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5 Trends That Will Shape the Restaurant World in 2021



Trend watch! 2020 is almost over (thank god), and 2021 will soon be upon us. From tip pooling software to plant-based foods, here are the five major trends that will shape the restaurant industry next year. 


Trend #1 - Pop-Up Events


Since it’s still not completely safe for full-service restaurants to open for dine-in, 2021 is likely to see a huge increase in pop-up events. Many restaurants are branching into pop-up events that have never done so previously. These types of events are perfect for exploring new audiences. Thanks to COVID-19, it’s more important than ever for restaurateurs to continue growing their customer base. 


Pop-ups occur in unpredictable locations and are often intimate, limited to a short invite list. Sometimes they happen with very short notice, although public health regulations may demand a bit more notice (and even testing before entry). 


These events give chefs an opportunity to trial new dishes. People love to be part of the in-crowd and they love to try new things. Pop-up events can accomplish all of the above. Plus, they’re ideal for restaurant owners because they offer low overhead and low food waste.



Trend #2 - Food Delivery


Yup, this one’s here to stay. No-contact delivery is an essential service for your business going into 2021. It’s not as simple as setting up an account with a major delivery service. You should be thinking about how to make the delivery experience special, ensuring that your customers are getting the highest-quality product from your kitchen.


To nail food delivery, you might need to redesign your menu. For instance, french fries and poached eggs are two foods that just don’t travel very well. In a sealed take-out container, french fries will get soft and mushy. Poached eggs will pop as the boxes slide around in the back of the delivery driver’s car. 


Step one, make sure you’ve got a handle on the basics of keeping your business float: automatic tip sharing, online ordering, and a well-trained staff. Step two, make sure your take-out game is strong. Review the most popular dishes and brainstorm with your chefs to figure out how to adapt your menu for delivery.


Trend #3 - Restaurants Going into Retail


It’s no secret that money is tight in the food industry right now. That’s why topics like how to fairly distribute tips are trending. Your team needs to know that you’ve got the cash to take care of them. One smart way to do that is by branching out into retail. This is bound to be a hot trend in 2021 as restaurant owners seek to make a little extra cash.


If you have a special sauce, bottle it up. Famous for your quirky decor? Release a line of postcards or greeting cards based on your restaurant’s decor. There is no shortage of ideas when it comes to restaurant retail options. From spice blends to sauces, you could take the edible route. On the other hand, you could print greeting cards, t-shirts, or keychains. Do it right and you’ll have some extra cash in the kitty each month. Then, use tip sharing software to dole out the profits to your team. This could be a great trend for upping your bottom line in 2021.



Trend #4 - Emphasis on Health and Plant-Based Foods


In a pandemic, health is a major topic of conversation. This trend will continue into 2021 as customers seek healthy, plant-based foods that are kinder to their bodies and kinder to the planet. It’s not necessary to transform your entire business, but it would be wise to make sure that you incorporate some vegan-friendly items in 2021. 


It’s also worth considering your website’s branding. Are there places you could add a bit of green? You should be highlighting your local produce providers and all the other sustainable practices at your restaurant. In 2021, customers will be looking for it more than ever.


Trend #5 - Transparency Around Tipping & How Staff Are Treated


This year, people learned just how valuable restaurant workers and delivery drivers really are. They make the world go round! In 2021, customers will continue to demand clearer insight into how workers are treated. This means tip distribution and tip allocation. People want to express their gratitude, which means they need to know how to calculate tips.


One way to do this is by making the restaurant tip automatic. Let your customers know that you’re taking care of your staff. Tip sharing and tip pooling are two valid ways to handle tip allocation. If you want to make it really easy, look for a tip distribution software that can do it all for you. Show your customers that you’re doing this right, and you’ll keep their business in 2021.


The New Year will be upon us shortly! Is your business ready to meet 2021 with confidence? Let these five trends guide you, and reach out if we can help.

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