In a competitive and pressured environment, restaurants today are about more than the food and drink they serve. To be successful in 2019, a restaurant has to keep an eye on consumer preferences, especially when it comes to experience and offering. Perhaps it means doing away with white tablecloths or perhaps having a one dish menu…
Culinary Predictions for 2019 focuses on meat-free, marijuana and everything low in or free from calories, alcohol, gluten… (read more), but restaurants have more to consider. While the ‘restaurant recession’ of 2016 and 2017 eased-up during 2018, the number of restaurants in the UK still declined by 2% – more than 10 closures per week. At the same time restaurant insolvencies in 2017/2018 were up by 24% compared to the previous year. (Read more: TheDrinksbusiness.com)
And while the variety and quality of restaurants in South Africa are impressive, the trade suffers with South Africans feeling the pressure economically. The South African Food and Beverages industry’s monthly income has not seen any dramatic increases over the last ten years and like the SA economy, there is no real growth. (Read more: SouthAfricanmi.com)
Restaurants have their work cut out for them but at least the forecast for 2019 allows creativity and offers opportunity to those who are up for a challenge. Here are the predictions for the restaurant business in the new year.
Traditional white tablecloth restaurants will still serve the niche market, but for new entrants to the fine-dining space, it is less about formality and more about fun. Supporting the experience-driven consumer trend, ambience and a unique offering are becoming increasingly important for successful fine-dining.
Experiential and intimate
Celebrating the increased focus on creativity in the kitchen, restaurants are smaller and invites patrons to be part of the food experience with open kitchens, counter dining, self-serving stations and ever-changing tasting menus. (Read more)
While restaurants serving only steak, salad and chips might not be the latest trend, a renewed single-mindedness can be expected with some restaurants having a single-item menu! Click here for a list of single-dish restaurants in Cape Town.
The convenience of e-commerce extends to dining-out and changes it into dining-in. Similar to what is happening with the Pub industry in the UK (read more), social media allows us to socialise from the comfort of our couches and with delivery companies such as Uber Eats and Deliveroo going from strength to strength, many prefer to rather enjoy their favourite meal at home – whether it is traditional takeout or fine-dining. This option eliminates drinking and driving and of course the mark-up of the wine list. While it is a new option for restaurants to explore, it is not without danger to the industry. The restaurant experience does not only provide many job opportunities, but the missed sales of drinks and desserts because of takeaways, can also have a negative impact on profitability.
Escaping the phone, or not
While the takeaway dining option allows you to Facebook from the couch while enjoying your duck and Pinot Noir, according to Chef Marc Forgione, restaurants should be exploring ways to make dining more interactive and dishes shareable in order for diners to put away their phones while having a meal. (Read more)
At the same time, Instagram-worthy dishes and table settings are an important part of the online marketing of many restaurants. As important as authenticity and taste are, styling and design have become a very important part of the restaurant experience.
Sustainability and traceability of ingredients are nothing new, but keeping chefs accountable might be. Similar to the expectation that brands should have a higher purpose (read more), chefs with their celebrity status are expected to not only be responsible when it comes to sourcing ingredients, but also when it comes to serving the community and promoting constructive change. Leading the way is Chef José Andrés who has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize! Quoting Chef Thomas Boemer on FoodandWine.com: “With chef José Andrés nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, it shows the capability our industry has to improve the lives in the communities we serve. We can assemble ourselves to help others as we move into 2019.”
The US Food and Drug Administration requires restaurants with 20 or more locations in America to provide a calorie count on menus and smaller restaurants are expected to follow suit. (Read more) I really hope this trend does not become global, it might just spoil my appetite and have me opting for take-aways!