What Trends are Cooling Off, Warming Up, and Hot for 2016 Restaurant/Food Industry Trends.

We are a generation of movers, shakers, and no in-betweeners.  What happens when “foodies” become “epicures” and when the food service industry is constantly turned upside down because people are always looking for the next best thing? We research and find out how to please the next generation of foodies, I mean, um, epicures..

What’s cooling off?

We are becoming a generation of food culture vs. pop culture.  If anyone knows me in real life you know that I absolutely CAN NOT stand the word “Foodie”.  I don’t care how cool and edgy you think you are because you’re not being cute.  You are interested in the culinary aspect of your meal. You are not better than me because you posted the latest meal from the hottest restaurant on your Instagram.  It does just so happen though that these self-proclaimed “foodies” are being renamed as epicures.  It goes to say that people are now interested in where the ingredients on their plate came from and they want to know exactly how it has been prepared and what techniques the chef used.  It’s more about the meal now instead of the experience. Food culture vs. pop culture like I said.

One of the biggest trends we saw in 2015 that is starting to die off now is restaurants named with the dreaded ampersand.  Grape & Vine, Pearl & Ash, Runner & Stone are just some of the names that we saw spike in 2015 but it is now a typography trend that is dying out.

A huge trend for restaurants, especially high end bars in large metropolis markets, were bar bites.  The trend for bar bites that is now dying off is over charging for these.  It may have seemed like a good deal at the time “4 organic, hand breaded, deep fried, par boiled chicken wings with housemade hoisin sriarcha sauce with homemade bleu cheese dipping sauce for only $14.99?! What a steal.” It’s time to stop restaurants.  Stop over charging for your fancy-ass bar bites.  We’ve had enough.  Make great “snacks” charge snack prices for them and I will more than likely order numerous plates of them.

If we are staying on the same track with trends in food we are seeing more restaurants step away from “mash up” cuisine.  I don’t know how many of you are sick of fusion cuisine but I was tired of that in 2012.  It seems that chefs are finally realizing the same thing.

We are also getting rid of heavy, meat-centric, dishes.  I will agree that when I’m in the mood for a big steak and potatoes I will go find just that but having a full menu of meat is no longer the norm.

One of the last trends that we saw hop on board this year are already getting the boot and that is impersonal restaurant technology.  The idea of a fully automated restaurant is scaring industry employees.  Sure, machines may be more accurate but what’s better than getting waited on by somebody.  The hospitality industry is the one of the largest employment segments in the world.  If we get replaced with machines what are we going to do next?

What’s warming up?

One of the biggest trends for 2015 and is going to continue to thrive during 2016 is third-party delivery apps. Uber-Eats, Eat 24, and Postmates just to name a few grew immensely at the end of 2015.  I live in a city that’s too small to have a service like this but if you live in large metro areas be sure to check it out.  It turns out that you can get Chipotle delivered to your door.

In response to getting ready of heavy meat centered dishes, South Pacific cuisine is warming up in kitchens across the country.  Fresh seafood, tropical fruits, and root vegetables will start to sprinkle themselves among menus nationwide.  Pork, Fish, coconut, bananas and papayas are just some of the ingredients we will start to see more often!

One great thing millennials have brought to menus all over the place is spicy food. If you are tired of different types of burgers prepare to see spicy chicken sandwiches start to make their breakthrough.  Chicken is cheaper and has a wider palate of flavors that it can take so I think chicken sandwiches are going to knock burgers out of the park.

If you live in California you know you have been dealing with drought conditions and in one California restaurant a chef used an air compressor to blow food off of dishes instead of water.  If 600 restaurants implemented this technique in 2016 they would save over 10 billion gallons of water.  How incredible.


Bartenders have started creating exotic non-alcoholic cocktails AKA “mocktails” for those of you that still want to have a “drink” but maybe you are the DD for that night or simply don’t drink.  DWI enforcement has become huge so the industry wants to make sure you can still have a good time (and a fun drink) even for the DD.

EMV Technology or chip cards became a mandatory technology October 1st, 2015.  It may not seem important but it is one of the most important technologies of 2015 because if you get a fraudulent chip card transaction in your establishment you are now responsible for paying that back and not the bank if you don’t have the correct EMV technology.

We are now seeing a trend in restaurants getting rid of tipping all together, paying their serving staff $14+ dollars an hour with benefits and charging a mandatory service charge to all of the diners of their establishment.  I am not sure how hot this trend will stay because as a server I feel that I wouldn’t try to go that extra mile to earn my money like I do now!

Dumplings.  All cultures have a sweet spot for stuffed packages and it’s showing across menus nationwide.  If you can stuff it inside something then it’s a dumpling. Appetizers, desserts, and entrees have seen this popular dish show up in their category in millions of flavors.

One of the last trends and going back to the “sustainable” food is re-thinking your pantry.  Restaurants have started using ingredients that are only within a 100 mile radius of them and it’s got people thinking past the traditional pantry staples and people are getting rid of the usual flour, sugar, and vanilla and trading it for ingredients local to them such as dandelion root, beet juice, coconut that is freshly shredded, handmade sweetened condensed milk and other pantry staples to increase the livelihood of their dessert and fresh baked menus.

What are some of your current favorite restaurant trends?  What do you wish to see for 2016?

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