Business Insights

A View To 2022 Restaurant Trends

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As operators review key learnings of the past year, they’re also considering what has traction for the remainder of this year and what’s likely to carry over in 2022. Here’s what foodservice experts predict.


“One of the biggest creative innovations is going to come from taking traditional items and reimagining the product, techniques, ingredients, presentation and menu placement,” says Bo Bryant, Shamrock Foods Restaurant Consultant. “This strategy is poised to take center stage into 2022. We’ll see more operators doing less, better — and finding continued efficiencies through cross- utilization and repurposing strategies.”

What kind of innovation do consumers want?*


“Guests are more forgiving than ever and, frankly, they’re sick and tired of eating from a box,” says Jeff Pivin, Shamrock Foods Business Review Specialist, AZ. “Create dishes that entice all the senses and create a dynamic experience that customers crave, post-takeout.”

Menu Simplification

While over half of operators have narrowed or limited menus coming out of 2020, the big question is where to go — or grow — from there.

“Edited menus continue to make sense to boost margins and efficiency,” says Jim Hargrove, Shamrock Foods Restaurant Consultant. “But what’s lost in variety and choice has to be made up for in ‘Wow!’ factor.”

“Guests are looking to be led on a journey,” Pivin says. “They’re not looking for a list of all of the things you can do. Evolve dishes and create a point of differentiation.”

Off-Premise DIning

“Dining habits are permanently changed,” Hargrove says, noting that ordering apps, online payment, curbside pickup, delivery and grab-and-go are accelerating ahead by about a decade.

of consumers say they get food delivery at least weekly**
of operators Are actively trying to grow off- premise sales**

Outdoor Seating

“I expect outdoor dining to continue to be a draw into 2022 and even beyond,” says Ryan Elmore, Shamrock Foods Business Review Specialist, NM.

“This will be a guest want going forward,” Hargrove adds.

Safety Protocols expand and evolve

Cleanliness still trumps all considerations when picking a restaurant — and a majority of operators have updated their food-safety procedures.

“Dining habits are permanently changed.”Jim Hargrove, Shamrock Foods Restaurant Consultant

Clean-label options

“Gen Z leans towards a healthy version of comfort food,” says Mary McVoy, Shamrock Foods Business Review Specialist, CA. “Foods that boost energy/moods and offer health benefits will continue to trend and thrive over the next several years. Use of grains and protein alternatives will continue through 2022.”

On-site experience design

“New build-outs, depending on the brand, service style and product, will be called for,” Hargrove says. “Operators will have to consider a second cook line for takeout; an area for grab-and-go customers to pick up their order seamlessly and touch-free; and parking spots for curbside and delivery.”

Frictionless, digital-tech solutions

of consumers Use (or want to use) mobile apps for food purchases***
of operators Are exploring automation to increase sales & traffic***
of consumers Use contactless cards, up 22% from 2019***

Operators and consumers alike have adopted technology for many types of foodservice transactions. Contactless payment, for example, is a new expectation.

Operators are reaching customers and offering them convenience more effectively, thanks to their increased comfort with touchless payment options, QR codes, table tablets, and maintaining a presence and managing their loyalty programs online.

Increased technology use will continue to grow in foodservice, Hargrove predicts. “Imbalanced labor demand is going to force more operators toward AI, robotics and automation.”

*Source: 2020 Menu Trends, Datassential

**Source: Datassential, 2021

***Source: Datassential, 2021

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