It’s always been a bit difficult to predict which trends are going to have staying power and which are just fads that are going to fade away. However, here are some thoughts and ideas representing a mixture of local and overseas foodservice trends that are expected to impact dining out in 2015.
Although the South African economy remains tight and disposable income of consumers is stretched, new and innovative foodservice concepts will succeed in attracting them to our restaurants.
1) Booking through the Internet
The concept of making reservations and ordering food online is taking off, although it’s still in its infancy. When fully developed, you can expect to be able to book a table online, view the menu and order your food so it’s ready when you arrive. Presently, most restaurants listed online rely on emails or phone calls, but customers can view menus and prices online.
2) Using a Smartphone to Pay for Food
The use of smart phones for payments is expected to become more popular. Linked to this is the concept of using phones and tablets to place orders, saving time for customers who are waiting to be served by a waitron in a busy establishment.
3) New and Unusual Foods
Some of the trends noticed overseas include the introduction of unusual foods. Vegetables are becoming more popular in place of meat-intensive meals, and choices include unusual root vegetable such as parsnips, ginger, celery and sweet potatoes. Expect to see more indigenous foods prepared in new ways, and the possible introduction of foods from far eastern countries such as Korea and Vietnam.
4) Speciality Drinks
Craft beers are now common and diners can expect to see them offered even more widely. There is a possibility of some consolidation among micro-brewers as they slowly but surely become more commercialised. Cocktails are expected to get a boost from new inventive recipes that stimulate the taste buds.
For those preferring non-alcoholic drinks, there’s a strong demand for healthy fruit juices prepared freshly in the restaurant without preservatives.
5) Casual Dining
There’s a trend towards informal and casual dining establishments that offer fine food. Guests are looking for an environment where they can relax, take their time and enjoy their food without any fuss. Many options exist, from food bars to diners, with the emphasis on good food, self-service and a relaxed atmosphere. This offers great scope for originality and boldness, especially for establishments catering for the trendy set.
6) Social Responsibility
This is an interesting trend that is definitely emerging overseas, especially in the U.S. and hopefully in South Africa. For too long waitrons have been treated as a necessary evil, often paid poorly and sometimes treated badly. Yet, they are the real face of a restaurant and a happy workforce means happy customers. Important facets include management training in employee relations, fair employment policies and ensuring waitrons earn enough money to be able to have a reasonable lifestyle. Customers are expected to take notice of such things and make choices accordingly.
Now it’s your turn. What foodservice trends do you foresee in the coming year? Leave a comment below.
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