Diving Into Restaurant Trends in 2022
For the last two years, restaurant owners have been forced to constantly adapt on the fly due to the pandemic. As the effects of COVID-19 begin to subside, restauranteurs need to begin planning proactively instead of reacting out of necessity to stay ahead. How do they do that? By investing in these up-and-coming trends that experts are predicting will influence the restaurant industry in 2022.
New Partnerships, Co-Branding
One of the biggest trends in 2021 was ghost kitchens. Even if you haven’t heard this term, more than likely you’ve come across a living example (no pun intended) at some point over the last year. The term “ghost kitchen” refers to a restaurant that has forgone its dining area and become delivery-only. While this helped keep costs down by reducing staff and overhead, going ghost didn’t prove well for some. For those that didn’t fare as well, there may be an alternative. This year experts are predicting that many restaurants will form partnerships with other full-serve restaurants to host their kitchen and sell their brand. A prime example of this is Famous Dave’s BBQ which cobranded with the Italian restaurant chain, Johnny Carino’s back in 2020 and has shown significant success with the partnership. We expect to see many other restaurants take note of this successful co-branding partnership in 2022.
Robots and Automation
We’ve been seeing an increase in demand for restaurant-specific robots since the big “I quit” movement that was created in response to the pandemic in 2020. The Great Resignation caused a turmoil effect on hiring and retaining quality workers in the restaurant industry. We predict that this turn to robotics and other automated processes will continue to take precedent over finding ways to entice workers to come on board and stay. Technologies like self-ordering kiosks, automated coffee ordering systems, and artificial intelligence in the drive-thru are already being implemented in restaurants every day.
Consumers are beginning to take a more head-on approach to reduce their carbon footprint which means more sustainable food choices are top of mind. This has led to the plant-based food surge, and we don’t expect this trend to go away anytime soon. If you plan on staying ahead of the competition, finding your way into this niche of meatless meat options is your golden ticket to appealing to the masses again. And don’t even get us started on the potato milk craze.
In keeping with the sustainability trend, we expect to see more demand for environmentally friendly containers and utensils in the to-go sector. While those biodegradable straws can be annoying to drink out of (in my opinion), they are making headway in reducing the amount of plastic that gets thrown away daily in the U.S. The same goes for recyclable to-go containers and reusable supplies. Every little effort and every minor change may not seem like a big deal, but it really is. Consumers are taking note of this and will continue to demand that restaurants take on a more environmentally conscious role.
Out With Curbside, In With Personal Pickups
Do you remember when the curbside concept seemed genius for sit-down restaurants without a drive-thru? Well, those days are past us. Due to workforce shortages and rampant turnover, curbside is now seen as a hindrance since it requires yet another dedicated employee to run out the orders and collect payments. We’re expecting curbside will be kicked to the curb and personal pickup lockers with prepaid orders taking its place. KFC, Burger King, and Smashburger have already implemented this type of food pickup service and many more are expected to move toward this trend in 2022.
Over the last few years, the trend toward limited menus has been on the rise, and we don’t expect it to go away anytime soon. Restaurants that used to boast about their generous assortment of menu options are now realizing that large menus are more of a hindrance than an advantage. Limiting the menu will not only allow restaurants to lower supply costs but also focus on making each dish with quality ingredients and efficiency. It’s a great way for restaurants to adjust to the recent inflation hikes without having to compromise on their most popular menu items.
Is your restaurant ready to make big changes in 2022 to keep pace with popular trends? If so, we’ve got your back. We’ve been lending to restaurants for over 20 years. Even during the pandemic when other lenders said no, ARF was there to help clients financially weather the storm. Let us help you capitalize on growth trends will bring the highest return for your business by contacting your local loan consultant today!