As restaurants shift away from the traditional, operators must be nimble. The world is changing fast, and business leaders will have to adapt with speed and agility. Constant innovation and speed-to-market will help restaurants thrive as they serve guests where and when they want to be served.
1. The definition of “restaurant” will change. The digital world and evolving consumer preferences are resulting in an array of restaurant models aimed at giving customers what they want, when and where they want it. Some restaurants will morph into a hybrid model, offering counter service, full service, takeout and delivery, and meal kits. The delivery-only restaurant is on the rise through virtual restaurants and “ghost kitchens.” New food halls feature retail and restaurant pairings to make it easy for people both to eat and to shop for food they can take home.
2. Off-premises opportunities will drive industry growth. The increasing demand for off-premises meals is transforming the restaurant industry and operators will need to find ways to tap into this new revenue channel. Delivery orders are booming, and business models are shifting fast to find ways to serve that customer base. The shift affects everything from restaurant design to marketing, tech investment, operations, and site selection.
3. Margin pressures will continue. Labor costs, real-estate costs, and increasing investments in delivery and technology will continue to put pressure on the restaurant P&L. There will be a strong motivation to automate routine back-of-house tasks in restaurant kitchens and bars, as well as escalate the use of kiosks and digital ordering.
4. Data is king. Restaurants will see new opportunities to apply data analytics to predict and capitalize on consumer demand and optimize supply economics.
5. Restaurants will serve — and employ — a different demographic. The U.S. population and labor force will be the most diverse it’s ever been, and the workforce will include more older Americans. Restaurant operators will need to accommodate both the dining preferences and work styles of an increasingly diverse American public.
6. Recruitment, retention and training will remain top priorities. The skills and talent restaurants seek in their workforce will evolve to support a new technology ecosystem. Restaurants will compete with other industries for tech talent. Benefits will be critical to recruiting and retaining employees. Technology-based training, certifications, and internal career paths will be increasingly important tools to retain valuable employees.
7. Technology will drive tremendous advances in food safety, food sourcing, and sustainability. As the supply chain grows increasingly complex, operators will leverage block chain and other new traceability technologies, ingredient and sourcing data, automated food safety management systems, and advances in utility and waste management to become more efficient, transparent organizations.
8. Government will be a greater factor in everything operators do. In addition to the federal government, state and local governments may continue to add to the legislation, taxation and regulation affecting restaurant operators.
9. Sustainability isn’t just a buzzword. It’s an important way to drive costs down as well as showcase the industry’s efforts to attract and serve the growing number of guests who are interested in everything about sustainability — from restaurant packaging to food sourcing.
10. Restaurants will continue to bring people together. Hospitality, excellence in service, and engagement in local communities will remain the hallmark of the restaurant industry. That strong commitment to guests and consumers of every type will be core to the industry’s identity in 2030 as operators innovate and thrive in an age of increasing technology.
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