While restaurant menu trends such as Sriracha-spiced dishes and vegetable-centric entrees may be tasty in 2016, they could lose flavor by 2017. But you can bet that the functional restaurant design trends outlined below will be around for a longer haul.
1. Locally-sourced and Natural Materials
The use of natural and locally-sourced materials will continue to define the modern vision of restaurant interiors. An emphasis on recycled, rustic and industrial materials will give interiors an open, industrial feel. Elements such as rope, organic wood, and stone add important texture while continuing the theme of natural materials. Together, these materials help communicate a natural, unassuming ambience that allows the food to be the star. Interior designers also suggest adding a touch of contrast to the hard-edged natural materials by incorporating soft fabrics or paper elements.
2. Technology Integration in Restaurants
Tech-savvy Millennial and Generation Z expectations will drive tech integration in 2016; but the results of streamlined services and ordering efficiency will please all generations. Well-designed digital menus, menu backlighting, and touch screen ordering will make ordering quicker, easier, and more pleasant. These high-tech gadgets benefit restaurant owners by allowing them to quickly and easily update menu items and prices and provide appropriate recommendations for drinks or side dishes while reducing labor costs.
In addition to the use of technology for ordering, tech integration will enhance restaurant ambiance with built-in large-screen TVs, music sound systems, noise control, ambiance systems, and even cell phone charging stations. Behind the scenes, new scheduling and inventory management systems will allow for more well-organized and transparent restaurant operations. Clearly, technology will play an increasingly important role in restaurant design and functionality aimed at providing a better customer experience, lending itself to higher customer checks, more efficient service, and reduced labor costs.
3. Open Kitchen with a View
Customers have had a taste of the open kitchen concept over the past several years. And they love it. So here's the twist: Customers want VIP seating with a view of the kitchen! The open concept has been employed in all types of eateries, from local pizza restaurants to fine dining. Fast-casual restaurants such as Chipotle have led the trend in open concept kitchens, but restaurants such as Yard House and Mellow Mushroom are paving the way with seating that overlooks the food preparation and bar areas. The open kitchen is attractive to customers because it gives the customer a unique experience. And perhaps more importantly, the open kitchen provides transparency and confidence that trained staff are preparing fresh ingredients in a clean kitchen.
Does an open kitchen concept affect the bottom line? You bet! Experts note that open kitchen concepts lead to increased checks in part because customers linger longer. In addition, a fresh, new look creates a more pleasing atmosphere which leads to more frequent visits.
4. Tech Delivery
Delivery isn't just for pizza anymore. More fast-casual restaurants have entered the game. Food delivery, especially in urban areas, will grow even more in 2016. Several delivery services are ready to deliver your restaurant food -- Delivery Dudes, UberEATS, Amazon Prime Now, Grub Hub, Door Dash, Postmates, and Google.
According to Jonathan Marek of RunningRestaurants.com, "...restaurants will need to weigh the benefits that delivery serves up against the challenges it brings to the table. Some restaurants will see that offering delivery attracts new guests and drives more frequent orders, while others may wrestle with the challenge of losing sales from impulse add-on items and the opportunity to upsell guests."  Whether you like it or not, Delivery Dudes or Grub Hub drivers may soon show up at your door. Get your strategy in place, determine where they should pick up, and get ready to greet them at the door.
Technology integration may steal the show in 2016, but several other trends are close behind. Whether you are considering upgrading the functionality of your restaurant, updating the design to face the competition, or integrating new technology like over 70% of restaurant owners polled in a recent survey, StoreTech+co can be your partner in the process.
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For assistance with your restaurant construction project, contact us at (561) 272-4655.