As we look back at 2017 and everything we have accomplished, it’s time to look forward to the New Year. Although some past trends are still on the radar, there are a handful of new ideas out there for you to take advantage of in 2018. National Restaurant News has highlighted a number of these trends that are predicted to pop-up in restaurants across the country in the upcoming year. Amongst them, many offer more of a contemporary take on traditional menu items. In an ever-evolving world of social media, it is now just as important to focus on the dining experience, as it is on the meal itself. Let’s take a look at some of our favorite trends expected to make an impact in the New Year.
In recent years, the idea of offering a fine-dining experience in casual restaurants is something that many establishments have implemented for their customers. Think of introducing upscale counter & table service, in addition to adding curated ingredients and unexpected touches to your dishes. Striving to provide high-quality service in an inviting setting is something that is very important in creating this type of dining experience, but is often overlooked. Fine-casual dining encompasses a mixture of high quality food and atmosphere, accented by the cost effectiveness of a fast casual or quick service restaurant. By developing this unique dining experience for your customers, it will create something for them to talk about aside from the delicious meals you prepare for them. This type of dining experience is a perfect trend to follow if you are looking to appeal more to Millennials, and has been employed by restaurants such as Shake Shack.
With the rise of social media, many customers are looking to post about their experiences for the world to see. Making a good impression is always important regarding social media. Featuring photo-friendly food will leave your customers pleased and allow them to really WOW their followers. Menus offering contemporary takes on nostalgic items such as meatloaf, potato tots, and even edible cookie dough are increasingly showing up in restaurants across the country. Providing your diners with elaborate, but affordable meals can make a huge impact on your customer’s satisfaction and lead to some free publicity for your featured dishes.
Among trends that have remained the same, offering healthier and vegetarian menu options is something that has been consistently on the radar over the last few years. Don’t be afraid to experiment by offering appetizers and entrées that may seem to be a little outside the box. Many restaurants have found success in placing more emphasis on vegetarian-friendly menu items such as Cauliflower Wings, Jackfruit Tacos, and different styles of pizza. Although it may not be always considered as a healthy option, pizza’s versatility might just be its most important quality, as many chefs have found a way to create healthier and vegetarian-friendly variations of this traditional favorite.
The idea of farm-to-table drinks has also been noted as a current trend in restaurants worldwide. Recently, high-end, health-centered drink creations have become increasingly popular. These drinks can be made in-house with fresh, seasonal produce and fruits, which will allow you to offer diners with delicious and delightful drink options that vary from the traditional non-alcoholic options. On the other hand, many of these drink creations can also be used as a fun way to introduce healthier options to your cocktail menu.
Adaptive kid’s menus are also a popular trend for 2018. We’ve come to a time where the traditional children’s menu just doesn’t always suffice for Millenials. We are seeing more and more new menu options for children that are inspired by menu entrées and other featured items. Stand out from the pack by offering a more contemporary children’s menu using gourmet ingredients, adding a twist to your traditional menu items. Featured items such as sushi and tacos have been noted as being increasingly popular.
Although traditional options are always popular and seem to continue to be trendy for years, look to feature menu items inspired from different cultures. Asian Island cuisine has been noted as a popular trend for the New Year. With inspiration from Thai, Filipino, Indonesian, and Malaysian backgrounds, you can look to offer traditional meals with an exotic twist. Some delicious menu options include Pad Thai and stir-fry dishes that are easy and often very affordable.
Another trend that has been on the rise recently is Street Food-Inspired Appetizers. Popular across many different cultures, there are various options to spice up your menu, and entice your customers with a charming take on some street food favorites such as: tempura, kabobs, tacos, and dumplings. Offering these favorites will provide your customers with tasty dishes inspired by culinary trends popular around the world.
We hope this article has prepared you for some of the rising trends in 2018. As you can see, it’s clear that 2018 has a lot in store for the food service industry and the food community at large. For more information on these trends and more click here.
*This blog was written by our Winter Marketing Intern, Timothy Barbolish.