Top 5 Restaurant Industry Trends 2019

Taylor Kelly

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.

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