Top Restaurant Trends to Watch in 2012

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Here are some interesting statistics regarding restaurants –
  • Sixty-two percent of consumers have been cutting back on visits to casual-dining restaurants.

  • Forty seven percent of consumers want healthy restaurant options while just twenty-three percent select healthy food when dining away from home.

  • Fifty-two percent of consumers suggest that different and unique flavors influence their restaurant visits.
Technomic is a consulting and research firm that focuses on the food industry by providing proprietary studies and research based guidance. Their research has found many interesting consumer trends. Here are some of the top restaurant trends they want us to watch in 2012.  

Familiar foods with a twist – It is unlikely that many will take risks and spend their precious food dollars on untried flavors and gourmet combinations. In the casual dining setting, expect to see new, creative twists on childhood favorites like grilled cheese or updated versions of comfort foods such as mashed potatoes and meat loaf.  In the fine dining arena, you will likely see more and more gourmet versions of traditional favorites. Not only will American favorites get the gourmet treatment but  also expect to see comfort foods of other cultures as well.

Back to basics - While food costs are rising, labor costs are holding steady. At the same time, diners are interested in entrée options that focus on fresh ingredients and simple preparations. This combination allows restaurants to focus their food dollars on cheaper cuts of meat, beans, grains, and produce. Well-trained staff and chefs can then transform these basic staples into home-style favorites that will leave diners coming back for more.

Local sourcing on the rise – The focus on fresh ingredients and the impact of rising food costs makes seeking out local sourcing of ingredients almost a no-brainer. While growers and food distributors work to establish safe, efficient, and transparent supply chain, buyers may be better off seeking out local options themselves to meet their individual needs. Expect to see increased focus on locally grown food.

Social media marketing – More and more people seek out recommendations or heed warnings from friends and colleagues via social media postings. Expect to see more casual dining and fast food restaurants taking advantage of social media marketing opportunities such as checking in through Foursquare or easy reservations through services like Open Table. Social media popularity and trends can also help you find new local restaurants that you may not have been aware of but that can quickly become a 2012 favorite.

You can review the rest of the projected restaurant trends here as well as these top 10 trends  and the expected transition toward intense globally inspired combinations.

Do you use social media to give or receive restaurant information to your friends? What new trends would you like to see in 2012?

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As consumers are becoming more and more health conscious, I think it is very important for restaurants to pick up on this consumer trend. I have seen a noticeable amount of dining services allow its customers to customize their own meals to accommodate their specific health needs. I think this is an important trend that all restaurants should pick up on in order to enhance the consumer's overall dining experience. Report
More healthy options would be great. Report
I'd love to see more healthy options! I won't order something with 900+ calories--even if I would take half home. There are a few casual dining places I just don't go to anymore since they do NOT have healthy options that I can pick from. Report
More gluten free options! Report
I feel like eating out is a waste of my time, unless it's In-N-Out, because I must be about the only person that absolutely hates cilantro, capers, wine, and my biggest complaint pepper(black), peppers (hot, green, red, yellow, orange) in my food.

I don't think you can escape pepper in food. I stopped eating Lean Cuisine or any of the healthy
frozen meals too. I swear red bell peppers are an absolute must in frozen meals, if it's not there then burgundy is.

Thanks for letting me vent!
I would love to see more gluten-free and vegetarian options. And restaurant staff skilled in understanding food intolerances. Report
I prefer word of mouth. I would like to see more healthy options/meals at restaurants than a "trend." Report
These are all good trends... Report
I work at a popular chain restaurant and can definitely say comparing the volume of people from last year to this year during the holidays, there is definitely a bigger cutback on people going out to dine. I would love to see more organic, raw cafes in town (there are only about four total in my city that are completely organic, raw, and vegan). I believe the organic and raw healthstyle is laregely untapped, and it could be a niche for anyone to get inspired and really go all the way with transforming how people eat on the go! Report
Thanks for the information. Report
Although I'm not a strict vegan, I do eat a mainly vegan diet these days, and it would be amazing to see more vegetarian and vegan meals at restaurants. Without much work on the restaurants' ends, they could make the vegetarian entrees all adaptable to being vegan. Report
I would love to see more organic. I want to know my food is not filled with hormones and antibotics growth hormones or whatever these mad scientist can come up with. I'm tired of frankinfood. I feel 100 percent better when I eat organic food and vegetables and grass fed meat. We have one place to eat about 45 minutes from us that is organic. Report
Oh, and my biggest gripe is veggies. Why can't we just have steamed or grilled veggies, and I don't mean broccoli. Everywhere you go, the only veggie available that isn't covered, is mushy broccoli, and even then they want to put cheese all over it. What's wrong with a simple steamed medley? I like veggies, and I want good ones! Report
I would agree with simplicity, back to basics, and familiar foods with a twist. I'm not interested in a gourmet look with alot of stuff, fancy sauces, etc. We rarely eat out anymore just because we don't get what we like, or everything is covered in something. I want my salmon to be just grilled salmon, not oozing with some sweet concoction all over it. And my steak doesn't need some rich parmesan sauce all over it. Grilled food is som simple and flavorful without all that stuff. If I go with seafood, I just make it fried because I don't like the way they hype up grilled or seared food. It's usually a let down these days to eat out, and too much money to waste. Report