Trends

Keeping the foodservice equipment marketplace up to date with the latest menu and concept trends.

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Between restaurants situated on or near farms to outdoor farm dining and rooftop gardens, some operators are taking the local sourcing one step closer to home.

A strong beverage program with culinary-inspired cocktails, often using small batch spirits and seasonal produce, along with properly-tapped craft brews and a thoughtful selection of wines has become just as important as the food.

With Milllennials growing into their adult years, many flock to the restaurant industry in search of fine food and drink and socialization opportunities, but also for employment.

With food costs rising and profit margins slimming, restaurants — including quick-serve chains — now place greater emphasis on alcohol sales. As a result, restaurants' bar and/or lounge spaces are more central to the operation than ever before.

With more access to funding for franchises versus a larger, publicly-funded model, chains are looking to expand the franchise way.

 Flexibility in menu construction and equipment use has become the name of the game for today’s kitchens, and that will undoubtedly ring true for many years to come. But when designing kitchens that can withstand the tests of time, allowing for lean foot prints, sustainable foodservice practices and the needs of a changing consumer demographic will be equally important.

Though many restaurants have returned to traditional brick and mortar locations, food trucks remain a driving force in the industry and an avenue of opportunity for kitchen design and equipment.

With consumers' maintaining healthy appetites for Mexican-inspired cuisine, fast-casual and quick-service operators continue to enhance their menus and expand their network of locations.

For the last few years, companies have centered efforts on reducing carbon footprints through sourcing locally, reducing energy use and cutting down on waste. Now, some food companies are taking the extra step to reduce water not just in equipment and usage changes, but also in the reduction of meat served.

Four years ago, the University of Texas (UT) at Austin embarked on a complete renovation project of its dining facilities and kitchens. The fourth and final phase, completed last year at Jester Second Floor Dining Room, helped seal the deal on the university's plans to create a more sustainable dining and meal preparation environment for students, faculty and staff.

Regulations surrounding new federal dietary laws and the nutritional lunches schools must now serve kids will impact foodservice kitchen design and equipment selection in the future. At the same time, many high schools are building separate commercial kitchens to satisfy a growing demand for culinary education.

A testament to TacoTime's success is the longevity of its franchisees, many of whom have been in business for 30 to 40 years.

Consumers might not want healthy food, but they want the option on the menu, when possible. Fresher vegetables, good-for-you oils and wholesome, less processed ingredients, combined with more from-scratch cooking for that authentic taste, more nutritious eating has taken hold in all sectors, and especially in schools as a result of new regulations.

When John Kunkel came up with the concept for Lime Fresh Mexican Grill in 2005, his goal was to create a fast-casual eatery that reflected the vibrancy and food-conscious culture of Miami's South Beach.

The time-old method of vacuum-sealing and water-bathing proteins and other foods for gentle, moisture-laden slow cooking has made a comeback as chefs and operators seek consistency and ease-of-use amidst labor shortages and turnover.

Menu labeling and insurance mandates loom large for the foodservice industry.

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