Top Ten Projected Restaurant Trends for 2011

canape with Roquefort cheeseI recently wrote about 2011 restaurant trends, including predictions from Mintel, Andrew Freeman & Co. and Baum & Whiteman Co.  This time the projected trends are from Independent Restaurateur:

A decline in organic produce. Consumers may have a growing interest in organic, but farmers and growers have realized that growing organic produce is extensive and costly. The government has also tightened the regulations around the criteria for defining and achieving organic status.  If organic growing becomes too costly for farmers, they will grow less and prices will increase. That means customers will likely see a decline in organics on restaurant menus.

[photo: Starush on]

Less becomes more. Portion sizes used to be immense, but restaurants are beginning to see requests for smaller portions. Chef Bobby Lane of Chester’s Chophouse agrees, saying that for 2011 he sees “more ‘smaller plate’ offerings – a movement away from traditional big plate, main course offerings.” What makes this trend particularly viable is that it allows the consumer both to eat less and to save money.

Better nutritional choices for children.  Now parents have healthier options for their children when eating out. Fruits, vegetables and milk can be ordered with kids’ meals everywhere.  It seems that if parents know their kids are eating well, they don’t mind paying for it.  Eric Mason of The Grill on Twenty First agrees:  [In 2011] we will continue to focus on kids. Win the kids over and the parents don’t have a chance!”

An increase in quality foods. Too many outbreaks have led consumers to be cautious of foodborne illnesses, which means they’ll agree to pay for higher quality items to avert potential food safety issues.

More variety on the menu. People are tiring of the same choices at restaurants, so more and more restaurants strive to spice things up, literally, by drawing on recipes from all over the world. Complementing this trend, Chef Bobby Lane of Chester’s Chophouse sees “more craft beer brands and craft beer dinners (like wine dinners but pairing with beers).”  [photo:  beer flight by +russ on flickr]

3969882519_d2d0c619f1Clean ingredient statements. Consumers are learning more about what they’re eating, and if they see preservatives or high fructose corn syrup on the label, they are less likely to buy the product. Restaurants will follow this lead in an effort to draw in new customers, preparing their products in house more often and using better ingredients.

Yogurt shops. If you’ve driven around lately, you’ve probably seen these little yogurt shops surfacing on just about every corner. Serving homemade yogurt with fresh fruit and other toppings has become a craze that transcends the summer months.


[photo: rowkitcat on]

Convenient foods. Remember those state-of-the-art TV dinners? Well, things are getting easier. Convenience stores are getting in on the action, offering prepared breakfast, lunch and dinner items. Restaurants will have even more competition.

Food traceability. Mad cow disease is so five minutes ago. There are many more viruses far more difficult to spell that can potentially reside on our food, which is exactly why consumers want to know where their food comes from. In some countries, they have a system that can tell the buyer the farm that produced a specific piece of meat. Such technology will be a useful tool for restaurants across nations and will help quality assurance even more.

Value dining. People want to eat out but they don’t want to – and often can’t – pay too much for it. Look for more deals like the popular “two for twenty,” where two people eat for $20 and get drinks, an appetizer, two meals and desserts. Eric Mason of The Grill on Twenty First sees this trend continuing from this past year, saying, “We served many families in 2010 that split meals to cut costs. Our traffic count was as good if not better than last year, but the per-check order was down this year as a result.” His solution? “We made sure our menu had something for everyone, whether customers had only $10 or they were going out for a special treat.”

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