We already know how quickly the restaurant industry can change. Rapid changes in consumer behaviors during COVID-19 introduced widespread disruption in the food service industry. And each year, restaurant tech innovation continues to move the needle on what restaurants need and customers expect. 

Restaurants must stay relevant by embracing technology to modernize their operations and be a disruptive force that leads to the success of the food service industry. 

To help food service professionals keep up with these changing expectations and technologies, here are five key restaurant industry trends you need to know in 2022. 

Stay up to date on the latest changes to the food industry by keeping an eye on and embracing these five key restaurant industry trends. 

1. “Restaurpreneurs” will continue to rise.   

“Restaurpreneur” is a name used for entrepreneurs who want to build their presence in the food service industry. They are professionals and budding chefs who want to set up their restaurants with minimum capital, quickly experiment with their ideas, and disrupt or change the industry with their culinary skills. 

Restaurpreneurs typically don’t have enough money or funding to get real estate to test their experiment, and they don’t want to run into the nuances of setting up and running a physical restaurant. 

But, they can get started with just three things to validate their idea and make it valuable.

  • Cloud Kitchen: One of the key metrics to validate the rise of restaurpreneurs is the growth of global cloud kitchens, which is growing at a CAGR of 12% from 2021 to 2027 and is estimated to reach $71 billion by 2027, per an Allied Market Research report. North America is expected to hold the largest market in cloud kitchens followed by China and India. With cloud kitchens, there’s no need to invest in real estate or pay a premium for renting space. You only need to focus on the food and its safety and quality.
  • Delivery Partnership: With delivery partnerships, restaurpreneurs can manage online deliveries of food by paying fees per order to delivery partners. Or, they can also manage delivery on their own if they want to try their idea with a smaller user segment within a manageable delivery radius on their own.
  • POS System: Restaurpreneurs can use a restaurant POS system that is also a digital storefront where patrons can order and pay for food online. Online POS systems can host digital menus and provide coupons to entice customers to order food online. In addition to online ordering, restaurpreneurs can also manage the digital marketing for their restaurant using marketing tools embedded in these platforms.

2. Technical innovation will improve customer experience.

Artificial intelligence and machine learning are a boon for the food-tech industry. For example, virtual-assistant-based ordering is used by a quarter of users in developed economies aged 15-30 years. Machine learning in online food delivery enables businesses to get deep insights about user food preferences which helps restaurants curate specific menus to target the needs of their customers. 

There are many more use cases of AI/ML as it allows restaurant owners to discover: 

  • Emerging food trends based on billions of data analysis
  • Top listings of restaurants in search queries
  • Actionable feedback from reviews and feedback from customers 

It’s just the start of AI/ML brilliance in the food-tech space. Such technical innovations will only result in profitable and scalable food businesses — if food providers are willing to adapt and leverage the power of technical innovations to constantly meet the needs of their customers.

Related: The Importance of Online Ordering and Delivery for Restaurants

3. Restaurants will receive more revenue-based financing.

It’s no secret that half of the small-size restaurants shut their doors within the first three years of their establishment. One of the key reasons, among several, is the lack of access to sufficient capital to cover up the running costs of daily operations and meeting the needs and wants of happy employees. 

Small business owners need capital resources, and they often don’t have enough credit history to secure loans from banks. That’s where the concept of revenue-based financing comes to the rescue of such small establishments. 

Revenue-based financing or royalty-based financing (RBF) is a type of financial capital provided to small or growing businesses in which investors or fintech platforms inject capital into a business in return for a fixed percentage of ongoing gross revenues. 

Lenders don’t need to go through lengthy paperwork, and eligibility is determined solely based on history with online ordering platforms. There’s no credit check and no complicated application process. Funds typically arrive the next business day of application approval, and repayment is fully automated and adjusted to daily sales. Platforms deduct a fixed percentage of sales until the total owed is repaid.

4. Adoption of automation will grow.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, restaurants faced several challenges. Almost all restaurants around the globe understood the need of online ordering and digital payments to survive during the pandemic. Additionally, they saw staff crunches and disrupted supply chains that impacted managing inventories manually. 

To entice customers to keep ordering online, they needed to be creative in their restaurant menus otherwise restaurants couldn’t retain their repeatable customers. As a result, restaurant owners resorted to using tools that can help them to automate restaurant operations wherever possible. They started using:

Most industry-leading cloud-enabled restaurant technology platforms offer these automation solutions which will help restaurants to optimize and improve daily operations, grow revenue, and get more business insight towards delightment of customers. 

These automation tools give restaurant owners time to concentrate on the most important part of their business which is using creativity and innovation to curate menu items that delight their customers. 

5. More menus will become “smart.” 

A smart restaurant menu keeps restaurants popular and profitable. It combines the art of culinary skills and the science of analytic data to provide deep insight into the performance of each menu item. 

Every restaurant needs to strive to design a profitable menu that entices customers whether it’s a dine-in or an online ordering establishment. Knowing the high- and poor-performing items per user segment helps restaurateurs build a targeted menu that not only generates higher revenue per order, but also helps to reduce waste and operation costs. 

Building a menu is not a straightforward task. It’s essential to know the right metrics to build a profitable menu. Restaurateurs need data like:

  • Competitor offerings
  • Marketing costs
  • Customer acquisition costs
  • Targeted user segments and their behaviors
  • Labor costs
  • Inventory costs
  • Restaurant peak hours 

Many more statistics help to create a menu that keeps a restaurant profitable, scalable, and enticing to customers. Thus, it’s imperative for restaurants to partner with the right food-tech platforms that can help them gather these insights. 

Read More: Your Guide to Restaurant Analytics and Reporting

Keep Up with Restaurant Industry Trends and Changes 

These five restaurant industry trends are already happening, and there are many more disruptions coming, like drone deliveries and AR/VR driven ordering and eating experiences. 

The COVID-19 pandemic wreaked havoc in the hospitality industry and showed us just how quickly things can change. Those who adopted technology and embraced the digital way of working have not only survived, but they have also added plenty of opportunities for business growth. 

Restaurant owners who acknowledge change and embrace technology and modern ways of working will sustain and grow. 

If you want to keep your food service business in line with these 2022 restaurant industry trends, let’s talk. Lavu offers leading restaurant management solutions and technology that can help your restaurant keep up with changing times.