Top Trends in the Restaurant Industry în 2021

Through its dynamic character, the hospitality industry is confronted with challenges all the time. But 2020 was hit with an unprecedented crisis. Although economic previews show wounds won’t heal in 2021, businesses that prove adaptability are those prone to survive and recover. Because we want to contribute to the reconstruction of the hospitality world and to empower entrepreneurs to reinvent smart, we created a tendencies guide for the restaurant industry. 

In this almost one year, the whole team was connected to the market, to the real situations of the entrepreneurs and to the way the players from the industry have adapted in countries considered parents of hospitality. All the stories found out helped us today to throw an optimistic look at 2021 and sketch the ideas of this report.” (Victor Grosu, founder at Grosu Art Studio)

2021 comes with a new dining experience. Customers will be looking out for safety more than ever and will react positively to every sign of honesty on behalf of restaurants that take their health concerns seriously. So, restaurant interiors will be reconfigured in order to allow social distancing. There will be elements of physical or visual separation of the space, customers’ contact with surfaces and even personnel will be reduced as much as possible, the technological flow of the restaurant will be reinvented in order to make room for health safety measures.  

In these conditions, the huge challenge of location managers will be to find ways to recreate the same positive social experience we were all used to before the pandemic, which made a sense of going out. When it comes to restaurant design, this means creating quiet and relaxing spaces, in contact with nature where it is possible. Terraces will work also during the cold season, and restaurants will invest more and more in the outdoor set-up.  

“This crisis confronted some of the restaurant owners with their past mistakes. That is why they decided to invest in forming a specialist team which will now enforce some steps that were burnt in the past: space redesigning or reconditioning, redoing the menu, advertising”, says Victor Grosu.

Regarding the menu, 2021 will be about comfort and simplicity, as an answer to the public need for normality. 

The tendency of cooking with local, seasonal ingredients – as a way for the small businesses to support each other – will grow. Also, restaurants that got the taste of an incremental income will create more and more brand extensions, offering products for the home pantry: from pickles to homemade sauces, to meats and cookies. 

Chefs who made their names in the industry and already have their own communities will embark on new adventures, in new territories, taking advantage of new opportunities on the market. This means new and surprising concepts will arise – from pop-up restaurants to private dining services or other interesting new ways of replicating the restaurant experience in the homes of the customers. 

Expanding the food delivery market in 2020 led to the appearance of ghost kitchens also in Romania. Known as virtual restaurants, dark kitchens or satellite restaurants, these can be flexible with their menus and adapt to the customers’ taste, analysed with the help of the data collected by the delivery apps. To avoid paying commissions to food-ordering platforms, more and more restaurants are working on their own online ordering and delivery systems. 

Even for dine-in restaurants, the tendency of investing in automatization solutions is growing. Electronic menus that you can access through a QR code will evolve into an ordering system without any waiter needed. This is only the beginning of an innovation series for restaurant digitization.  

Social media remains the main information source for customers, information that should make owners in the hospitality industry invest in an online consistent presence, on all channels.