We don’t need to remind you that 2020 was tough on your restaurant. Having to grapple with increased demand at irregular intervals coupled with limitations imposed by various restrictions, made life very difficult on your supply chain. It wasn’t an easy year, but let’s see what the world of trends has in store for restaurants in 2021 and what you can do to make the most of them.

Takeout isn’t going away

The virus isn’t showing signs of abating anytime soon, so it’s safe to say that this trend is likely to continue in the coming months. Establishments that want to thrive, and not just survive, should seek new ways to boost carryout sales by offering specials, providing free or inexpensive deliveries and developing creative methods to package and present to-go meals. And most importantly, make it easier for customers to place takeout orders by streamlining menus and the online ordering process.

Press that refresh button

The concept of business as usual will no longer cut it. For example, take a Copenhagen restaurant called Noma. After a harsh lockdown, the Michelin Star eatery reopened and offered burgers and Basque cookies instead of its meticulously curated menu featuring high-end entrées. This is because the team understood that the landscape had changed and that fewer patrons could afford an extravagant dining experience.

A strong measure of creativity is likely to be required to survive the coming year. Dining establishments can attract diners who are watching their spending by altering their menus and offering unique restaurant experiences.

Maintain safety measures

We may have adapted to our new way of living but in some restaurants, safety has taken a back seat. So ensure not to overcrowd your restaurant or forgo safety inspections like temperature checks and logging the details of patrons. If you don’t take safety seriously, some patrons may be reluctant to return to your restaurant.

Virtual cooking classes

Why not give your social accounts a boost by hosting a virtual cooking class? I’m sure your patrons will appreciate this. You don’t always have to sell food and attract patrons to your restaurant. Think of a virtual cooking class as indirect marketing and give your patrons a behind-the-scenes look at your restaurant.

Live streaming allows you to build a human connection with your patrons. This is a crucial piece of social restaurant marketing and encourages people to participate. You will expand the reach of your marketing message if people can see your face and hear your story.

The elephant in the room

Restaurants have already incorporated pandemic messaging into their advertising campaigns. For example, Nando’s uses lines such as “Lock down your hunger with Nando’s” and “Your place, not ours (for now)”. You have to get creative if you want to attract attention.

Offer your patrons time-limited deals. If last year’s Black Friday fail was any indication, it taught us that you have to offer your customers real bargains. People know when they’re being duped. For example, if you own a cafe, offer a two-for-one deal like a healthy sandwich paired with an immune-boosting smoothie for free. Put a genuine effort into it and don’t make it seem like you’re just trying to boost your sales.

And there you have it, the restaurant trends to live by in 2021. If you would like to become even more digitally savvy, give our e-book, Restaurants in The Digital Age, a read.

Author : Rudi Badenhorst