Perusing “What’s Hot” for 2014

I always enjoy going over the National Restaurant Association’s “What’s Hot” list for each new year. I’m particularly interested in the menu trends. These trends rarely change significantly year to year but they disclose overarching demand themes amongst consumers.

The top 10 menu trends focused around 4 core concepts:

Local Sourcing: 3 of the top 10 trends are related to the local sourcing of ingredients

Healthy Kid’s Menu Options: 3 of the top 10 trends outline an increased focus on healthful children’s menu options

Sustainability: 2 of the top 10 trends focus on sustainable practices

Gluten Free: 2 of the top 10 trends focus gluten free menu options

Restaurants that adapt and cater to the current trends resonating with consumers have an advantage other those that do not. Quality menu options are important; quality menu options that resonate with consumers are invaluable.

The same principles apply to service quality. Quality service at its core is the product of good training, compre­hensive product knowledge and the essential supplies needed for an enjoyable dining experience.

These tools all work together to ensure that diners feel welcome and are informed as to unique product offerings. Supplies such server pads are a cost effective way to ensure accurate orders are processed ef­ficiently every time.

Arguably the most important trend of “local sourcing” may strike some people as a menu theme that only applies to food. Certainly, restaurants want to be sure that food is locally sourced and sustainable as that resonates with consumers most directly.

But there is also an opportunity to recognize the importance of American-made restaurant disposables and equipment manufactured in a sustainable way in the USA by companies like NCCO.

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