Now Trending: Eating Out Again February 11, 2022

We’ve been apart for too long. Our spirits are hungry for friendship and date night again. Now, we fully understand how much our favorite places on the corner and down the road truly mean to us.

group of friends dining outdoorsEarly Bird Is the New Normal

Everybody working from home is ready to leave the “office” right at 5 these days. Letting loose and getting out for some well-deserved fun is now serious business. Connection is what everyone craves. That means Millennials and Gen Xers now order entrees almost as early as grandparents traditionally do. The popular reservation time of 7:30-8-ish has been dialed back by a couple of hours. OpenTable survey data shows that early bird reservations are “up 8% as a percentage of total dinner reservations.” So, get your early on.

Connecting Is Thriving

After everything we’ve recently been through, we’re starved for company, camaraderie, and breaking bread communally. OpenTable says that “single-diner reservations are down 15%” and reservations for two-tops and four-tops are up 3%.” Restaurants are beginning to benefit once again in a less lonely, less only world. Blind dates are back. Mom and dad are finding a babysitter and getting out to stare into one another’s eyes across a table too.

Short, Sweet Menus Will Carry On

Smaller menus seem to be here to stay. For fast food restaurants, rightsized menus make drive-through times faster and keep lines moving. Menu trimming also helps higher end restaurants manage the surge in take-out and relieve staffing issues for eat-in dining. This year, the supply chain and inflation pose the need for extra creativity and fewer offerings. If beef is hard to find this week, turkey may take its place or another protein. This new trend of shrunken menus is greener too, helping restaurants reduce food waste in the kitchen.

Plant-based Choices Are Growing

Faux proteins made of plants and purely plant-based hero entrees are both gaining in popularity. Plant-based burgers are now in supermarkets, drive-throughs, and on menus for all the right reasons. What’s more, consumers are conscious about the planet and their health. The “new flexitarian” deliberately chooses when to give traditional proteins a rest. Chefs are catering to this trend and powering up veggie creativity to stay one plate ahead.

Renewed Restaurant Appreciation and Support

Thanks to a lot of press, the public understands that the restaurant struggle has been real. No one liked seeing 10% of the restaurant population go under. So, there’s a new spirit of empathy in the air, along with an understanding that costs may be higher, and that service may be slower with staffing shortages. That’s ok for most of us now. There’s a feeling that people want to lift up their local restaurants, now truly seen as our real community centers. The people who cook, serve, and entertain us deserve extra support right now.

Outdoor Eating Spaces Keep Growing

Having the choice to eat outside is more popular than ever. OpenTable’s recent diner survey says that “82% of people want to see outdoor seating options continue to grow.” Cities and towns have eased up on the restrictions, allowing establishments to incorporate parking lot and sidewalk spaces to make this flexibility possible. Patios are also getting the green light to expand to incorporate more tables, new heating and cooling systems, and structural tweaks for enclosures that keep four-season use comfortable.

Keeping a custom project on track is essential during this time of tight restaurant profit margins. Restauranteurs should tap into expert advice on commercial-grade materials, shades, design, installation, and more. We’re happy to answer any question and point you to commercial partners as well. Because using products with integrity is always on trend.

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