Given the major shifts in dining experiences during the past few years, the changes in the restaurant and foodservice industry will likely blur the lines between full service and fast casual dining, help resolve labor shortages, and use automation and robotics.
With this in mind, it is critical to examine the foodservice trends that will emerge in the coming year.
Robotics in Foodservice
Robotics in foodservice has become an emerging trend. According to PMR principal, Mary Roberts, "As far as 2023 trends go, I think robotics will continue to grow as restaurants look to combat labor shortages.” Almost every industry is experiencing significant labor shortages right now, and the restaurant industry is no exception. As restaurants struggle to find waiters, hosts, and even cooks, owners are turning to robots and foodservice automation.
Already, reports are emerging of restaurants and foodservice establishments that are turning to robots to help them deliver food. For example, students on college campuses can even access apps connected to local restaurants. They can then place an order and await delivery of their food.
Early results show this can be a versatile way to ensure customers and patrons get their food on time. Customer loyalty is more important than it has ever been in the past, and customers still expect to receive their food quickly. Restaurants will have difficulty meeting these expectations if there is a labor shortage. Restaurants will be able to meet the concerns of their patrons and compete in a challenging environment if they have access to versatile robots, automated kiosks, and other types of advanced technology.
Dining Experiences Are Key
Given the abundance of options available to customers, restaurants must differentiate themselves. This includes providing quality food as well as a quality dining experience.
"I think experiences will be big in 2023," Roberts said. "You see them trending a lot in the music and art arenas, but I believe that will translate into dining experiences as well.”
One of the best ways to do so is to provide customers with access to themed dining. For example, several restaurants put on an immersive experience surrounding the Stranger Things TV show, the hit Netflix show set in the 1980s. Because the show has a lot of memorable storylines, customers were able to pay homage to one of their favorite shows by ordering food and drinks specifically designed to mimic the show’s setting and story. This is just one perfect example of how restaurants can capitalize on what is happening in pop culture to provide an immersive experience.
Today, restaurants can set themselves apart by combining entertainment and dining. With themed cocktails, a certain dress code, and a program meant to impress, restaurants can endear themselves to patrons of all backgrounds. To generate ideas, operators should pay attention to what is trending in the news. Then, they can build off of that, providing an attractive option for individuals, families, and even business meals.
If restaurants can sell not just delicious food but also a unique dining experience, they will position themselves to compete during the coming year.
"We've seen dining change a lot during the last few years, and the team at PMR is here to help operators take advantage of changing trends," Roberts said. "We invite operators to visit our test kitchen to demo equipment, for menu development, or to discover new ways to increase efficiency and profitability."