5 Tectonic Shifts and Challenges Facing Restaurant Owners and Operators in 2017

As we move into 2017, our team is ready to take on new business and guide our established clients to successful restaurant and hospitality endeavors. An important part of our business practices is forecasting the trends we see as viable industry practices, ideas, and evolutions for the coming year.

Our biggest callout? Sustainability. The importance of leaving this planet better than how we found it, is a continued, evolving source of interest, education, and involvement.

Here are the Top Five Tectonic Shifts and Challenges We See Facing Restaurant Owners and Operators in 2017.

  1. Food Trend: Hand-Pulled Noodles. One of the most beloved, versatile global food items, the noodle, is experiencing a rebirth. Enter: the hand-pulled noodle. And yes, these specialized hand-pulled long, flat, and oftentimes perfectly chewy noodles are as wonderful as they sound. In fact, we’ve begun guiding clients on incorporating hand-pulled noodles dishes on their menus. From Chinese shop style signature cumin lamb with cabbage and spicy chili oil and beef & pork meatballs to curry chicken and drunken beef style with bok choy and bean sprouts, hand-pulled noodles pair well with just about any protein and/or vegetable and will prove a dish superstar.
  1. Sustainable Seafood: Championing a Necessary Cause. For Today. For Tomorrow. We appreciate the importance of continuing to educate ourselves, and our clients, in making responsible purchasing and therefore menu offerings in order to champion global, sustainable seafood. This issue should, and will, remain part of our restaurant and hospitality dialogue, both in recognizing progress already made and looking to the future as our responsible choices make even more of an environmental impact.
  1. This Isn’t Your Mom & Pop Shop: Farmer-Owned Restaurant Partnerships Take Flight. We love this trend as a source of sustainability at its best. One of our largest clients, Founding Farmers, has been pioneering the farmer-owned concept since its first DC-area restaurant opened in 2008. Partnering with North Dakota Farmers Union, Founding Farmers principles are steeped in their efforts to “take people back to the source; to the foods that are grown, raised, and harvested on American family farms…to affirm that family farming was, and remains, essential to our nation’s well-being.” As our industry becomes more mindful of the importance of sustainable responsibility, we see the concept of getting back to our nation’s roots, if you will, trending into 2017 and beyond.
  1. Reducing Waste: New Takes on Sustainability Efforts. Our team sees a growing interest in the importance of minimizing food waste, both in the industry as a whole and in consumer’s habits. Some trending examples we’ve seen are: making better use of kitchen scrapes such as using strawberry tops to infuse vodka, making pesto with carrot tops, and distilling proprietary spirits in-house. Seek out and experiment with new and improved avenues to recycle and reuse in your restaurant kitchens to improve your bottom line and sustainability strengths.
  1. Delivery Makes its Mark on a New Generation. Last year we highlighted restaurant To Go services as a great way to capture a whole new breed of guests: those who love your restaurant but sometimes prefer eating in the comfort of their own home. Now, our team is spotlighting a new take on delivery making its mark: delivery-only restaurants. These business prototypes (i.e. online restaurants) are a prudent way to save on operating costs since instead of a brick and mortar space, these outposts require little more than a commercial kitchen, culinary/online teams, and delivery staff. We see the key to success here as: a) using the power of social media to market your b) brand of fresh, delicious, high-quality food. Marry the two with an interesting, well-executed marketing plan and concise menus – and you just might be in business.