The COVID-19 pandemic has hit the restaurant industry hard, but with the vaccine rollout, things are starting to return to normalcy. If you’re looking to create a better menu for 2021, check out some of our favorite restaurant menu trends to help you get your business back on track.
The pandemic taught the restaurant industry to be flexible, and one of our favorite restaurant menu idea stems from that flexibility: specific menus for specific dining experiences. Restaurants are moving to multiple menus for multiple experiences, so you may find a special patio menu for outdoor diners or a special takeout menu for takeout and delivery orders. A restaurant’s takeout menu, for example, may leave off regular menu items that don’t travel well in order to create a better curated experience for customers.
When it comes to menu trends, restaurants are starting to offer more meat alternatives to cater to vegetarians, vegans, and people who are making a concentrated effort to eat less meat. For many restaurants, that means more mushrooms on the menu. From portobello mushroom burgers to mushroom enchiladas, mushrooms take on other flavors quite well, making them a great meat alternative.
Because the pandemic highlighted certain hygiene concerns, many restaurants have shifted from physical to digital menus. Rather than offer paper menus or laminated menus that need to be cleaned between guests, many restaurants, bars, and breweries are adopting QR code menus, which diners can scan on their smartphone in order to see the menu. Other restaurants are moving toward a more digital experience, with tablets that allow people to peruse the menu, order, and pay directly from their table.
With restaurants closing or serving at below capacity for over a year, there’s an increased need for more diversified business plans. That could mean anything from adding some grocery items or restaurant sauces, condiments, and other branded merchandise to the menu to offering virtual cooking classes or selling a restaurant-inspired cookbook.
With all the uncertainty of the pandemic, it’s no surprise that one of the hottest menu ideas involves taking advantage of classic comfort food options like French fries, burgers, pizzas, mac and cheese, and lasagna. People are looking for a sense of comfort and normalcy, and nothing brings comfort like the hearty dishes from our childhood. Whether you’re looking for the best wholesale ingredients, restaurant marketing services, or menu development services, our dedicated staff has years of experience helping restaurants thrive. In the meantime, check out our foodservice blog where we cover everything from our guide to no-contact curbside takeout and delivery to how to create a profitable restaurant patio.