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The effects of 2020 will be felt throughout our industry for years to come. While we saw too many of our favorite restaurants close their doors, the future participants of this industry could stand to benefit from some of the defining trends of 2020. Here is our list of 2021 trends to watch for and implement in your establishment.

Smaller Menus

Implementing a smaller menu offering into your restaurant can help you reduce inventory costs and waste, improve the efficiency of your restaurant, reduce labor costs and improve your guest’s experience. With occupancy restrictions and guest’s overall hesitation to dine out during these last months of the pandemic, your inventory management and control over waste become essential. A smaller menu means a smaller inventory and less time spent ordering. If an item isn’t selling, you can use that dishes ingredients to create a feature to help move that inventory while simultaneously looking for the successor of the less selling dish. With a smaller menu, the time and labor cost spent training your front and back of house staff are greatly reduced. Your guests will appreciate it as well. A smaller menu makes allows your staff to get a lot of practice at making your dishes amazing and consistent. Really hone in on what makes your restaurant, you. Let that shine through your dishes on a smaller menu. Your staff and guests will appreciate this change and you will reap the benefits.

Delivery and Take-out

2020 required restaurants to take a look at their delivery and take-out procedures. In 2021, we will still continue to see the high demand for delivery and take-out. Delivery and take-out can offer a phenomenal revenue stream beyond the pandemic. With the high competition of competing delivery restaurants now, consider offering your in-house guests an incentive to think about you next time they’re dining at home. A free dessert or a small monetary value discount can be the deciding factor when guests are deciding who to order delivery from. Consider your packaging as well. Prior to 2020, compostable and plant-based packaging was on the rise with restaurants wanting to do their part to eliminate hard-to-recycle to-go packaging. With the high demand of to-go packaging in general in 2020, that trend saw a decline. Expect to see a rise in compostable and plant-based packaging as well as a demand from your customers in 2021 and beyond.

Vegan Comfort Food and Plant-Based Meat

Vegan cuisine isn’t just about animal-cruelty any more and more about sustainability. With the post-pandemic health conscious guest looking for places to dine, vegan options may become their determining factor. Vegan comfort food and vegan cuisine being implemented into the restaurant scene was on the rise in 2019. With all of the pivots of 2020, this trend did not continue. However, expect to see it rise again in 2021 and beyond. Plant-based and lab-grown meat will be on the rise this year. Fast food chains already started implementing this last year, with Burger King’s impossible whopper, White Castle’s impossible sliders, and in 2021 McDonalds will be rolling out their McPlant burger. Vegan pork, chicken and even fish are becoming more and more popular. For restaurants that haven’t explored the vegan scene before, these meat alternatives make for an easy way to begin offering vegan options.

Virtual Cooking Classes

Virtual cooking classes are a great way to connect to your guests that aren’t in your restaurant. This new trend allows you to really connect your chef with your guests in a way we couldn’t previously. There are various ways in which to conduct a virtual cooking class. You could simply post the ingredients your viewers will need a week or so in advance of the class then walk them through, step-by-step how to create your arranged dish; or, you could take pre-orders and send a kit with all of the ingredients as well as any pre-prepped items that are too labor intensive for the class. Virtual cooking classes could be demonstrating how to make one of your dishes from a past or current menu, or could be a simple common recipe that focuses more on teaching your viewers basic culinary skills. Either way, your chef will be in their kitchen teaching them something valuable and put your chef and your restaurant front of mind when deciding to dine out.

Touchless Menus

Due to 2020 and the pandemic, guests are less willing to share menus with guests they don’t know. Reducing your guests touch points will continue to be an important factor for a long time to come. Disposable menus and laminated menus saw a rise in 2020, but with those comes many cons. Disposable menus and laminated menus can be costly and wasteful. Throwing away a disposable menu for every guest that comes through your door will cost you heavily in printing and paper costs. Laminated menus can quickly become crumpled and need to be thrown away. Not all laminate sheets are easily cleaned and some can become warped. Providing your guests with a Touchless Menu that they can view directly on their phone is a simple and easy-to-use alternative that provides you with many additional benefits. With Touchless Menu, you can make quick and immediate changes to your smaller menu from your computer without needing to reprint or re-laminate menus. Add and remove features instantly or even promote your upcoming events, such as a virtual cooking class, right on their phone while they’re in your restaurant. Touchless Menus also make it easier for guests who are hard of sight to see your menu by being able to zoom into your menu easily and a lit screen. Touchless Menus are here to stay beyond the 2020 pandemic and your restaurant can benefit greatly from them.