5 Restaurant Trends for 2017

The New Year will inevitably bring a new crop of food trends for restaurant owners and operators to navigate. From regulatory changes to nontraditional restaurant concepts, 2017 is poised to be another eventful year in the dining world.

Here are five food trends projected to have a significant impact on restaurant operations in the year to come.

Prioritizing plants

Vegetables are no longer exclusive to salads and sides. With nearly 23 million Americans embracing the “flexitarian” diet – enjoying primarily vegetarian dishes with the occasional meat indulgence – more restaurants are adding veggie-centric entrees to their menus.

This phenomenon has created the new culinary art of “plant butchery” – using vegetables, beans and their byproducts to recreate the experience of carnivore favorites – think burgers and ribs  –  without the meat. While you don’t need to give your menu a complete overhaul, consider experimenting with a few more vegetable-based dishes.

No waste left behind

The Environmental Protection Agency introduced the country’s first-ever national food waste goal in 2015, outlining a 50 percent reduction by 2030. Meeting this goal depends on participation from a number of groups – including diners and food manufacturers – but restaurants are increasingly doing their part to curb waste.

Chefs are finding innovative ways to recycle items that typically wind up in the garbage disposal – such as homemade stocks using bones and vegetable scraps, or sauces bolstered by overripe fruit  – and your restaurant can join along.

Menu transparency

Another government-driven food trend for 2017 is the push for clearer menu labeling. Beginning in May, restaurants with at least 20 locations will be required to list calorie information for “standard” menu items and even alcoholic beverages, in accordance with a new Food and Drug Administration mandate.

Sit-down restaurant operations aren’t the only ones affected by the new rule – take-out and delivery menus will need to be updated as well. Now is a better time than ever to sit down and assess your menu to see if minor, healthy tweaks can be made before the regulation goes into place. As an added bonus – regulations aside – customers appreciate as much transparency as possible when it comes to restaurant menus.

Bolder breakfasts

Breakfast is reclaiming its status as most important meal of the day, with U.S. morning meal consumption expected to grow 5 percent by 2019. Since McDonald’s rolled out its All-Day Breakfast in 2015, more restaurants have followed suit with their own updated, expanding morning options. Heading into the new year, expect to see a surge in customizable, convenient breakfast sandwiches and ingredients that go beyond bacon and eggs – like fried chicken and chimichurri.

Food halls

From Revival and Latinicity in Chicago to Avanti in Denver or Hudson Eats in New York City, European-style food halls are becoming one of the trendiest dining formats for urban dwellers across the country. For diners, food halls not only offer abundant choice, but also the opportunity to support local small businesses. As a restaurant owner, food halls can be a low-risk alternative for expansion, compared to leasing or buying new standalone property.

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