Trends that will Shape the Restaurant Industry in 2021

The hotel industry is poised to change, especially after 2020, which posed a challenge for many restaurant operators and customers. Experts expect that digital technology will play a critical role in creating value addition, and restaurateurs should embrace innovations to accelerate sales and increase customer satisfaction, especially with the dining room restrictions imposed after the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. For restaurants without drive-thrus, curbsides have become a powerful digital tool, especially for small eateries, and many restaurants are expected to embrace this trend in 2021.

According to data from the National Restaurant Association, more than 80% of adults now prefer dining outside the restaurant’s premises, up from 45% before the pandemic. Restaurateurs have now opted to relocate to remote locations, work with third-party aggregators, and operate ghost kitchens to cut labor costs and meet off-premise demand to retain customers.

Read more on the trends that are predicted to shape the restaurant industry in 2021.

Contactless Ordering and Delivery

Safety is critical in the restaurant industry. With the pandemic, restaurants need to invest in contactless technology to adhere to the changing safety regulations and enhance customer experience. This technology includes contactless payments and ordering, such as QR code menus and touchless payments. It’s estimated that by the end of 2021, three-quarters of restaurants in the United States and other parts of the world will be using this technology in their day-to-day operations.

A Shift of Focus from Urban to Suburbs

With many restaurants closed, restaurateurs are now shifting from urban areas to the suburbs, where the cost of operation, such as rent and labor, is lower. Many chain stores are also closing underperforming outlets. Chain restaurants including Burger King, Del Taco, McDonald’s, and Taco Bell have said that they are looking for restaurants with large drive-thrus and smaller dining areas.

Kitchen Automation

With restaurants experimenting with new menus, channels, and offers, it’s essential for restaurants to streamline the kitchen to consistently deliver and improve on customer experience. Many restaurants are planning or have already invested in kitchen automation technology, which has helped streamline the kitchen, meaning that restaurant owners can now test new concepts with freedom and confidence. Equipped and streamlined kitchens have allowed restaurateurs to try several restaurant concepts simultaneously and choose one that works best for their restaurant with ease.

More Direct Deliveries

In 2021, we will see more restaurants taking charge of online orders and deliveries instead of relying on third parties, which will help them enhance customer experience. Most customers now prefer ordering directly from the restaurant’s app or website, eliminating third parties. This means that restaurants will invest more in their own couriers, resulting in more control over how they engage with their customers.

Ways to Prepare Your Restaurant for Reopening After the Covid-19 Pandemic

Restaurants in the country and many parts of the world have largely remained closed to combat the spread of the coronavirus. Though some have reopened offering takeaways and deliveries, dining spaces remain empty as hotel owners eagerly wait for the lifting of these restrictions so that they can resume full-service operations.

Some states in the United States are slowly lifting these restrictions, with some restaurants being allowed to open their doors again under strict conditions. However, this does not mean that everything will be immediately back to normal. Reopening your restaurant will require proper planning. This article will guide you through the steps to follow to ensure that the restaurant is up and running within the shortest time possible.

Understand the Restrictions in Your State

Before thinking or planning for reopening, you must first understand the restrictions of your locality. The federal government has issued guidelines on reopening restaurants; individual counties and states have been mandated to come up with their regulation, especially when it comes to dining. Most of these restrictions and conditions revolve around keeping physical distance and capacity. In most states, restaurants are allowed to have a maximum capacity of between 25%-50%, which may be a challenge for small restaurants. Establishments with a larger sitting capacity need to consider if the limited capacity will generate more revenue than deliveries and take-aways.

Staffing Adjustment

Reopening restaurants allows those employees who had been laid off or granted leave to come back to work; which may require staff adjustments. For example, some employees may not be willing or able to return to work immediately, while others may have found new jobs. Before reopening, spare some time to contact past employees and find out if they are ready to come back to work and, if necessary, be prepared to hire new staff members.

Communicate with Vendors

Since restaurants have been closed for some time during the pandemic, it’s evident that the fridges are empty. As many restaurants will also be reopening, you must start communicating with vendors in advance to avoid last-minute disappointments. The restaurant will not be fully functional immediately; hence you should consider adjusting and re-evaluating the contract with your suppliers if necessary.

Restaurant Takeout and Delivery Tips

The Covid-19 pandemic has inspired restaurants to be more innovative to help increase their chances of remaining afloat. Some restaurants have been inspired to launch take-out and delivery services, while those that already had these options needed to be accessible to customers through other digital channels. With restaurants investing and putting more effort into delivery and takeaway options, here are tips on how restaurants can optimize take-outs and delivery services.

Set Up an Outdoor Waiting Area

If operating in an urban area where customers will not drive through the restaurant, ensure you set up an outdoor waiting area where people can sit as they wait for their order. The chairs should be sanitized regularly and placed about six meters apart to ensure that social distance is maintained.

Limit Contact

To prevent the spread of germs, restaurateurs should try and ensure that customers do not touch items, such as menus or sauce bottles, when at the restaurant. Digital menus or chalkboards can be used to enable customers to check out the available options. The doors should be left open during hours of operation to ensure customers do not touch them when walking in and out.

Provide Drivers with the Right Equipment

Delivery drivers should be provided with the right equipment, such as gloves and hand sanitizers, when making deliveries to ensure that the food is safe. To facilitate contactless deliveries, customers should be encouraged to leave special instructions on where the food should be left when delivered.

Encourage Contactless Payments

Customers should be encouraged to make online payments through third-party apps or on the website so that you don’t have to handle cash. On-site payments can be made through Apple Pay or credit card.

Why Food Images are Important for a Restaurant’s Menu

Adding beautiful images can make a difference to diners, as the menu connects customers to a restaurant. With the food business and restaurants facing a complete shutdown due to the effects of the Covid pandemic, many players in the industry are now banking on technology to secure more orders and maintain their customer base. Here are some ways of how food images are helping restaurants increase sales.

Beat Competitors Text-Based Menus

According to a research report released by Iowa State University, around 70% of people ordering food from restaurants respond to the food images as if the food is in front of them. This means that if you sell the same food as your competitors, most customers will likely order from your restaurant if they see pictures of your food items.

Help Customers Make Informed Choices

Having images of the food you serve on your digital menu is essential as it helps customers make a well-informed and quick purchase. If you have not budgeted for professional shots, you can use your smartphone to take the pictures.

When purchasing an online ordering system, choose one that supports menu pictures and allows multiple image uploading without slowing down the website.

Types and Categories of Menus

Most people view menus as a price list of food items offered to customers. However, for a restaurateur, a menu is a powerful tool, as it’s a gateway to identity, personality, and brand value. Menus are of different types and categories in the food and hospitality industry depending on the food service operator. Here are the different types and categories on restaurant menus.

Cycle Menus

Cycle menus are mostly used by non-commercial food operators who regularly serve the same group of customers, such as schools, healthcare, and corporate dining, including industry and businesses. Operators should set the length of the cycle of the menu with the customer in mind. For example, for restaurants serving customers in the healthcare industry, the cycle should be short since most patients spend five to seven days at the facility.

Static Menus

Static menus are ideal for casual and quick-service restaurants that serve the same type of food every day. These menus are presented on boards or printed paper, in most cases laminated for easy cleaning and passed to the customer when they check-in.

Single Use Menu

These are menus designed for one-time special events and are most common with fine dining restaurants or operators dealing with locally sourced products available on a specific day.

Technology Tools for Restaurants

The fourth industrial revolution has brought new innovative tools and technologies. Businesses that have adopted some of these technologies are poised to experience rapid growth, offer customers a frictionless experience and see increased profit margins. In the restaurant industry, embracing technology has enabled them to better their operations at various value chain points. Restaurants should invest in digital technology, which will help position them to offer an improved and better online and in-store experience to customers, especially when the sector is recovering from the coronavirus pandemic. Here are the top technologies restaurants should adopt in 2021.

Point-of-Sale System (POS)

Modern POS systems handle payments and come with other added functions, such as analyzing customer data, inventory tracking, invoicing, and managing receipts. Restaurants should invest in a robust POS system, such as Revel, which is ideal for large restaurants, and those with multiple locations and franchises. A square POS system is suitable for new restaurants and is compatible with all android and iOS devices, and it features shift reports, real-time sales, and payroll management. It’s recommended that operators choose a POS system depending on the size of the restaurant and its needs.

Online Ordering Software

Online ordering will be essential for the growth and survival of restaurants post-Covid. When shopping for online ordering software, restaurateurs should go for one that provides multiple payment getaways, one that integrates with the POS system, and one that has multi-channel ordering points for customers.

Other tech tools that restaurants should consider include contactless payments, back-of-house management, staff scheduling, and delivery systems to reduce over-reliance on third-party aggregator Apps.

Benefits of Investing in Restaurant Technology

Many restaurants are leveraging technology to drive growth and improve operational efficiency. Technology affects restaurants in all aspects of operation, including customer service, employee scheduling, and kitchen management. Restaurant technology falls under several categories, including kitchen automation, operations, customer service, and sustainability. Though there can be disadvantages of implementing different technologies in a restaurant, such as employees finding it difficult to get used to the new systems, the advantages outweigh the negatives. Here are some benefits of investing in restaurant technology.

Better Customer Service

By using an inventory management system, your restaurant will not run out of ingredients hence ensuring that the customer always finds their favorite food on the menu. Also, ensure that you provide a variety of ordering options to improve customer service. These options may include online ordering and kiosk stations.

Increased Profits

Restaurants that have invested in restaurant technology have recorded more revenue leading to increased profits. According to a report, diners who place their orders online tend to spend about 12% more than in-house customers. Automated scheduling software has enabled restaurants to cut on costs since they can reduce labor expenses.

More Efficient Business Operations

Kitchen automation combined with POS systems has enabled restaurants to operate in a well-organized and streamlined way.