Owning a restaurant is the culmination of the American Dream for many—particularly within immigrant communities. In fact, according to the U.S. census, as reported in Nation’s Restaurant News (NRN),immigrants own 29 percent of all restaurants and hotels in the U.S., more than twice the 14 percent rate for all businesses.
As romantic and exciting as owning a restaurant might be, it’s not easy. Food trends are constantly shifting—with some disappearing as quickly as they emerged. Still, despite some reports of a coming “bloodbath” in the industry, there are signs of stabilization and even growth. NRNreports on data from TDn2K’s Black Box Intelligence showing same-store sales in December grew 2 percent, the highest in more than three years. December was also the seventh straight month of positive industry growth. Overall, same-store sales in 2018 were up 0.7 percent, which may not seem like a lot, but was the industry’s “best performance” since 2015.
To find out about the latest restaurant trends I talked to Nancy Luna, Senior Editor at Nation’s Restaurant News.
Rieva Lesonsky: What current national trends are you seeing? Last year it seemed it was all about providing breakfast all day. What’s the “must do” for 2019?
Nancy Luna: Restaurant trends these days are more focused on operational efficiency The continued shift toward an on-demand society is forcing restaurants to provide customers with delicious food in a timely manner through delivery, and mobile order/pickup. This is happening in both QSR [quick service] and casual di
ning. Not so much in fine dining.
Lesonsky: What changes do you think restaurants need to make to appeal to millennials, the nation’s largest consumer group?
Luna: I would argue restaurants are no longer catering specifically to millennials. That was overtly true two-three years ago. Today’s restaurants, at least the smart ones, are moving towards capturing a new category of diners: on-the-go, stay-at-home eaters who want to sit on their couch eating their favorite restaurant food while binge-watching shows on Netflix. That could be Gen Y, Gen X or Gen Z. You can see this playing out in QSR and Fast Casual, as [I] cited in this story.
Lesonsky: You’ve confirmed what I’ve heard—that every restaurant must offer a delivery option. True, or is it hyperbole?
Luna: Mostly true. Clearly delivery is not the right business model for fine dining concepts. It’s most advantageous for casual dining, which has struggled to compete with the quality and affordability of fast casual players. For casual dining, delivery levels the playing field and has contributed to incremental sales, according to chains I’ve interviewed.
Restaurant Trends to Watch
As for what America wants to eat, Restaurant Business says these trends will take hold in 2019.
- Look for more plant-based patties on restaurant menus, as well as “veg-forward dishes.”
- Yet “2019 will see a record-high beef supply…and prices have declined for prime rib-eyes and loins. More favorable beef costs may translate to more of this red meat on menus, perhaps in smaller portions in sync with healthy eating trends.”
- Butter is back. Restaurant Businesssays it will be “enhancing everything from coffee to grilled meats with rich flavor.”
- Sour power. The “rise of Persian and Filipino cuisines” have pushed extreme sour foods into the mainstream. That means foods flavored with ingredients such as vinegar, tamarind, pomegranates, and sour oranges.
For more on 2019 restaurant trends, check out this article.
Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.
Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.
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