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the Restaurateur

National Restaurant Trends: What’s Hot this Fall

September 19, 2013

Top food, beverage and hospitality industry trends you can expect to see popping up at your favorite local eateries.

We have compiled some of the top food, beverage and hospitality industry trends you can expect to see popping up at your favorite local eateries.

Food trends:

  • Locally sourced/grown. People are changing the way they think about food. This is not so much of a trend but a new way of thinking about what you consume. The secret is out; it tastes better when it’s fresh.
  • Healthier Kids menus. Restaurants across the country are rising to the challenge of creating fun, healthy menu items for children. Over 30,000 restaurants (mostly chains like Applebee’s) nationwide are part of the National Restaurant Association’s Kids LiveWell program that helps parents and children choose healthy meals when dining out. Be on the lookout for more colorful fruits, vegetables and whole grains on the kids menu.
  • Gluten-free options. The number of restaurants with gluten-free items are increasing due to the growing number of patrons diagnosed with celiac and gluten intolerances. Staples like pasta, bread and pizza are some of the most common substitutes you’ll find.
  • Sustainable choices. The move towards sustainability is very similar to the locally sourced/grown trend. Not only do consumers want to know where their food is coming from, they want to know that it’s not killing the environment by sourcing it. Many restaurants are taking the sustainability trend seriously by cutting their waste, water and energy usage and doing things such as using biodegradable doggie bags vs. plastic or styrofoam containers.
  • New cuts of meat. Steakhouses all over the country are re-inventing what we meat eaters know and expect from the usual cut of beef. Due to record-high beef prices and evolving culinary trends, consumers are pushing the boundaries and demanding new cuts that are budget friendly. Keep an eye out for some of our personal favorites: the “hunk and chunk”, the “Denver Steak” or the “rib cap”.

Beverage Trends:

  • Onsite aged drinks or drinks that are premixed and left to sit and develop flavors over several weeks are a huge hit that many restaurants are adapting to and joining in on creating their own unique concoctions. These drinks are allowing bartenders to add their personal flair to spice up an in-house classic cocktail.
  • Hard cider is making a comeback. This summer/fall you will see many more restaurants with a hard cider on tap. Not only is this drink popular for the brunch crowd, it goes down easy in the early evening. Ciders come in just as many flavor variations as many regular brews and many popular brands include a flavor profile mixed with other fruits such as peaches, berries and pears and seasonal blends for fall. Another bonus- it’s gluten-free.

Industry trends:

  • Going mobile. Restaurants are evolving and finding ways to satisfy a generation that’s been built on “the now”. Restaurants are adding online menu ordering options to their mobile websites and chains like McDonalds are making fast-food even faster by installing kiosks that allow consumers to avoid the line and enter their order themselves.
  • Social Networking. Patrons are doing their homework. Now more than ever customers are researching restaurant reviews on sites such as Yelp, Zagat, Urbanspoon and Grub Street before they even walk in your door. Make sure you are aware of the reviews floating around on the internet about your restaurant and listen to your customer’s feedback.

Those are some of the top restaurant trends of 2013. Of course, there are others and we would love to hear about your firsthand experience. Have you tried an awesome beer based cocktail or found a local hot spot that sources hyper-local produce? Tell us about it!

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