A number of must-watch trends are on the menu of the restaurant industry in 2019. We’re talking about everything from CBD-infused drinks and gourmet doughnuts to accepting mobile payments from literally anywhere.

Here are nine trends to keep an eye on this year.

1. CBD-Infused Drinks

Drinks infused with cannabidiol, or CBD, are popping up on cocktail menus across the country. In fact, the National Restaurant Association identifies CBD-infused drinks (as well as beverages infused with cannabis) as the No. 1 food trend of 2019.

What exactly is CBD? It’s the active ingredient in cannabis, minus the THC. (THC is the chemical in cannabis that makes you high.)

CBD “delivers a dose of relaxation and sedation, making it perfect for enjoying a cocktail (or two),” according to the restaurant and hospitality consulting firm af&co.

2. Zero-Waste Cooking

An increasing number of customers are concerned about the issue of food waste.
Zero-waste cooking calls for restaurateurs to trim the amount of food waste generated during preparation of menu items. The goal is to reduce the amount of waste that ends up in landfills.

“Zero-waste cooking is a sign of the times,” says Hudson Riehle, Senior Vice President of the Research & Knowledge Group at the National Restaurant Association.

As Riehle explained, millennials and members of Gen Z are especially concerned that restaurants adopt more eco-friendly habits. Plus, sustainable practices are also good for the bottom line.

“Not only is food waste reduction more cost-effective, it creates brand loyalty and helps protect the planet,” Riehle said. “It’s a big win for everyone.”

According to the National Restaurant Association, zero-waste cooking enables eateries to transform food scraps, damaged produce and leftovers into “culinary delights.” As one of their recent articles put it, “Chefs are taking a second look at items they trashed in the past—using coffee grinds to flavor homemade ice cream and showcasing cabbage butts in crowd-pleasing stir-fries.”

RELATED: 6 Ways Businesses Can Be Eco-Friendly While Saving Money

3. Plant-Based Foods

Vegetarians and vegans aren’t the only patrons adopting plant-based diets. Carnivores also are embracing plant-based dining as a way to improve their health.

As a result, more plant-based “meat options” are making their way onto America’s menus. According to af&co., new options include vegan seafood and cell-cultured meat—real meat grown in a lab from animal cells.

The restaurant association agrees, including plant-based burgers and sausage, veggie-centric cuisine, and plant-based proteins in this year’s restaurant trends.

RELATED: How to Serve Customers With Special Dietary Needs

4. Doughnuts

In a move that would likely make Homer Simpson, TV’s most devoted doughnut aficionado, proud, artisanal doughnut shops are opening throughout the country. Af&co. reports the new batch of doughnut makers are expanding the variety of their offerings, “including unexpected savory flavors and fillings.”

RELATED: 5 Ways to Successfully Market Your Bakery

5. Lemonade

Restaurants and other hospitality businesses are squeezing profit from traditional summer-time favorite—lemonade.

According to af&co., creative lemonade drinks are in right now. These trendy beverages include:

  • Creamy lemonade
  • Lemonade infusions, like cucumber mint lemonade with red hibiscus flower tea, for example
  • Lemonade cocktails
  • Activated-charcoal lemonade

6. Ghost Restaurants

G2 Crowd, a company that operates a platform for business-specific user reviews, says so-called “ghost restaurants” are more and more common. Such establishments forgo in-house guests and focus solely on delivery customers.

“These ghost restaurants don’t have storefronts that seat customers, simply a kitchen that prepares orders placed online,” G2 Crowd notes. “By lowering the overhead costs needed to run a restaurant’s front of house, the cost to open and operate one of these restaurants plummets. And, in a big enough kitchen, multiple ghost restaurants can operate within the same space.”

RELATED: The Restaurant Owner’s Guide to Offering Food Delivery

7. Flex Casual Restaurants

You’ve heard of “fast casual” restaurants, right? We’d like to introduce you to “flex casual” restaurants.

According to af&co., a flex casual restaurant is “a fine-dining restaurant that has different formats for different parts of the day.” This can take on a lot of different forms—like an eatery that offers casual breakfast in the morning but full-service fine dining at night.

8. Robot Service

Food robotics company Chowbotics is rolling out Sally the Robot at airports, convenience stores, offices and more, af&co. says. Around the clock, Sally serves up “vibrant, forward-thinking meals” via a touchscreen interface.

“Popular robotic restaurants including Creator and Spyce are further proof that robots are here to stay,” af&co. adds.

9. Mobile Payment Technology

Traditional cash registers aren’t extinct just yet. Still, there’s no denying that mobile payment technology, including tableside payment devices, is a growing component in the restaurant revolution.

“Most people are extremely attached to their phones, so there’s logic behind incorporating mobile payments and other mobile solutions into a restaurant’s business model,” G2 Crowd explains. “For a consumer, the ability to order and pay from a mobile device speeds up the process dramatically.”

In 2017, use of mobile payment technology at U.S. restaurants soared an estimated 75%, with quick-service establishments taking the lead, according to Nation’s Restaurant News.

Aside from decreasing the number of customer touchpoints, mobile payments enable the collection of data about customer demographics and spending habits. They also encourage enrollment in mobile-friendly loyalty programs, G2 Crowd says.

G2 Crowd predicts implementation of mobile point-of-sale systems and ordering kiosks at U.S. restaurants will jump at least 30% in 2019. Meanwhile, the company forecasts that at least 40% of restaurants will start accepting mobile payments this year.

As of now, an estimated 22% to 33% of restaurants take mobile payments.

If you need some help setting up a payment system for your restaurant, Talus Pay is here for you. Connect with one of our consultants today to learn more.

KEEP READING: The Business Owner’s Guide to Payment Processing

Want to Build a Better Business?

Stay up to date on the latest business news & insights when you subscribe to the Talus blog.

Ready to Start Growing Your Business?

Connect with a consultant for your free quote or apply today in under three minutes! Just click below.