Peering Into the Crystal Ball: Five Restaurant Trends to Watch for 2016

After nearly two decades of working closely with restaurant and bar clients across the country and around the world, we find ourselves picking up insights from top hospitality industry players. So with 2016 off to a fast start, here are the five trends we’re watching this year.

Food Safety

Businesses large and small rely on supply-chain security to ensure safety. Following best food-handling practices is more important than ever. (Chipotle’s struggles are Exhibit One.) The growing demand for locally-sourced produce and meat places additional responsibility on restaurateurs to take all necessary steps to make sure that they are serving not only delicious meals, but ones that are properly sourced and prepared. We believe that the “Chipotle Effect” will continue focusing consumer attention on this issue – and that restaurants will work hard to reassure them.



QSR Innovation and What It Means

Whether it’s reconfigured Value Meal choices or the very successful all-day breakfast offerings under the Golden Arches, quick-serve-restaurants are continuing to innovate to meet the marketplace challenges of fast-casual enterprises. Operators of all sizes need to pay attention to what these huge players are doing and what’s working for them. Even small businesses can learn from their pricing and service offerings, either to adopt the same innovations or to come up with new ideas to counteract them.


Tipping Point for No Tipping?

The pay disparity between front and back-of-house staff, particularly in the big cities, has reached a tipping point. Impresario Danny Meyer announced late last year that his Union Square Hospitality restaurants would begin phasing in a no-tipping policy, to even out the playing field of its chefs and servers. But will diners be willing to accept higher prices in return for no tips required? We’re going to be closely following how this plays out.


Traditional Advertising Declines, CRM and Social Media Gain

Newspaper ads, radio spots, and other traditional advertising tactics will continue to decline in effectiveness, as customers increasingly migrate to self-selected social media channels. For hospitality businesses, this means online pay-per-click ad campaigns, enhanced Facebook, Twitter, and Yelp activity, and more refined leveraging of in-house databases will continue to expand. Check out these helpful tips and issues to watch for if you’re looking to ramp up your social media efforts.


Data Security

With everyone from Target to the U.S. government falling prey to hackers, it’s essential for all businesses to take steps to safeguard the credit card data of their customers. Trust remains paramount – from what’s on the plate to what’s in the system. (Read more about our position on data security in point-of-sale systems.)


Photo credit: Leigh Blackall