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We’re living in 2019. But this November, it feels like the restaurant industry is living 2030. Bar and restaurant news this month has been filled with stories of innovation: Ways that food tech is transforming the industry. How restaurants are turning to creative solutions to support their employees. And the most shocking: Delivering pizza in round boxes (gasp!).

The National Restaurant Association gives us a glimpse of what bar and restaurant news will look like in 10 years. We explore what travelers really want in their dining options, as well as an easy way to get in on the health food trend at your restaurant.

But the future doesn’t look bright for everyone. Grubhub faced a pretty hard week in bar and restaurant news that has people questioning the sustainability of the delivery industry.

Ready to see what the future holds according to this month’s bar and restaurant news? Let’s explore the headlines…

1. The Scoop: Restaurants are finding creative ways to support their employees.

Putting employees first has been a major focus for owners in bar and restaurant news. It’s not only been an effort to reduce turnover, but to help build loyalty and enhance the quality of life for workers. And with bar and restaurant news bringing some of the challenges with mental health and addiction to light, businesses are finding new ways to make a positive impact for their employees.

Here are some ways that we’ve seen restaurants give extra support to their teams in bar and restaurant news:

  • Chipotle boosts its benefits. In early November, Chipotle announced in bar and restaurant news that it is starting to provide employees and their families with access to mental healthcare and financial wellness options through its Employee Assistance Program. The new options will streamline access to providers and care with a seamless digital experience.
  • A pizza chain goes the extra mile. &pizza, a chain based in Washington, D.C., announced a partnership with LYFT to offer discounted, flat-rate rides to employees working late on the weekends to ensure safe and reliable transportation.
  • A local restaurant group makes living easier. Table 301 Restaurant Group, located in Greenville, SC, made waves in Southern bar and restaurant news. They saw an issue with a rapidly expanding downtown area and dwindling talent pool of employees who could afford to live where they work. In an effort to combat their team’s issue with local housing, the Group started a program to provide rent assistance for select employees facing issues with displacement.

The Takeaway: As evidenced by this bar and restaurant news, supporting your employees doesn’t always mean turning to a bigger paycheck. Take a close look at some of the challenges they may be facing in their regular lives, and brainstorm ways you can help.

2. The Scoop: A Glimpse of Bar and Restaurant News in 2030

This month, the National Restaurant Association released its 10-year outlook report for the projected state of the industry in bar and restaurant news. And according to the report, things are looking pretty good…and pretty different. Here were some of the key changes we may be seeing in bar and restaurant news by the year 2030:

  • The term “restaurant” will be…more fluid. Consumer trends show off-premise demand is on the rise. This is a good indication that more quasi-restaurant options like “delivery services, virtual restaurants, subscription services, and grab-and-go retail locations” will be popping up as well.
  • Transparency is key. Transparency when it comes to nutrition and sustainable food practices will play a big role for owners who want to stay on the right side of bar and restaurant news.
  • The workforce will become a little more seasoned. It’s predicted that the number of adults over 65 in the restaurant labor force will reach a record high of 16.1 million, while the number of teenagers in the industry may reach a record low of 5.1 million.

The Takeaway: Things are changing in the restaurant industry. And it pays to keep up. Stay on top of the latest bar and restaurant news and find ways that your business can adjust (and grow) with the trends.

3. The Scoop: Food Tech is on the rise.

Tech is taking over the food industry in bar and restaurant news. And according to techcrunch.com, it’s a trend that’s here to stay.

As consumers focus on healthier dining options and more sustainable practices, updates are being made in bar and restaurant news to support sustainable delivery packaging and farming practices.

Innovations in producing meat alternatives that taste like the real thing make headway as diners opt for vegetarian options (but aren’t ready to totally give up their bacon).

And even AI is being leveraged to do more in the industry, from making smoothies to delivering food.

Sure, we may still have a way to go before our meals are completely self-cooking. But according to this bar and restaurant news, the future is now.

The Takeaway: These tech advances could mean big things in bar and restaurant news. As consumer demands move towards a greener and more tech-focused dining experiences, restaurants that keep up will be in high demand.  

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4. The Scoop: Innovation in our favorite form (Hint: It’s pizza!)

Speaking of leading in tech innovation, Pizza Hut is at it again. The pizza giant announced in bar and restaurant news that it is testing not one, but TWO revolutionary products that could change the game for one of America’s favorite dining options.

The first is pretty on par with recent culinary trends we’ve been seeing in bar and restaurant news. As more diners aim for plant-based diets, many chains are starting to offer meat alternatives to appease “flexitarians.” This led Pizza Hut to its latest, game-changing topping: “Incogmeato” a vegan Italian sausage made by MorningStar Farms.

But what’s more surprising about this “slice” of bar and restaurant news is Pizza Hut’s second innovation. In its quest to innovate change, Pizza Hut has come full circle – literally. The company is testing a new delivery box design in a revolutionary round shape.

According to Pizza Hut, this new design is a sustainable way to cut back on packaging since it requires less material. And the shape lends itself to providing a better product by keeping pizza warmer and crispier longer.

The Takeaway: If you don’t have the big marketing dollars like Pizza Hut, you can still make a significant impact. Explore adding more “flexitarian” options to your menu, and look for realistic ways to reduce waste in your own restaurant.

5. The Scoop: A simple way to cash in on the growing health food trend.

In bar and restaurant news that shocks absolutely no one, diners want healthier menu options. It’s a menu trend that’s been growing for years now. But what may be surprising is the reason why. Restaurant Business Online shared that in a 2018 report, 41% of diners state that they select healthier dining options because they actually like the taste of the food. So, with demand for delicious-tasting, healthy dishes on the rise, how can you capitalize on the trend without overhauling your menu?

According to this bar and restaurant news, it’s all about the bowls.

Letting customers build their own bowls hits on two major themes in bar and restaurant news: customization and health. And it couldn’t be simpler to implement…

Just provide a list of (high-quality) ingredients for base proteins, fruit and veggie add-ons, cheeses, crunchy toppings, and dressings…and you’re in business.

The Takeaway: Healthy build-your-own bowl options could be a low-risk gateway to creating a healthier menu. Test it out at your restaurant and watch the customer response.

6. The Scoop: What travelers want in their hotel dining experience.

SevenRooms recently released a study called Checking in for F&B, which examines consumer preferences for their hotel dining experience. The report provided insight to bar and restaurant news on what could attract guests to dine at their hotel rather than venturing out into the city.

And although this bit of bar and restaurant news was specific to hospitality, there were still some key takeaways that restaurant owners could benefit from:

  • For a majority of travelers, it’s all about the freebies. And who wouldn’t turn down a complimentary breakfast? For non-hotel venues, lean in with promotions featuring a free appetizer or dessert for first-time guests!
  • Dietary preferences should be considered. One in five Americans want their hotel to ask about dietary restrictions. So, do the same for your guests. Offer gluten-free or vegan options, and list clear ingredients for each dish on your menu.
  • Personalization is key. Another theme in bar and restaurant news is that consumers expect personalized experiences based on their previous interactions with a business. Hotels (and restaurants) are no different. Turn to your CRM to record notes about your guests, like their favorite drink or table. Use this data to customize their next visit.

The Takeaway: Think like a hospitality business. After all…as a restaurant or bar, you’re in the business of serving people who are away from home!

7. The Scoop: It’s been a grim month for Grubhub.

Delivery services have been dominating bar and restaurant news for a few years now. And with Grubhub being one of the first in the U.S., it seemed to be leading the way for the delivery industry.

However, it’s been a particularly rough month for the business giant – which is causing some people to take a second look at the delivery industry as a whole.

The third-quarter earnings that Grubhub released made headlines in bar and restaurant news…for all the wrong reasons. While the company was up 30% from the previous year in revenue, the earnings were way below the projected $330.5 million for the quarter – coming in at $322 million. The resulting dip was enough to cause Grubhub’s stock to decline by over 40%.

And the hits kept coming. In the same week, over 30 members of the New York City Council called out Grubhub about complaints from owners stating they were charged for phone calls that didn’t result in sales.

The Council submitted a letter to the Grubhub CEO, calling for a third party to evaluate the charges. The investigation could lead to a refund for any New York restaurant owner who may have been erroneously charged. Stay tuned, as this could be a major story in upcoming bar and restaurant news.

The Takeaway: Delivery options probably aren’t going anywhere because it’s in such high demand. But fluctuating customer loyalty could make the market more volatile.

Innovation keeps things exciting, and it looks like nothing is slowing down in bar and restaurant news…