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Restaurant Trends 2018

restaurant trends

As we all stumble back to work, shaking off our collective hangover, here’s a few restaurant trends we hope to see in 2018.

I have a love/hate relationship with food trends. On one hand, it’s fun to think about what up-and-coming ideas will dominate a coming year. On the other hand, the likelihood of identifying a trend correctly is around the same as the Cleveland Browns drafting a NFL-ready QB. So instead of doing careful research and thoughtful analysis of the latest trends, I decided to keep with the times and just go fake news with it. Here’s my hastily drawn up list of the restaurant trends of 2018.

Fake Meat.
I refuse to dress this up as ‘plant-based foods’ like so many other writers ­– We’re talking about meat that is fake. We’ve all seen various permutations of veggie burgers, but now with the miracles of modern science, there’s real live fake meat (I love that sentence.) The vanguard of mainstream fake meat is the Impossible Burger. I have to admit I like their marketing – instead of appealing to vegetarians, they’re gunning for actual meat eaters (as in those who actually consume actual meat.) I look forward to a real fake meat Jucy Lucy before 2018 is done.

Pay by Phone.
With the near ubiquity of iPhones and Android phones, the payment apps have finally taken hold. The idea of going cashless doesn’t seem so farfetched now that I can drunkenly wave my phone around a box bolted to a city bus and get a ride home. Many quick-serve restaurants have added the ability to use Android or Apply Pay through their Square terminals. While I’m going to miss counting through inexplicably moist 1s and 5s when paying for poke tacos, I’m ready for a more sanitary and Instagram friendly future.

Cool Aprons.
For both FOH and BOH, aprons are a big part of the uniform. Over the years, the standard white apron has evolved into something way more reflective of modern restaurant style. As open kitchens and full sleeve tattoos have become the norm, aprons have become another design feature of restaurants. Companies like Medium Rare and Tilit have done a lot of work to redefine the restaurant apron. Designers have taken notice as well, with Chicago’s Stock Mfg Co. giving aprons an artisanal twist.

Better Stools.
Over the last 3 or so years everyone went and got the same stupid stool. It’s those metal shop stools with the fart-hole on the top. I see how this happened – the stools are cheap, durable and easy to stack and transport. However, we as an industry – as a community – can do better. 2018 is the year we make bar stools padded again.

Avocado Toast.
I’m not afraid to admit it: I like avocado toast. Now that it went from a trend everyone loved to a trend everyone hated, I’m hoping 2018 is the year we all just admit it’s delicious and move on to hating something more deserving. People hated on avocado toast mainly for its price and hipster preciousness, but as any restaurant manager knows, avocados are stupid expensive. You buy them rock hard and must serve them in the 15-minute ripeness window before they turn to brown goo and add 5 points to your food costs. I’m willing to pay the $6 unless the dude at the counter is wearing a trilby, but that’s another issue.

What are your “predictions” for 2018 restaurant trends? Let us know in the comments!

Jack Hott

Jack Hott has more than 20 years experience in the hospitality industry. Along the way he’s flipped burgers, tossed pizzas and spilled a lot of wine on white table cloths.

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