Update Your Summer Menu Online Before You Miss Out on More Business

Americans blow more money dining out in the summertime than the rest of the year, a new survey from MarketWatch finds.

87% of Americans spend more money on dining out in the summertime than any other time of the year. This includes both local dining and eating out while traveling on seasonal vacations.

According to statistics released by Capital One, dining at a restaurant is a top priority for spending in the US. In fact, 65% of people’s budget, up to 77% for millennials, is going towards dining experiences.

Consumers look at menus online before choosing a restaurant.

Knowing the importance of menu information to your customer’s journey, we examined 1.2 million menu views from more than 950,000 unique locations across all of 2017 and 2018. From that study, we discovered that June into July represents the last increase in menu views until October.

People are dining out in the summer and they are looking at menus on sites like Google, Yelp and Facebook before they ever even get to your website. If you are not in control of and updating your online menus in all the places people are searching for where to eat in the summer, you are losing customers to your competition.

Update your restaurant’s menu online now, before the summer begins and every time you add or subtract an item on it ensures that customers will be able to find your restaurant when they are making plans to spend money at restaurants over the summer.

 

Here is more info on U.S. Summer dining trends that can help you plan to attract more customers into your restaurant during the warmest months of the year.

 

Need to up update your Summer menu on sites like Google, Facebook, Yelp, TripAdvisor and more?

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How to Boost Incredible Restaurant Revenue with Catering Menus

While restaurant industry growth creeps along year after year, a new study shows that the catering business is booming.

According to Restaurant Dive, catering grew 50% faster than overall restaurant sales in 2018. Catering allows you to reach a new audience of businesses and party planners with the same menu items, kitchen, and staff you already have — and best of all, you know the exact costs and profit margin of catering orders!

Don’t let this explosive opportunity pass by.

Create a special catering menu to reach customers who are looking to make large repeat orders. Customers can fall in love with party platters of your deli sandwiches, hot pasta dishes or passed hors d’oeuvres while you could add up to 18% of your total sales. Not to mention, if they love it they can come back to your restaurant even after the event is over.

If you already have a catering menu, make sure it’s complete and up to date online.

Restaurant Dive’s survey found that 61% of restaurants said their catering orders came primarily business-to-business (B2B). When customers plan an office event or party, their first step is to look for catering options on search sites like Google, Yelp or Bing. In the midst of their busy work day, B2B customers need to be able to find the information they need, when they need it, or they’ll choose a more convenient catering option.

An accurate online menu allows potential customers to discover your restaurant and explore your options before they decide to order.

Only 20% of online searchers look for a restaurant by name: instead, customers are looking for the options they need, like “catering near me” or “party catering with delivery.” Without an online menu, you lose opportunities to be discovered by customers.

Unfortunately, creating and posting your menu to your website isn’t a one-time effort. Your online menu also lives on other third-party sites like TripAdvisor, YP and Foursquare who pull your information and post it on their websites, which can spread old information about discontinued menu items and pricing.

Customers will get frustrated if they find an out-of-date menu on sites like Google, and call to order without knowing your prices have gone up. To make your restaurant easier to find online, you need to update your catering menu everywhere, every time you tweak a price or add a new dish.

SinglePlatform can help you get your catering menu and all your menus online in all of these places in only a couple of minutes.

With one convenient platform, you can quickly log in and make a change to update all over the web, or just send us the updates and we’ll do the work for you. Your catering menu is a powerful tool to attract new customers — make it easy for event planners to choose you.

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restaurant-employees-brand-advocates

Top 5 Restaurant Industry Trends 2019

It’s about that time of year again. It seems like we were just talking about the Top Trends for 2018 and now another year has gone by! I’ve done some research on what the top food mags, sites, and experts are saying about the restaurant & food trends for 2019. And I’ve picked our top 5 favorites to share with you.

Read on for my picks for the Top 5 Food Trends for 2019. And of course, comment below to tell me what you think will be all the rage in the new year!

Wild, Wild Hummus

hummus with pomegranates and cashews

Hummus is already popular, but why not take the craze to the next level? National Restaurant News predicts that the chickpea explosion will happen in ‘19. Exotic flavors of hummus will surface in restaurants around the country. Hummus milkshakes? It’s possible; the chain Hummus & Pita Co. released a line of dessert hummus, proving that the legume isn’t only meant for salty or savory dishes.

Chickpeas will also take centerstage, piggybacking off the healthy eating phenomenon that’s inspired the replacement of brown rice with cauliflower and broccoli. Chickpea tater tots anyone?

I also predict that along with the popular chickpea staple, Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisines in general will continue to flourish. In 2018 we mentioned that ethnic foods and ingredients would be a big hit, and they have. Middle Eastern food has even made its way into fast casual, with chains like Roti growing rapidly.

The Mediterranean diet, with its incorporation of vegetables and proteins, is highly sought after for its freshness and health benefits. Plus, who can resist the flavors of tzatziki, tahini, lemon and dill? They’re some of my personal favorites.

In large metropolitan cities, like New York, stand alone restaurants of these cuisines are popping up all over as well. I definitely think the Middle Eastern and Mediterranean influences will continue to gain prominence throughout grocery and restaurant concepts, so stay tuned!

Purposeful Purchases

bakery filled with bread and two employees in the background

Just as people have become for eco-conscious, they want their favorite brands to be considerate to causes. Whole Foods predicts that philanthropy will be a focus for consumers this year. People will feel more loyalty toward those brands whose values align with theirs and in turn will be inspired to purchase more often from them.

Of course, we’ve all seen different food brands and other companies aligning themselves with a cause, whether it be pet food advocating for animal welfare or donations for children’s hunger. You can adopt this concept too in your own restaurant by supporting other local business or donating a portion of your proceeds to a charity of your choice. Interested? We wrote a blog on different ways you can give back.

Owning a business goes further than just churning out great food and earning a profit; in 2019 people will be looking for businesses that go above and beyond to get involved and give back. Get a head start by thinking of ways you can show your support the causes you care about.

All Oat Everything

glass of oat milk on a cutting board

You may have recently heard about the oat milk craze. No, I didn’t say goat milk – oat milk, made from steel cut oats soaked in water, blended, and strained, is replacing other nut milks that have been popular in recent years. With more and more people adopting a plant-based lifestyle, it’s no surprise that milk is being made from all types of non-animal products.

Although I didn’t see oat milk coming, I’m excited to try it. I’ve replaced most of my 2% milk intake with almond or cashew, but experts say oat milk has less water and more heaviness, making it a more sustainable option. It also has more protein than nut milk, but less than soy or cow’s milk. So, pick your poison!

I’m sure oat milk will be popping up as an option in coffee shops everywhere in 2019. Step aside, Starbucks coconut milk (just kidding, that is my favorite). I can even see it being a new blended seasonal drink additive at major coffee chains. When there’s a craze, these places capitalize on it big time. And don’t rule out grocery stores. Supermarket News says Quaker will be launching an oat beverage in January, so look out.

Another NRN prediction for 2019 is the return of carbs, which relates to the oat phenomenon as well. Dare I say that avocado toast will be replaced with hearty oatmeal bowls at brunch? (Made with oat milk, of course). Only time will tell.

Get Ghost(ed) Restaurants

wok of vegetables being cooked on a stove

Although this trend sounds spooky, it will actually improve efficiencies and customer deliverability. As online ordering and delivery continues to trend upward, there is a need for a quicker way to get orders out. Ghost restaurants, much like ghost writers, do the behind-the-scenes work to churn out meals. Ghost restaurants don’t have physical storefronts, instead they are food kitchens used solely for the purpose of ordering and delivery.

Ghost restaurants already exist, but there will be more technological advances coming. According to Forbes, automation will take over with the incorporation of robots and AI programs. These establishments are great solutions for areas where the rent is high (cough, cough, New York and LA) because owners don’t need a fancy dining room to attract a crowd. The business can defer the sometimes high cost of delivery services by keeping other costs, like rent, lower.

Ghost restaurants even allow multiple food concepts to exist in one kitchen, so diverse meals can be churned out in one space, improving efficiency even further. Plus, with more investments focused on the kitchen, there is opportunity for more customization of food items.

If you’re looking to open up a risky restaurant business without funding a storefront, this may be a good option for you. If you find success with your concept and cuisine, you can consider opening a full brick and mortar.

In the same vein, we predict that online ordering will continue to explode, catering to the millennial generations that are always on the go and always on their phones. Check out our blog on online ordering and deliveries to learn more about your restaurant’s options.

For the Love of Protein

plate of dinner with steak egg and vegetables

And by protein, I don’t only mean big, juicy hamburgers (although I personally am a huge fan). As I mentioned above with the oat milk, people are looking for more diversified protein sources, both meat and non-meat. Whether it means turkey, veggie burgers, or meat made in lab, we’ll be seeing more of these innovative dishes in the new year.

What exactly is lab grown meat? Some companies are using fetal cow blood (nope, not appetizing in description), to grow cells and culture meat within a laboratory setting. The cost is quite high, but are beginning to be cut down as technologies improve.

The Beyond Burger, which we’ve talked about before, is known for being plant-based, but still having that meat texture that even has a blood-like ooze when you bite into it. And other veggie-based products that have been on the market for quite some time continue to see success.

Of course, the hunt for more diversified protein sources is definitely influenced by the health crazes, fad diets, and fitness trends. When you lift things up and put them down, you need the protein to refuel and grow muscle. But, pounds of chicken can get boring after a while (sorry Tyson and Perdue). Look out for the use of these alternate protein sources popping up, and think about how you can incorporate them into your menu.

In Closing

flat lay of mediterranean food hummus pita and vegetables

So there you have it, my top 5 picks for the 2019 trends in restaurants and food. Do you agree with my predictions for what will be hot in 2019? Comment below with your thoughts and prophecies for what the new year will bring to restaurants.

Reshaping Your Restaurant Management With the Right Software

Managing a restaurant is not for the faint of heart. But as a restaurant owner, you already knew that! From effectively managing inventory to upholding health standards, restaurateurs and those in the hospitality industry have their work cut out for them.

To help manage all the puzzle pieces of running a restaurant, it is important to utilize today’s latest restaurant and hospitality software. Restaurant SaaS products can help you automate tasks such as scheduling, point-of-sale (POS), and marketing.

The beginning of a new year is the perfect time to reevaluate your current business tools, review your upcoming year’s budget, and prepare for a busy and profitable year ahead. To get you on track for a successful 2019, below is a list of software that can help you run your restaurant more efficiently.

What to Look For in Restaurant Management Software

Restaurant management software is built to help you focus on what you love: food and happy customers.

Many restaurant leaders can find themselves inundated with logistical details that can distract them from their passion. Accounting, inventory, scheduling, planning, marketing, and more are necessary tasks to make a restaurant successful.

These aren’t always the easiest tasks to keep under control. That’s where modern software comes in. Restaurant solutions keep all the necessary management aspects of a hospitality business running smoothly and efficiently. We will take a look at helpful softwares aimed to enhance your scheduling, point-of-sale systems, and marketing strategy.

Keep Those Schedules Organized: HotSchedules Brings Your Team Together

Hotschedules is a restaurant management solution aimed to help you make schedules faster, communicate changes more efficiently and reduce labor costs.

HotSchedules provides an easy-to-use online template that managers can easily upload schedules, approve shift swaps, enforce clock-ins, and keep PTO, time-off, and availability hours all in one spot.

Employees can receive alerts via text, messaging, or email. If an employee has an emergency, they can message the other staff in the platform to see if anybody can cover them immediately.

This solution reduces time, errors, and headaches over knowing which employee should be where and when. There is no more need for sticky notes or last minute calls between different staff members. Restaurant scheduling can be easy.

Improving the Customer Experience: Custom Point-of-Sale Solutions with Agilysys

Agilysys is a food service and hospitality software company that has a lot of bells and whistles. One of the most helpful features this solution provides is restaurant point-of-sale (POS) solutions. Agilysys offers several different POS options. There are traditional kiosk systems, pay-at-the-table tools, self-serve kiosks, tablets, and mobile ordering from any device, such as customer phones.

For more advanced options, the software includes features that allow reservation and table management, inventory process management, and the ability for workers to utilize wireless and mobile phones to manage food inventory on the go.

Reach Customers Where They’re At: Online Marketing

Most customers find local restaurants by doing online research. They can find your listing on Google, social media platforms, review sites like Yelp, and more. To find new customers and to engage with your current customer base, it is important to be proactive in your digital marketing. There are several different software solutions to help you plan out your social media posts, email campaigns, and local listings.

The important thing is to get yourself and your menu out there in front of hungry potential diners. 93% of your future customers want to check out online menus before deciding which restaurant to choose.

SinglePlatform wants you to get noticed online today; in fact, SinglePlatform customers reach, on average, 4x more diners with their online menus.

It is crucial to invest in a software solution that can handle the financial, logistics, and event side of the food service management industry. Before purchasing a software, be sure to do some research to check out what other users have to say about the software in question.


About the Author: Brianna Barcena is a Content Specialist at TrustRadius. When she’s not in the office, she enjoys reading, watching a good historical drama, doing yoga, and going on adventures with her dog, Deeks.

TechTable Summit 2018: A Round-up of This Year’s Restaurant Technology Event

The TechTable Summit 2018 took place on October 17th. SinglePlatform members attended the event to discuss trends and learn more about the current state of the restaurant industry. We’re sharing this year’s highlights with you.

About TechTable

TechTable Summit celebrated its fourth year with this year’s event execution. Founded in 2014, the vision was to create a way to intertwine technology and the hospitality industry. The annual summit brings top leaders and entrepreneurs across these industries together to discuss relevant industry topics, products, and ideas for the future of hospitality technology.

This year’s panelists and speakers included influencers from Dig Inn, Bareburger, Toast, Vivino, Sweetgreen, Lettuce Entertain You, Resy, and Chipotle, among many others.

As a hospitality-focused technology company, SinglePlatform was in attendance to represent the online presence management we provide to thousands of restaurateurs. We believe in staying ahead of the curve when it comes to innovation, and attending the TechTable Summit is a great way to be part of the conversation.

This Year’s Hot Topics

When marketing your restaurant with effectiveness, knowing your target audience is essential. We discuss the importance of defining your audience here. This was also chewed over at the TechTable Summit regarding loyalty programs and targeted marketing strategy.

Let’s face it, in a world of hyper-connection, we have the world at our fingertips. Diners are craving interactions with your business that are more personal and less mainstream. At this point, personalization is arguably expected. How can you, as a restaurateur, achieve this while doing everything else you need to in order to keep a restaurant in business?

There are plenty of technologies that can help you zero in on customer behaviors in order to take action. We recently discussed the importance of customer retention, which included a discussion on the impact of loyalty programs. Customer order history can also help you tailor marketing to them based on what they like to order, when they dine with you, and etc. Turning these insights into impactful marketing can help you maximize your revenue.

GoParrot, an online ordering and marketing platform powered by artificial intelligence (AI), was a part of the TechTable Summit. The technology GoParrot offers is helping restaurants achieve this personalization. They segment customers by behavior so restaurants can send targeted marketing through loyalty programs, emails, and even text messaging.

If this all seems overwhelming from where you’re at right now, don’t be afraid. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Take small steps to becoming more educated about your customer base, research technology partners, and plan marketing campaigns from there.

This topic isn’t anything new or groundbreaking. But, it is important. If you’re still completing restaurant operations all by hand, you’re living in another era. There are tons of products available to you to help make your life as a business owner easier. Sure, it comes with a cost, but the ROI to your restaurant is arguably worth the upfront or recurring fees.

Although you wouldn’t necessarily think it, TechTable discussed that restaurant owners should focus on the automation of daily tasks that don’t provide immediate value to customers. Using these tools that provide an owner additional visibility into their business and operation will ultimately improve quality and customer experience.

For example, point of sale systems streamline operations from inventory to checkout and also provide analytical insights to the restaurant owner. From those findings, owners can make more educated decisions on everything from menu items and pricing to adjusting inventory levels based on popularity. Plus, using a point of sale system helps to get customers checked out faster to improve not only the guest experience, but table turns as well.

Emmanuelle Skala, Senior VP of Customer Success at Toast, was in attendance at the TechTable event to discuss “Beyond POS” with Adam Landsman of Sunday in Brooklyn, a segment that covered automation in the restaurant and the future of mobile pay.

You don’t need to implement every hospitality tool there is, but you should explore your options and see what makes sense for your business.

It will be interesting to see how, with the influence of AI and other advances, the hospitality technologies continue to evolve.

With 1 billion active monthly users, it’s no secret that Instagram is an extremely popular social media outlet. This was echoed in all but one session of the entire TechTable Summit. Attendees discussed how restaurants can leverage the popularity of Instagram to build a strong audience to tell their story.

Of those 1 billion monthly users, half of them are accessing the platform every single day. There have been 50 billion photos shared since Instagram’s inception and 100+ million more being uploaded per day.

Food photos are popular with Instagram users, so if you post worthy content, you may just see your follower base skyrocket. You won’t, though, if you don’t have a plan for social.

Unfocused and unappealing photos won’t get you many likes in a world where tons of delicious food photos can be discovered. Use high-quality images, appropriate hashtags, and witty captions to win people over. Don’t forget about the additional features Instagram offers, like IGTV and Instagram stories.

TechTable Summit is a future-focused conference held annually to bring minds in both hospitality and technology together. This year’s event covered a wide range of topics, from eliminating manual processes in your restaurant to leveraging the power of social media and targeted marketing.

An important factor in your restaurant’s visibility is your online presence, which can be achieved by getting your menu and business information in the places people are searching for new restaurants. If you haven’t yet heard, we recently released a few exciting new features, including our Holiday Calendar, Activity Stream, and Navigation Pack.

SinglePlatform, along with the other technology participants of TechTable, looks forward to the future of hospitality innovation through the use of products and tools.

To learn more about how we can help your restaurant’s online visibility, contact us today!

Transition Your Business from Paper to Automation with Restaurant Technology

Technology is taking over many aspects of our daily life – how we communicate, work, gather information, shop, and even eat! Yes, from mobile apps that allow us to order and pay wherever we are to the more high-tech VR/AR gadgets that take these steps to a whole new level, there is no stopping technology from revolutionizing the food industry.

Restaurant Automation

Whether you’re a newbie to the restaurant trade or have been in the industry for a long time, you should greatly consider incorporating technology built for restaurants to better your business. Speaking of restaurant technology, one of the most important things that many restaurant owners really benefit from is automation. Automating business processes makes so much sense these days when people have a high demand for quality service and convenience.

What aspects of the restaurant business can be automated?

The answer is almost everything. While you leave it to your chefs and crew to prepare good food for your customers, some other things are best addressed by technology. Below are the most common processes which you can tremendously improve through automation:

Ordering and Billing

Many people fancy the idea of shopping from the comforts of their homes. What’s more, they are constantly looking for ways to save money. There is no wonder why there are hundreds, if not thousands, of online shops these days. Not only are they able to buy items at a cheaper price, they also get so save money on gas and avoid long lines at checkout.

Restaurants are adopting this concept of online convenience as well. Just last year, even McDonalds launched its ordering app to expand its delivery services! Order automation benefits both the customer and the restaurant. In the customer’s point of view, it is much more convenient and faster. On the other hand, the restaurant minimizes risk of getting the order mixed up. The same thing applies to billing. Automating this process ensures that no delays and errors, which all improve customer experience.

Accounting, Analytics & Other Back Office Work

Record-keeping is a tedious task which many business owners dislike. But it is also a very critical part of running a business. Imagine having to manually input sales data, transactions, and other financial details every single day. The great news is there are POS and other accounting software that accurately gather and analyzes data for the owner, making it possible for them to focus on running their business.

Inventory Management

Same with accounting, this is often a time-consuming task. Thankfully, the majority of POS software programs incorporate inventory management system (IMS) which automatically counts available raw materials and stocks in the kitchen, analyzes how such items are going to last, and analyze kitchen requirements which all help reduce wastage.

From Paper to Software – How to Automate Your Business

Shifting from paper to automation can be an exciting yet overwhelming time for every restaurant. Here are the key steps in making the transition smooth and easy:

1. Start With the Easiest Processes

Start with tasks that are easier to manage without human intervention, such as accounting and record-keeping. These are important processes that let you avoid human error and can greatly save you time and effort. You should also consider the tasks that are easy yet repetitive and start from there.

2. Focus on Improving Business Functions

Take time to look at the strengths and weaknesses of your restaurant. What are the areas that could greatly benefit from automation? If you have poor billing process, then you can prioritize automating it. If you’re having a hard time reaching more customers, consider creating an ordering app. Pick a function with a solid ROI.

3. Seek Professional Assistance

You need assistance from automation experts. There must be a core team who will analyze your business automation needs and implement an effective process. Choose a technology partner who has the experience and technology to help you.

4. Train Your Employees

Don’t forget to update and train your staff accordingly. They should know how to use such tools in order to carry out their individual tasks efficiently. Encourage feedback from them too (as well as from your customers). This way, you will know how to further improve your business automation.

In Closing

Automation through the use of restaurant technology isn’t just for the corporate giants. Even small businesses and restaurants can take advantage of helpful technology to boost productivity and efficiency. From receiving orders, processing payments, and making reservations, to back-office work like managing inventory, tracking numbers, analyzing sales data, and so much more – your restaurant can greatly benefit from automation.

Not only does automation makes everything more efficient in your business, it also tremendously helps save you money and boost your revenues. Take note that automating your restaurant doesn’t have to come in full blast. It is best to make the transition one step at a time, focusing on the most tedious, repetitive processes and the vital ones.

5 Ways America’s Restaurant Industry Has Changed Over the Last Decade

The concept of evolution doesn’t only apply to Darwinian theory. The restaurant industry has continued to transform and adapt since the first known dining establishment opened its doors in 18th century France. We’re not going to delve that deep into the history of dining out, but we’ll explore 5 ways the U.S. restaurant industry has changed in the last ten years.

1. Fluctuation in the U.S. Economy Affects Restaurant Business

Time-travel back to 2008 for a moment. For some of us, it was a time we’re still trying to forget (fur-lined Crocs and Uggs, anyone?) It was also a time of economic plight, not only for America, but the entire world.  Between 2007 and 2008, the global financial crisis hit hard and was compared by multiple economists to the Great Depression of the 1930s. The catalyst for the financial downturn? The United States mortgage bubble that quickly turned into a full-on banking crisis. From there, the Great Recession sent shockwaves through the entire globe.

Unsurprisingly, this state of economic unrest severely affected the restaurant industry. A CNN Money report from mid 2008 noted that casual dining chains were taking a major hit as people turned to cheaper food alternatives. A number of restaurant businesses filed for bankruptcy and closed their doors.  At the same time, the job market was just as bleak, with unemployment rates reaching up to 10% in the years following the Great Recession.

Like anything else, the economy has since bounced back. Things took a positive turn around mid-2009 and have been steadily looking up ever since. Unemployment rates are currently at an impressive low, with a rate of about 4% holding steady throughout 2018. Total US food sales also increased year after year, with 2017 total retail and food services sales reaching 5.75 trillion.  In 2009, food sales were only at about 4.06 trillion, a true reflection of the economy’s downward spiral.

According to the National Restaurant Association, as of 2017 there are over 1 million restaurant locations in the United States employing 14.7 million people in the field. Predictions for the next ten years in the food-service industry continue to look up, and we hope that to be true.

2. The Rise in Popularity of Organic Food Creates a New Standard

In today’s world, the term organic in reference to food is as ordinary as the common cold. When you go to the grocery store you have the option choose between organic and non-organic fruits and vegetables, a decision that can have an influence on both your health and your wallet.

According to the Organic Trade Association, the consumer demand for organic products has grown by double-digits every year since the 1990s. In 2008, total U.S. organic sales and growth was sitting at about $20 billion. By 2015, that number had nearly doubled to almost $40 billion.

Although organic food items tend to be pricier, people are buying them. Today, America is spending nearly $50 billion on organic products each year, with over 82% of households buying it. Top reasons? A 2016 Treehugger survey reveals people buy organic for health reasons, concerns for the environment, and better taste.

The organic craze doesn’t just apply to household preferences and the grocery industry. Restaurants have followed suit in order to cater to the ever-growing demand for organic products. We’ve seen a rise in locally-sourced, farm-to-table concepts that center around healthy ingredients and environmental sustainability.

Today’s savvy restaurateurs are giving the people what they want – delicious food with ingredients that have a clear, local origin. And this trend isn’t just prevalent in single location restaurants. Fast-casual chains like sweetgreen and Dig Inn pride themselves on mindful farm-sourced menu items that include rotating seasonal selections.

Over the years, our population has taken a stand, demanding the right to know where food is coming from before it enters our bodies. In response, the restaurant industry has made strides to become more transparent, more inclusive of local agriculture, and more vocal about their use of high-quality ingredients. An inclusion of organic products isn’t just a foodie trend, but a standard of quality with a permanent seat at America’s dining room table.

3. Social Media Impacts Where and What We Eat

Social media is tremendously influential, a notion that isn’t the slightest bit groundbreaking. But, think back to 2008 again for a moment. Most of us were awkwardly navigating our newfangled Facebook pages and kissing Myspace goodbye. Instagram was probably not yet even a figment of Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger’s imaginations. Twitter wasn’t as flooded with politically and humorously charged tweets, retweets, and favorites. It’s a bit nostalgic to think back to those days of infancy of social media, when everything was new and exciting. Today, social media is a fabric of society, often too hard to escape even for an hour.

Pew Research shows that in 2018, 68% of Americans use Facebook, 35% are on Instagram, and 24% have a Twitter account. The average person uses three social accounts and most people access their social channels at least once per day.

The authority of social media has had a significant effect on the restaurant industry as well. If I could sum it up in one hashtag, it would be #FoodPorn (which by the way currently has 171 million posts attributed to it on Instagram alone). You probably follow at least a few accounts, whether it be restaurants themselves, food magazines, or the bloggers and influencers who have made a living out of snapping irresistible photos of what they’re eating. And this foodie phenomenon has altered the way that we look at food, where we go to get it, and what we choose to eat.

In order to keep up with the demands of a social-centric society, your restaurant needs to be present on social media. And you’ve got to do it right. You should not only be posting quality content to your own handles, but reaching out to foodies and influencers to cast a wider net.

Restaurant marketing has experienced a paradigm shift over the years and traditional advertising tactics just don’t cut it anymore. What was new and exciting on social media in 2008 is now an essential piece of the marketing pie for restaurants, so it’s important to attract new customers by being social.

4. Food is Easily Available Whether You’re Dining Out or Staying In

Along with being present on social media and more tech-savvy than ever before, Americans are growing increasingly impatient. Technology lends itself to a “I want it right now” culture. You can get an Amazon Prime delivery in two days and even get grocery stores to do the shopping for you. This concept translates to restaurants as well. A vast  landscape of restaurants lie between fast food and fine dining. The fast casual dining concept has experienced a boom in recent years with its ability to juxtapose a slightly elevated in-house dining experience with quickness and convenience.

Brands like Shake Shack, Panera Bread, and Moe’s Southwest Grill (to name a few) have made a business out of being the middle ground between fancy and fast. Of course, fast casual existed in 2008, and was a crutch during the recession, but picked up speed in years following.

The fast casual scene as a whole has had its ups and downs, with brands like Chipotle and Starbucks making national news for everything from foodborne illnesses to social injustices. However, according to Restaurant Business, fast casual chains grew sales by 8.9% in 2017. People like having the option to dine out without having to dress up and enjoy being able to place an order with a staff member but not rely on a waiter each step of the way. Convenience is key when it comes to fast casual.

Eating in has also become wildly simpler in recent years. Delivery services like Grubhub, Postmates, and Slice are dedicated to getting food to people in the comfort of their own homes. What used to be a landline call to your local chinese restaurant is now a few taps on a smartphone app. As a comparison, in 2008 only 22% of people owned smartphones. Today, that number has risen to 77%.

Online delivery currently represents 43% of all delivery orders. The market has increased steadily since 2011 alone and there are no signs of this trend slowing down. According to CNBC, the investment firm Cowen is forecasting a 79% surge in total U.S. food home delivery over the next 5 years, an increase from $43 billion in 2017 to $76 billion by 2022.

The cuisines people are ordering are more diverse as well. Typically, Chinese food and pizza were go-to order-in items. Now, especially in large metro areas, people have access to anything from Mediterranean kebabs to bagels and lox, delivered quickly to their door. People are expanding their cultural palates within the comfort of their own living rooms.

If your restaurant isn’t making it efficient for hungry couch potatoes to order food online, you’re missing out on opportunity for more profit.

5. The #MeToo Movement Breaks Silence About Workplace Culture

 #MeToo march via Vox #MeToo march via Vox

It’s no secret that brave individuals of all industries have been more vocal about their rights than ever before. What started out as a shocking scandal involving Hollywood’s elite quickly reverberated through a number of other sectors. And the restaurant world wasn’t omitted from the conversation. Celebrity chef Mario Batali and other restaurateurs, like John Besh and Ken Friedman, have been accused of inappropriate acts in the workplace. Case by case accusations quickly turned into a larger stand against sexual harassment and inequality everywhere. The #MeToo movement continues to send a clear message that injustice will no longer be tolerated.

The restaurant kitchen has long been known to be male-dominated, and was referred to by the New Yorker as “bro” culture. But, because these horrible truths within the workplace finally surfaced, positivity started to come as a result.

For the first time, women have a prominent voice that echoes loudly through the discussion. Empowerment has been a result of the destruction. In the aftermath, we’re seeing more female powerhouses in the restaurant and hospitality industries band together to create a statement and a difference.

Earlier this year, OpenTable CEO Christa Quarles started an Open Conversation dinner series dedicated to women in food. Just this month, Saveur magazine released an issue completely created by and about women. Women are taking on more prominent roles in the industry, proving that they can make light of a negative situation, turning it into a mission for good.

The truth about workplace culture has been brought to light and the dynamic is continuing to evolve; what was once swept under the kitchen rug is now the topic of dinner conversation. There’s still work to do to make the workplace a safe place to be, but we’ve made larger strides than ever before. And for that, we should be proud.

In Closing

Change is inevitable in any industry and has been especially prominent in the restaurant sector over the past ten years. From shifts in technology and trends to developments in acceptable work behavior, we have seen an evolution that will continue to advance in years to come.

As part of a larger entity of food, hospitality, and restaurants, we’ll be along for the ride and looking forward to seeing where it’ll take us next.