12 Restaurant Trends You Need to Know About

Sweetgreen Chestnut Hill

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If you want to stay competitive, you need to stay current.

It’s important to pay attention to the growing food trends in the restaurant industry so you know where to lead your restaurant. Here in this post, we will dive into a few of the fading trends but also take a look into the future at the concepts that are taking off.

Trends That Are Fading

1. Frozen Yogurt

Fro-yo had a great run, but with audiences embracing paleo and dairy-free diets, fro-yo is losing popularity. In fact, you'll notice that health-consciousness is an over-riding theme in all of these trends.

2. Cupcakes

This fantastic article in Grubstreet lays out some pretty funny and interesting reasons why the cupcake craze is in a downswing. Between unintentionally becoming associated with post-breakup depression, cupcake vending machines lowering the bar for class, and an increasingly-health conscious society, cupcakes are losing popularity.

3. Gluten-Free

Some people are going to question this. Recently some people have begun to write gluten-free diets off as a fad. Paleo, on the other hand, continues to rise in popularity. Even though this dietary plan does include being gluten-free, it's positioning ("It's what the cavemen ate!") seems to have more of a scientific basis for the mainstream. This is something to think about in your menu planning.

4. All You Can Eat __________

People are starting to appreciate quality over quantity. Not only are people watching their waistlines more closely, but as the economy picks up, the price value of these concepts wains. “All you can eat” eateries will need to evolve.

Trends That Are Growing

4. Popbars

A new dessert concept will likely replace cupcakes in the marketplace, but it’s uncertain what that will be. Popbar, the NYC-based restaurant that serves gelato on a stick, is one concept that could take off.

5. Juicing


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Some may actually put this one under dying fads, but I’d say it’s holding strong. Juice bars continue to crop up around the country and perform well. Fro-yo shops who evolve their offerings to include smoothies (like Pinkberry) will serve this interest in blended beverages among consumers.

6. Build-your-own __________

The gluten-free and paleo food movements may turn out to be the next low-carb and low-fat diet trends. But what will likely stick around is people’s general awareness for the ingredients they want in their bodies, and build-your-own concepts allow restaurant goers to customize. It gives them more control and satisfaction. This concept is going to grow. One company pioneering the movement is Boloco, which lets you build your own burritos.

7. Tea

Tea has increased in popularity due to its noted health benefits and endorsement from many celebrities (Oprah’s Chai at Starbucks, for example). Tea concepts like Teavana (acquired by Starbucks) and David’s Tea are growing. Restaurants will look to incorporate tea as a drink option but will likely also experiment with it as an ingredient.

8. Healthy Kids Menus

Kid’s menus of the past have revolved around hot dogs, grilled cheese, and pizza. These are delicious, but not healthy. Today’s parents are especially health conscious and have raised kids on organic meals - fruits, veggies, and other healthier choices are not foreign to this new generation. Restaurants are wise to adapt.

9. Salads

If the growing popularity of sweetgreen or Tender Greens is any indicator, people love healthy options for creating their own salads.


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10. Bold flavors

Siracha, anybody? Tart, sour, and spicy bold flavors are gaining popularity. Like many of these trends, there is a health-conscious overtone. Many widely publicized studies have shown that those who eat spicy foods eat slower, and when you eat slower you eat less, and therefore lose more weight. Embrace the spice!

11. Drink and Paint

Boston’s Paintbar pioneered this concept that is picking up heat across the country. Basically, you pay about $30 for a night of drinking and painting, guided by an instructor who will ensure your artwork comes out looking better than your school art projects of the past. Boutique fitness (barre classes, pilates, yoga, spinning) is another examples of consumers' craving for unique, niche experiences... and their willingness to pay a premium for them. A single spin class in NY can go for $45. There’s definitely room in the marketplace for more concepts centered around drinking, eating, and unique activities.

12. Food Trucks

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Food trucks have relatively low startup costs and improved cooking technology enables you to produce food with impressively high quality despite working from the truck. Additionally, with more and more young Americans moving to or sticking around urban areas, their is a concentration of an audience on busy city streets for food trucks. We’ll continue to see them grow over the next few years.

So that’s it - if you have any other trends in mind, don’t be shy. Follow us on Twitter @GetSquadle and Tweet your ideas to us. We look forward to chatting.