5 Restaurant Trends to Watch in 2018

The driving forces behind some of the biggest restaurant trends this new year? The environment and technology.

Increasing concern about climate change means there’s a stronger focus on our collective impact on the environment. Sustainability in restaurants remains a major trend, and restaurants are going further to be environmentally responsible by working to mitigate waste and source local produce.

As the world becomes increasingly digitised and connected, restaurants are also striving for more streamlined, automated operations. And, given our social media–focused society, you can bet that restaurants are continually striving to be more Instagrammable.

Check out the restaurant trends to come in 2018:

Waste-conscious menus

Farm-to-table and sustainable cuisine have been buzz terms for years now as diners have become more concerned about where their food comes from, and its environmental impact.

“Root to stem” is the latest iteration of the movement, and it focuses on curbing food waste by using every part of produce possible. The Food Standards Agency reports that 7 million tonnes of food waste is generated in the UK every year – the majority of it still fit to eat. So to cut down on waste, many restaurants are finding ways to use every part of the produce they order in — as well as food that has already been discarded.

The Clerkenwell Kitchen has placed this mission at the heart of it’s business, working only with local, sustainable suppliers and ensuring all their meat comes from farms with high standards of animal welfare. To reduce their carbon emissions the restaurant makes many products other establishments may outsource such as jams and bread.

It’s not down to modern new arrivals to make the change, either, even the humble British pub can support this worthy cause. The Duke of Cambridge in Islington is proud to be London’s first organic pub and, having joined forces with Riverford organic farm, now has a menu of wholly organic meals. This means any produce the farm may not be able to sell can be sent to the pub kitchen to be cooked into something delicious and served to hungry patrons. Any food waste they have is made into biofuel by an anaerobic digester.

Another notable business to back the no-waste mission is Pret, the UK’s leading coffee shop chain which has, since its opening, given away all its unsold food to homeless shelters and charities. It’s a simple change that keeps the brand’s food waste minimal and has made a huge difference - to the amount of 3 million meals a year - to those in need.

Technology-driven operations

Expect automation and digitisation to take an increasingly prominent role in the restaurant world. Recently, Tossed opened the UK’s first cashless restaurant where cash tills were replaced with digital displays and card readers. Automated ordering, once considered the sort of novelty that saw the interactive tables of London restaurant Inamo enjoy a spike in visits, is also set to become more and more the norm. McDonald’s has already used it’s huge influence to make this something of a customer expectation, with many of its UK branches now using touch screen ordering.

Yes, automating these processes can help restaurant owners keep labour costs down (although there will likely be substantial investment in technology), but they also have a real upside for customers. If customers have to punch in their order directly, then mistakes are less likely (which restaurants take a loss on when they have to remake orders).

Location-based marketing

In 2018, expect more restaurants to tap into the opportunities enabled by geolocation technology to attract customers. New functionality, like Google’s announcement that restaurants can embed their menus in their search results (as opposed to just having a link), provides more opportunity to target hungry diners who are nearby.

Expect restaurants to start doing more to target nearby potential customers through social media. Location tagging on social media makes it possible to serve users ads for a limited amount of time when they are in a specific area.

Instagram-worthy food and drinks

Social media has upped the ante for restaurants as people search for more unique, beautiful and over-the-top items.

The freakshake is the perfect example of a culinary creation that became a food phenomenon thanks to social media. Originating in Australia, the sticky, gooey, super-sugary treats are now available worldwide and, with Instagram still agog over the ever-new creations restaurants are dreaming up, its seems their customer-luring power isn’t set to end just yet.

Instgrammable food and drinks can be a boon for restaurants – even if it means riding the coattails of another establishment’s creation, as social media users scramble to try the items for themselves, and document the experience, complete with all-important location tag.

Expanded pickup and delivery services

Gone are the days when takeout and delivery options were pretty much limited to Chinese food and pizza. Companies like Deliveroo and UberEATS have built their businesses on the idea that people want to eat restaurant food, but they don’t necessarily want to be at the restaurant (and they certainly don’t want to call to order).

In response to the boom in takeaway orders, restaurants are altering their processes and structures with dedicated pick up counters, fast track lanes and more. Consider starting up a take-away option yourself, even if you can’t budget for a delivery service, giving customers the opportunity to order online and pick up at your location means you’ll be on their list for quick food when they’re feeling peckish, and can help make them much more loyal customers.

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