Immersed in the vibrant world of the restaurant industry, Scott Kemeling’s aspirations transcend the ordinary. With a burning desire to own and operate his own culinary venture, Scott envisions a future where his restaurant becomes a beacon of innovation and taste. In the following article, Scott Kemeling of Georgia delves into the evolving tapestry of post-pandemic food trends, weaving together insights that promise to reshape and redefine the very essence of the dining experience.
Dining out is one of life’s greatest simple pleasures – and one of our biggest businesses! In 2023, as our culture enters a new post-pandemic era of increased social interaction, community mindedness, and environmental consciousness, restaurants are evolving and adapting with the times to better serve their communities.
Scott Kemeling of Georgia explores below some of the top culinary trends in the modern restaurant landscape.
Scott Kemeling Discusses the Rise of Fast Casual
As customers lean toward more healthier dining options, one would think that fast food chains would fall by the wayside. But there are still customers clamoring for Big Macs, as well as diners seeking healthier fare in a fast casual atmosphere.
Post-pandemic, restaurants are making an effort to offer increased delivery options from at-home dining, including custom ordering websites, traditional phone delivery orders, and partnerships with delivery apps like UberEats, GrubHub, DoorDash, and Postmates.
Scott Kemeling says that for customers, the availability, safety, and convenience of online ordering is unmatched. Restaurants also benefit from online ordering because it allows them to gather customer data, increases efficiency, and reduces food waste. Although working with outside app partners can cut into restaurant profits by up to 30%, they can often more than make it up on the other end due to increased volume of sales.
Popularity of Plant Based
Diners looking for healthier options are gravitating toward plant-based recipes. There are an estimated 8.8 million vegans worldwide, and over 1.5 billion vegetarians, so it is in a restaurant’s best interest to have at least several options available for customers who might not want to consume meat. There are also now many “flexitarians,” people who are not strictly vegetarian but lean that way for health, environmental, or philosophical reasons.
Scott Kemeling of Georgia says that there are many tasty alternatives to animal proteins that restaurants can incorporate into their menus, such as tofu, couscous, and quinoa. “Impossible” meat substitutes that mimic the taste of beef, chicken, and pork are also increasingly popular menu additions.
Scott Kemeling notes that diners are not only health-conscious, they also care more about the environment, especially in the face of climate change, and they expect their favorite restaurants to prioritize sustainability as well. A recent study showed that 20% of diners are interested in sustainable food production, with 41% especially concerned with meat production, which has been proven to contribute to global warming. Such consumers are more likely to spend their dollars at establishments that share their values.
Restaurants can institute various sustainable practices, including cooking foods that are in-season, sourcing local produce and sustainable meat, serve local and organic alcohol, provide recyclable packaging, and donate excess food to needy groups in the community.
A survey from the National Restaurant Association showed that 70% of consumers are hungry for in-restaurant dining post-pandemic. After several years of at-home and to-go dining, customers are ready to go back to restaurants for both culinary and social engagement.
Not only do consumers want to stick close to home, they also enjoy restaurants that invest in their community in the ways noted above, and even grow their own food. There is a popular trend now of rooftop or backyard herb growing among small independently-owned restaurants. This is also smart for the restaurant – not only is it cheaper than having to work with a supplier, it also can combat supply chain issues and delivery delays.
Scott Kemeling says that while diners are enjoying dining out within their community, that doesn’t necessarily mean they want to stick to the same-old, same-old. Diners are hungry to try exotic and international flavors and dishes – all with an eye toward authenticity, diversity, and inclusion.
Supplying a taste of global flavors has become a priority for restaurants in recent years. The most popular ethnic foods in the United States in 2022 were Latin, Asian, and Mediterranean. Keep in mind that introducing these elements to your menu may require purchasing additional equipment or ordering extra ingredients, so budget time and money accordingly.
Scott Kemeling of Georgia explains that during the pandemic, many customers became nervous about paying in traditional ways with waiters and cashiers due to social distancing standards. Restaurants began introducing payments kiosks, which require little to no human interaction and are easy to sanitize. Even post-COVID, many restaurants are maintaining their kiosks for customer ease and comfort.
Restaurants are incorporating their customers’ values when it comes to health and sustainability, and providing more flexible options for payment and delivery to grow their business and meet demand.