5 Tectonic Shifts and Challenges Facing Restaurant Owners and Operators in 2019

The restaurant business is an ever-changing industry. Our team stays on track by keeping pace with today’s marketplace, food industry trends, restaurant trends, and putting our knowledge and experience to work, thoughtfully guiding clients through the shifts and challenges they’ll undoubtedly face on their way to food service industry success.

First though, we look back. At the end of each year we review the year’s industry game changers to help us forecast what’s next.

Here are the 5 Tectonic Shifts and Challenges Facing Restaurant Owners and Operators in 2019: 

Technology. Personalization. Customization. Automation. Software. Will all make their mark in 2019. Our MP/VP of Restaurant Operations, Amber Hartman, says technology is primed to offer owners and operators the streamlining capabilities they need to drive their business(es), from inventory management and supply chains to adhering to timelines. “As minimum wage hikes continue across the country, we will see a strong shift towards technology to reduce labor and implement systems such as automation through the use of kiosks, GPS tracking software, and customization by way of guest tablets at every table.”

Food Costs. We see food costs continuing to rise in 2019 for a variety of reasons. Climate change is one predictor. Unstable global trade is another. “Creating more droughts and less supply, climate change will play a big part in rising food costs in 2019,” says Amber. “And,” she continues, “our U.S./global tariff and trade issues and an increase in oil costs will translate to increased shipping charges, and the like.”

Online Delivery. Last year, we reported on the demise of traditional delivery concepts as we watched companies that wanted to trend up and reach new diners put their budgets behind innovative service delivery models. Our own Dan Simons has been out front in the press speaking to Farmers Restaurant Group’s success with delivery concepts, such as partnering with Plum Relish which specializes in the growing lunch/catering need, to get restaurant businesses to move to improve delivery and customer service, not hinder it with additional overhead. Our VSAG Managing Partner Tom Prykanowski, agrees. Tom sees online delivery making its innovative mark in 2019. “Online delivery,” Tom says, “plays into technology as each online delivery app requires its own iPad and printer/set up.”

The Gen Z Workforce. Welcome to the workforce, Gen Z! The 61 million of you that is. Projected to out-size their Gen X predecessors, our team is ready for the influx and for the opportunity to embrace this up-and-coming workforce generation. As most Gen Z-ers have grown up in a world filled with technology and innovation literally at their fingertips, they will be looking for creative, technology-driven, integrated systems to grab their attention. On the other hand, by having their smartphones and laptops as constant companions, owners and operators will find it useful to look at upping their training game for industry interfacing, and daily restaurant guest services and interaction best practices.

Socially Conscience Restaurants. As diners become more and more aware of not only what they put in their bodies, but also where it comes from and how it’s grown, smart restaurant businesses should embrace their guest’s curiosity and answer that call. Taking small, first steps, such as using recycled paper to print menus and ditching plastic straws in favor of no straw at all – will lead to larger, sustainable leaps, like constructing your store(s) with LEED practices stitched into every design decision and overhauling your restaurant’s quality control procedures to improve and streamline your ordering practices. In the end, it’s about the future. Forecasting: what we do today will affect the environmental health and wellbeing we leave for our children. Let’s move forward in 2019. One sustainable step at a time.