Are you ready to make 2023 the best year yet for your restaurant? If the answer is yes, then now is the time to start planning with our trend report for restaurants. Lucky for you, I’ve done my homework, and I’m here, with conviction, to jump-start your 2023 with a list of noteworthy trends to hang your hat on in the new year.
The first few trends can be bundled under one umbrella: the sustainability umbrella. I took a trip down memory lane and found that sustainability is mentioned in every Seated trend article I’ve written, year after year. But it’s a trend that we never want to become cliche because it’s that important. What can change year after year are the current buzz topics surrounding sustainability, and for 2023 we’ve got a few new-ish approaches.
1. New glocal
The first on our trend report for restaurants is a term that isn’t necessarily new, but it’s gaining popularity because of issues relating to the pandemic — new glocal. New glocal refers to a more purposeful relationship between locally produced and globally imported foods. The hope is that soon, regional availability, rather than price, will be the primary benchmark for whether or not foods and raw materials such as grains are imported or not. This will lead to shorter, more transparent supply chains and a more significant focus on domestic trade.
It’s estimated that an average food item travels 1,200 miles from farm to fork. This number cannot come down without the support of the restaurant industry. By turning to your local farms and producers who have migrated from other cultures and are cultivating foods from their homelands on local soil, you can achieve a global dish with local ingredients.
2. Regenerative food
The following sustainability trend gaining momentum is one with its roots firmly embedded in the climate crisis. Regenerative food is a system of farming and production that works in partnership with the world around us rather than working against it. Much of the food we eat today is produced in a way that degrades our land and water and accelerates climate change and species extinction while making our farms less productive over time. Regenerative food production can significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions by reducing our reliance on synthetic additives, thus building healthy soils. Healthy soils help restore the natural carbon cycle, making them better able to withstand erosion and hold water, reducing the impact of droughts.
This is all fine and great, but the question remains, what can your restaurant do to promote regenerative agriculture? It’s nearly impossible to make a move to only support farms and producers that adhere to a strict regenerative food system — even today, only about 2% of farms worldwide practice regenerative agriculture. But, you can support a program that gives back to these farms, like Zero Foodprint. Created out of a desire to support sustainable farming, Zero Foodprint takes a small percentage of every sale from a participating restaurant. It redistributes that money to farms looking to expand or create regenerative agriculture plots. Hopefully, someday, a restaurant will easily be able only to utilize products produced sustainably, but for now, partnering with a program that contributes to these systems is your best bet.
3. Technology trends
Next, let’s talk about technology. Many, if not all, of the hospitality technology trends for 2023 were built out of necessity during the pandemic. Restaurants were busy trying to devise ways to limit face-to-face interactions while still making a profit. And the popularity of these innovations is only increasing. The restaurant industry still faces a staffing shortage, leading many to turn to innovative technology to keep their operations running. Technology can fill the gaps with online ordering, shorten processing times, and help to monitor employee productivity.
Consumers have also become attached to smart restaurant technology. Whether using tabletop kiosks to place orders or QR codes to pay with mobile devices, diners and restaurant operators are seeing the benefits of restaurant technology. So the most significant technology trend in restaurants as we approach 2023 isn’t necessarily one thing but a rise in its popularity in general.
4. Curbside pickup
Another on our trend report for restaurants that saw a rise in popularity during the pandemic and isn’t showing any signs of slowing down is curbside pickup. There are several reasons why this trend will continue to gain momentum in 2023. The first is its ease of execution, and the second is its low price tag. Any restaurant can adopt this trend without incurring huge costs, especially compared to the cost of implementing a delivery system. There’s no need to hire additional staff, making the process much more efficient for your customers. Curbside pickup is a guaranteed moneymaker and a trend that your restaurant can implement with little to no overhead.
5. Marketing trends
Last but not least, let’s discuss marketing your restaurant in 2023. This marketing trend certainly isn’t new to anyone, but its popularity in the restaurant industry is increasing tenfold. I’m talking about social media. In a 2020 article published by Toast, it was reported that 27% of guests discover restaurants through Facebook, 25% through social media overall, and 18% through Instagram. I can only imagine that these numbers have risen in the past three years. So basically, almost your entire customer base is searching for their next meal on social media.
Not to mention the rise in popularity of TikTok. TikTok was the most downloaded app in 2021. Everyone from your middle-schooler to your grandmother is on TikTok these days. Tap into your young employees to have them create and manage a TikTok account for your restaurant. Use whatever dance or song is trending to record fun and memorable videos of your staff, food, and venue. You may not go viral, but you’re sure to attract some new and returning customers.
The time is now to adopt these trends for 2023
To sum up, it seems as though 2023 will be full of environmentally friendly choices, innovative technology, and viral TikTok dances for the restaurant industry. No matter how big or small your restaurant business is, there’s room for everyone to take advantage of these trends, and that is part of what makes this new year so exciting for our industry. We’ve weathered the storm and come out on the other end stronger and more willing to adapt and try new things.