses are becoming more agile and adaptive. They use technology to work smarter, not harder. They improve the customer experience and give time back to staff so they can deepen customer relationships.
Future of Restaurants
‘The hospitality industry has endured a few tough years, but along the way it has continued to show its creativity, innovation, and resilience in order to survive. Many operators are revisiting their toolboxes and adopting modern, integrated technology to streamline operations, from processing orders to managing loyalty programs, kitchen efficiency, scheduling shifts and more. These new challenges may be complex, but their solutions don’t have to be. It’s inspiring to see so many Australian hospitality operators taking that leap, future-proofing their businesses, building resilience and unlocking growth.’”Jean Magalhaes → Product Marketing Manager, Square for Restaurants
Multihyphenate businesses are becoming increasingly popular in Australia. Branded merchandise, food and drink experiences, takeaway meals, subscriptions, cocktail and meal kits, retail items and gift cards are among the noncore products and services that restaurants now sell.
The benefits of operating across different industries or verticals are plentiful. It attracts a broader range of customers, increases revenue streams, differentiates a business from its competitors, offers existing customers something new and has the potential to upsell them.
These initiatives go beyond traditional dining, creating unique and unforgettable experiences which help us stay competitive in the industry. We’re about to launch take-home and gift packs for our incredibly popular house-made sauces and fries seasoning. The Fricken Sauce and Satay Sauce are outselling our nearest two commercial items by more than 400%. By offering these signature sauces and seasoning as retail products, we’re enabling our customers to recreate the irresistible Fricken experience at home, thus strengthening our brand presence.”Mo → Owner, Fricken
Restaurants have become more agile in response to current challenges. Almost all restaurants surveyed have plans over the next year to navigate potential economic headwinds. Restaurateurs are reviewing their operations and assessing how to revise costs and increase profits. Some common approaches are to reduce trading hours, to overhaul menus, to negotiate costs with suppliers and to review expenses. Alongside this they explore new ways to differentiate and innovate, such as by experimenting with new ingredients and menus and by pursuing more sustainable practices. Some business owners have considered raising prices too – a move that the majority of diners would understand.
I believe limiting your views to one item or one thing actually makes you more creative. Globally there are different things wasted in different parts of the world. Rice is wasted a lot more in Asia, and in tropical countries, bananas are wasted. So we wanted to highlight the ten most wasted items in the world and then find ten unique and different ways to utilise those ingredients and release the recipes as a resource for everyone.”Matt Whiley → Owner, RE
Working smarter, not harder is the future focus for many restaurant owners. To remain resilient many restaurants have embraced time-saving practices, using tech and automation to streamline operations, to increase efficiencies, to enhance the customer experience and to give time back to their staff.
We’re a fast-paced QSR model, so we want to be efficient wherever we can. Square has streamlined the way customers order, from pickup to the kitchen operations – it flows really well.’”Nathan and Dave → Co-owners, Bao Brothers
In the current climate restaurateurs feel tech can benefit them most by offering diners a better experience, by acquiring new customers, by understanding and improving profit margins and by building a loyal customer base. Hospitality staff desire the tools to work smarter too. Those surveyed said that the most important POS features and benefits are fulfilling orders in a timely manner, making time-consuming tasks simple and increasing communication with the kitchen to minimise mistakes and tension.
I didn’t realise how integrated everything would be at Square. I saw Square had a wireless kitchen display system (KDS), so I jumped on it. We also implemented Square for Restaurants for table layouts and Square Online for online ordering and pickup. It took us two days to set up the website, complete with images and everything. It was so easy compared to other providers.”Chris Norris → Owner, Opus Coffee Brewers
With Square Kitchen Display System (KDS), you can fulfil orders efficiently from any channel in one place. It helps you connect your front and back of house seamlessly, allowing your cooks to focus on preparing the right items at the right time.
Customer loyalty can be what sustains a business, particularly in hard economic times. Engagement initiatives such as collaboration with other local businesses, social media and email marketing, community sponsorship, loyalty programs and competitions are among the strategies that restaurateurs use to cultivate a sense of community.
Fast, personalised service and a welcoming, comfortable atmosphere are the big drawcards for in-house customers. Diners noted that a venue’s speed of service and an inclusive atmosphere that creates a sense of home were important factors in whether they chose to eat or purchase something from a cafe or restaurant.
People like to feel special. Remembering names, orders, and bits about customers’ lives creates a personal connection. In our 7.5 years of operation, we have had many regulars, many who are still coming back today. They tell their friends and family, which creates an ever-expanding customer base. At the end of the day, word of mouth is still some of the best marketing for any business.”Manoli Politis → Co-owner, Butter
Email marketing is a great way to stay connected with customers. You can set up recurring and personalised automated campaigns with Square Marketing.
Square partnered with research, data and analytics group YouGov to survey Australian consumers, restaurant owners/operators and hospitality workers. They captured insights for the Square 2023 Future of Restaurants report. All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. The Square consumer study was conducted 26–28 June 2023 among a nationally representative sample of 1,010 Australians. The consumer data was weighted to ensure reliable and accurate representation of the Australian adult population, ages 18+. The Square restaurants study was conducted between 21–27 June 2023 among a sample of 252 restaurant owners and operators. The Square hospitality workers study was conducted 21–29 June 2023 among a sample of 261 hospitality workers. All three surveys were conducted online by YouGov with Australians aged 18 years and over. Significant differences between demographic groups have been reported at the 95% confidence level.