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5 Trends That Will Shape the Restaurant Industry in 2021

June 01, 2020

Savvy restaurant owners have always looked to future trends to help their establishments stay ahead of the curve. With these ever-changing times, clueing into trends is even more crucial for a profitable business model. 

What will the future of restaurants look like in the next year? How can your establishment stay cutting-edge now and in 2021? 

Get tips on emerging trends from our wholesale food store and restaurant supply company.



Restaurant Industry Trends to Expect in 2021

Even though the trajectory of restaurant trends can be hard to predict, some have been gaining serious momentum in the past few years and are expected to continue. Check out these five significant industry trends to help you ready your restaurant for the future. 

1. Food and Meal Delivery is Here to Stay

As COVID-19 continues to affect the restaurant industry, no-contact meals are a necessity. Even when restaurants can once again open their doors, there could be capacity restrictions and customers could be wary to eat out. Plan to accommodate low-contact and no-contact meals in 2021. 

Coming up with a plan to create or expand to-go menus will help your restaurant remain relevant in the year to come. Keep these key strategies in mind for menu development:

  • Plan menus that are pick-up and delivery efficient. How well can your meals travel? Are they easy to execute from a kitchen labor standpoint? Come up with savvy solutions to make your existing menu to-go friendly, like this french fry hack
  • Don't be afraid to pivot your menu concepts. Restaurants around the country are shifting their menus to preserve profits. Is your restaurant known for your high-end steaks? Consider an elevated breakfast sandwich as a play on steak and eggs. 
  • Listen to the needs of your community. Re-evaluate your menu based on customer demand.Meal kits have been taking off in recent years among millennials, Gen Xers, and baby boomers. 

2. Restaurants Will Embrace Pop-Ups and Party Vibes

This is the moment the entire restaurant industry is waiting for: full-service dining in a completely safe environment. Though when this may happen is unknown, there are a few trends that are predicted to take hold:

  • Pop-ups known for innovative cuisine, eclectic locations, and community focus, are expected to, well, start popping up everywhere! These establishments are ideal for restaurateurs post-COVID-19 due to their low overhead and minimal food waste.
  • Eatertainment concepts, especially nostalgic and retro themes like disco or anything with a fun party vibe.

 3. Highlight Health with Wholesale Produce

Even before COVID-19, customers were showing interest in innovative, healthy cuisine. Last year, menu trends embraced plant-based dishesbioactive ingredients like mushrooms, and probiotic rich fermented foods. With the pandemic still present in our communities, we can expect to see a rise in menus that focus on food as wellness.

Wholesale Produce is trending, especially for health conscious items.

Think ingredients that help boost the immune system, stabilize mood, and reduce stress: 

  • Whole foods like fresh produce, legumes, whole grains, and seeds. For a menu idea, create your own plant-based burger.
  • Immune boosting ingredients high in Vitamin C, E, and Zinc. Pro tip: Broccoli is packed full of essential vitamins and minerals. 
  • Serotonin enhancing foods that contain tryptophan like turkey, eggs, and tofu. Why not add a turkey meatloaf for a comfort food item?
  • Integrate the gut-brain axis with fermented foods like kimchi and sauerkraut. Pro tip:fermenting extends the life of your produce, which helps with food costs. 

4.  Around the World On a Plate

Restaurant owners know food isn't strictly about substance. It can create feelings of nostalgia and evoke emotional responses. Cuisine can connect us to our families, communities, and to cultures around the world. A restaurant trend we are sure to see is a focus on global cuisine. 

We might not be able to physically journey abroad by plane, but we can travel via the plate. Connection and comfort can be expressed through global-inspired dishes that tell a story. Some enticing trends on the horizon are:

  • Quick and easy street food from around the world. 
  • Hearty peasant foods with simple, affordable ingredients. 
  • Breakfast comfort dishes like shakshuka, porridge, and pastries.

Around the world on a plate.

Tap into your personal history or recall your favorite travel destination for menu inspiration. Missing your yearly travel to Mardi Gras? Utilize wholesale global meats and seafood to craft an innovative lamb and uncured sausage gumbo. Why not create your own unique bulk spice mixes to infuse global flavors into your dishes? Get creative and let your menu tell a story. 

5. Brand Expansion Through Retail

In recent years, independent restaurants have embraced retail components to drive sales and increase their brand. While most restaurant owners won't need to go full-scale retail, offering up some unique items to purchase can enhance the customer experience. 

Have a signature salsa that your patrons can't get enough of? Why not bottle and sell it? Known for your wine list? Have wine keys with your logo available for purchase. Have a global-inspired menu? Create a street market vibe in your restaurant where you can offer anything from sauces, to spice mixtures, to intriguing produce. 

While it could be a while before you can bring your retail concept into your dining room, now is a perfect time to test the market. If you are currently offering pick-up or delivery items, why not experiment with simple, cost effective retail items? When dining rooms open again, you'll have your strategy in place. 

Ready Your Restaurant for the Future with Our Wholesale Restaurant and Food Supply Company

US Foods CHEF'STORE provides our culinary partners with cost-effective, exceptional products. We take our customers' needs seriously, so we've developed safe shopping and delivery practices. 

Take advantage of our Click&Carry service, which allows for easy online ordering and quick pick-up. You can also place a delivery order through Instacart and Shipt. For even more culinary perks, like order tracking, sign up for an account with us today. 

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