Where is the Restaurant Industry Going in 2023?
The past couple of years have been trying for restaurateurs and managers alike. As 2023 approaches, we look at what restaurants should begin taking advantage of now in order to maximize their potential ROI in the coming year. From online ordering to QR code menus, and an emphasis on curbing inflation and rising food costs, 2023 will prove to be challenging but also fruitful.
Regardless whether you’re in the front or back of house, we’ve made predictions for you.
Front of House
As this is where your customers are first going to experience your restaurant, we’re starting at the front of house. As we saw from 2020 – 2022, there was an emphasis on cleanliness and reducing the amount of contact patrons had with shared materials. We anticipate this continuing through 2023, but for different reasons.
We’ve seen a significant increase in the number of not only orders, but the number of platforms available for restaurants to take advantage of. This began out of necessity, and we’ve seen it continue out of convenience. And that’s great news for restaurateurs! Restaurants that implement a third-party delivery service typically see increases of 10-20% in sales volume. So which platform should you use? There’s the heavy hitters such as Uber Eats, SkipTheDishes, GrubHub in addition to your local delivery platforms, and each of them have their own benefits. The larger platforms will have a much larger reach for potential customers, while local platforms may have lower fees. Each of you will have a different threshold of what’s acceptable for fees, or whether your customers will accept a price increase for the delivery, and it will ultimately determine whether you’ll pursue one of the larger platforms, a local platform, or just going with in-house delivery services and systems that are on the market.
QR Code Menus
As mobile phones and handheld devices become more powerful, the ability to convey information to your customers becomes easier. Not only do QR code menus make it safer for patrons, it also makes it easier for you! Price and menu updates can be done easily and efficiently, and you won’t have to continually be printing new menus. This will also assist those of you operating in climates that have cold temperatures, as you’ll be able to have a QR code on the door that people can scan and go back to their vehicles or a warm space to review, instead of standing in the cold and potentially blocking your entrance. You should have some physical menus for those who either don’t have a compatible phone, or prefer to read in print, but this will cut down on your costs substantially if you choose to make changes on a regular basis.
Emphasis on Cleanliness is Here to Stay
Over the past few years, an emphasis on cleaning in restaurants has become common, and we believe this will be continuing through 2023. Why? Because once standards such as increased cleaning has been implemented, your customers will come to expect the same experience each time they come. While this may come with an increased cost of purchasing larger quantities of cleaning supplies, you’ll reap the benefits of word-of-mouth spreading about how clean your restaurant is each time a customer comes. As we all know, reputation is everything when it comes to a restaurant’s appeal, and being known as a clean restaurant can reap great rewards. In addition to your reputation not being negatively affected, you also will lower or eliminate your chances of being closed due to a health code violation.
Now that we’ve looked at the front of house, let’s move to the back of house and see what we predict happening in 2023.
Back of House
Ingredient Substitutions Becoming More Common
As the cost of ingredients continues to rise, we anticipate more chefs will be forced to find substitute ingredients in order to keep costs down not only to manage their food cost, but to also prevent unnecessary price increases being passed on to customers. This could be as simple as changing the cut being used in specific dishes, to completely changing proteins or other ingredients entirely. In some cases, dishes may even need to be removed as they become too costly to produce and contain too many ingredients that continue to climb in cost. It’s a delicate balancing act to ensure that your food cost doesn’t continue increase while managing the customer experience and ensuring that doesn’t change.
Increasing Frequency in Changes in Supplier
In 2023, we anticipate seeing the frequency of restaurants changing suppliers increase. Many will try to maintain the relationship with their suppliers; however, as food costs continue to rise, hands will be forced.
You may have built up a great relationship with your suppliers, but if you’re unable to get ingredients on a reliable basis you may need to change. No one wants to break a relationship off, especially when it comes to be the one supplying your restaurant with ingredients; however, sometimes it’s a necessity. We recommend trying to substitute ingredients within your existing suppliers before looking at new suppliers, as this will allow you to continue your relationship while still saving costs. This may include changing ingredient brands or changing ingredients in your recipes altogether.
We’re continuing to see a rise on the emphasis of menu engineering, and expect this to continue through 2023. By working with your culinary team and taking a long look at your menu, food costs, and sales, you’ll be able to develop and refine a menu that balances the customer experience with food costs. An unfortunate cost of doing business is that some of your customers’ favourite dishes may need to be temporarily removed from the menu until the food costs drop to acceptable amounts. Doing this will give you a greater chance to succeed and make it through the tougher times until it becomes more cost effective to bring these dishes back.
These are just a few of the trends we anticipate seeing for both the back and front of house coming in 2023. What do you expect to see?