Restaurant Trends In 2021

Consumers are looking for more tried-and-true than new items in the menu at restaurants in 2021, according to the 2021 Restaurant Trends Report by the National Restaurant Association or NRA.

A survey of 6,000 restaurant operators and 1,000 customers show that top Food and Menu Trends in restaurants included changes such as off-premises dining taking precedence. Top trends included streamlined menus, selling groceries and taking alcohol off the menu.

Customer demand from both full-service and limited-service restaurants were for fast-food items such as burgers, pizza, chicken items and also breakfast items. Nipping and bundling of menu items also made important impacts on operations and revenue.

The survey identified how restaurateurs demonstrated resiliency, innovation and commitment and the food and menu trends likely to stick around. However, these food and menu trends did not offset the industry’s devastation.

The year 2020 tested the limits of operator innovation, accelerated trends, and confirmed customers miss their favorite restaurant experiences. It also taught more consumers how to digitally access the restaurant meals they wanted.

Another survey in December had shown that there has been continued business deterioration across the restaurant industry, with restaurant closures and bankruptcies continuing to rise across the U.S. and job losses growing at some of the prominent restaurants.

The restaurant industry, the second-largest private-sector employer in the U.S., is among the worst hit by the coronavirus pandemic. Restaurant operators nationwide reported sharp declines in sales and employment levels in recent months following the coronavirus-induced lockdowns.

The survey showed that eighty seven percent of these full-service restaurants reported an average 36 percent drop in sales revenue. Eighty three percent of restaurants expect sales to be even worse over the next three months.

As of the first week of December 2020, 17 percent of restaurants or more than 110,000 establishments are closed permanently or long-term. The majority of these include well-established businesses, and fixtures in their communities, most of them being in business for an average of 16 years, and about 16 percent for at least 30 years.

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