On average, Americans eat out 5.9 times per week, so it is no surprise that restaurants and dining out is a big topic in commercial real estate. The “recession-proof” industry is changing rapidly, just like retail.
Let’s take a look at some of the trends surrounding the restaurant and food industry for 2020.
Immersive Dining Experiences
People are looking for ‘experiences’ when they go to a restaurant, just like when visiting a retail store. Diners want to feel like they are part of the cooking experience and see how their food is made. Open kitchen concepts, table side cooking, chef’s tables, and supper clubs offer a interactive, and immersive dining experience that customers will ultimately pay more for.
Like brick and mortar retail vs online shopping, restaurants are providing these types of experiences to avoid in-restaurant dining getting replaced by food delivery.
The boom of food delivery has caused restaurants to re-evaluate how they manage orders. That is where the Ghost Kitchen comes in. A ghost kitchen (also known as a cloud kitchen, virtual kitchen, or commissary kitchen) is food prep and cooking facility that is used for delivery-only meals. A ghost kitchen eliminates the labor burden, and allows restaurants to expand their delivery business.
Ghost kitchens are popping up in Europe and the UK, but many U.S. companies are raising funds to expand this concept to the states. Delivery services like UberEats and DoorDash are also increasing the demand for this concept.
Plastic straws have been a major conversation for the past few years, but restaurants are being more mindful on the use of plastics in every aspect of the dining experience. The increase in take-out and food delivery has restaurants interested in using more sustainable packaging and finding creative ways to reduce waste.
Many restaurants have announced plans to phase out the use of plastic cutlery, styrofoam cups, and single-use plastic containers. Government regulations on the materials that can and cannot be used, like plastic bag bans, are also impacting the industry.
Plant-based meat and protein has become a lot more mainstream over the past few years, especially with the introduction of brands like Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat. Plant-based meat isn’t reserved just for high end restaurants – fast food giants like Burger King, Subway and Dunkin Donuts are introducing options for the masses.
The trend of plant-based, vegetarian and vegan items doesn’t stop at burgers – many restaurants are offering dairy-free cheese, desserts, milk and other alternative to appeal to the evolving customer base.