What are current restaurant trends?
Keeping an eye on restaurant trends will help you stay competitive, appeal to your target market, and stay relevant in a constantly evolving industry. Trends can also inspire innovation, whether it’s through new menu items, technology or design. You can also predict future demand by tracking trends. Here are some examples:
Takeaway and delivery options
Many businesses had to adapt to survive in 2020, including offering takeaway and delivery services, implementing contactless payments, and redesigning premises to meet safety guidelines. For many, these changes have remained in place as a way of future-proofing against similar scenarios. Some restaurants partnered with third-party delivery services such as Deliveroo, Uber Eats and Just Eat to offer home delivery, while others implemented their own takeaway and pick up services. Some have even created dedicated takeaway menus or redesigned their premises to accommodate the increased demand for takeaway. Alternatively, who needs premises when you could run a home food delivery business?
This increased focus on takeaway and delivery services has enabled many businesses to continue operating and even reach new customers. It remains to be seen how the industry will evolve in the post-pandemic world, but takeaway and delivery are likely to remain a significant part of the restaurant landscape, so it’s worth factoring this into your business strategy.
Digital ordering and payments
The pandemic also accelerated the trend towards digital ordering and contactless payments, with many restaurants now offering online ordering and payment options for takeaway orders. Some restaurants have also introduced new packaging and hygiene measures to ensure the safety of their customers and staff.
Plant-based food chains have continued to perform well, and are likely to remain in demand in the future. Restaurants offering vegan and cultivated meat alternatives continue to rise in popularity, as many of the younger generation are determined to play their part in mitigating climate change.
Offering an option to deliver food that can be prepared by customers themselves will accommodate the rising trend of DIY meal kits, picnic-style baskets, etc
Outdoor dining is also likely to attract customers, as there is less concern around viral infections being shared in confined indoor spaces.
Locally-sourced produce is going to be of more significance than before due to disrupted mega supply chains and a general desire from the community to keep things local.
User and device-friendly websites
Functional, attractive, and mobile-friendly websites will become the biggest ambassadors for restaurants and other business types. Also, the ability and ease of being able to make reservations online is likely to be a key factor for your customers as the digitisation of life continues to expand.
There are many ways your restaurant can be sustainable and reduce its impact on the environment. For example, reducing food waste, sourcing local and organic ingredients, using energy-efficient equipment, reducing single-use plastics, implementing recycling and composting, offering plant-based options and reducing water consumption.
By implementing sustainable practices, your restaurant will not only reduce its environmental impact and improve its bottom line, but you will increase your restaurant’s appeal to customers who value sustainability.
Choosing a restaurant location
Choosing the right location is crucial for the success of your restaurant, and it requires careful consideration of a range of factors to ensure that you can attract the right customers and compete effectively in your market. For example:
A restaurant that is located in a busy area or close to major transportation hubs such as airports, train stations, or bus terminals will be more accessible to potential customers. If your restaurant is difficult to reach, it may deter customers from visiting, especially if there are other options nearby that are easier to get to. If you are a little more remote, is there suitable car parking?
The demographics of the surrounding area can also affect the success of a restaurant. For example, a restaurant that caters to families with young children may do well in a residential area with many families. In contrast, a restaurant that caters to businesspeople may do well in an area with many office buildings and corporate headquarters.
The location of your restaurant can also affect the level of competition you face. If there are already many similar restaurants in the area, it may be harder to attract customers. On the other hand, if there is a gap in the market for a particular type of cuisine, locating your restaurant in the right place could give you a competitive advantage.
Do the premises you have in mind have the correct planning ‘use class’, or would you need to apply for a change of use to operate as a restaurant? Similarly, does the nature of the space/building allow for the installation of the various equipment, ducting etc that your kitchen is likely to require?
Finally, the visibility of your restaurant can also affect its success. A restaurant that is located on a busy street or in a high-traffic area is more likely to catch the eye of potential customers. On the other hand, a restaurant that is hidden away in a back alley or on a quiet side street may be harder to find and attract fewer customers as a result.
Legal requirements to open a restaurant in UK
Before opening your restaurant, you need to acquire the necessary licences and permits to ensure you comply with the relevant regulations and laws. The requirements for these licences and permits vary depending on your location and the type of restaurant you plan to open. For example:
Food Business Registration
All food businesses in the UK must register with their local authority at least 28 days before starting operation (if you don’t do this, you might be fined or even imprisoned for up to two years). Food Business Registration is crucial for your business as it is meant for any activity related to preparing, storing, cooking, serving, handling, distributing, selling or supplying food. You can register for your new restaurant business here. After the registration, you need to prepare yourself for the inspection, which is conducted by the Food Standards Agency, to (hopefully!) get a five-star rating in health and hygiene standards.
Food Premises Approval
All restaurants apart from strictly vegan restaurants are required to obtain this approval. It is applicable to every restaurant that handles meat, fish, egg and dairy products. If your restaurant handles any of these items, it is mandatory for you to get yourself approved by the local council. Apply for this licence here.
You also require this licence in order to sell outside the county you are registered in. In order to apply, contact your council for an application form or directly apply online from their website. The displaying of the approval of the licence varies from council to council. Running unauthorised food premises is a criminal offence and prosecutable by law.
Licenses and certifications
Premises Licence. This is required if you intend to sell alcohol or provide entertainment, such as live music or dancing. You can apply for a premises licence from your local council.
Personal Licence. If you plan to sell alcohol, you or a designated member of staff will need to hold a personal licence. This licence can be obtained from your local council.
Health and Safety Certificate. You will need to have a health and safety certificate from a local council environmental health officer.
Waste Disposal Licence. You may need a waste disposal licence if you plan to dispose of commercial waste.
Events Licence. Events licences are required if your restaurant serves alcohol only on special occasions or events, and not regularly. Whenever you plan to hold an event in your restaurant that is likely to serve alcohol, you should apply for a Temporary Events Notice (TEN) at least 10 days before the event. The licence covers everything that a premise licence covers, just on a temporary basis, i.e. the permit to sell alcoholic beverages, live music and dancing, sporting events and the permit to serve hot drinks.
Music Licence. Music is important in a restaurant (no-one wants to hear the table next to them chewing, do they?!). To legally play music in your restaurant, you need to apply for a music licence from the PPL PRS, which is the UK’s music licensing company. The licence is essential to reimburse the owners and performers of the track for its use in the restaurant. While you can choose not to pay for a licence and opt for royalty-free music, you might struggle to find a free track list that matches your ambience.
Food hygiene certificate. All restaurant staff, from servers to kitchen staff, must be given proper training in food hygiene. Whilst there’s no legal requirement for food handlers to have a food hygiene certificate, there is an obligation in law to provide proper food safety training.
Fire Risk Assessments (FRA).
An employer, owner or occupier of commercial premises has a legal duty to complete a Fire Risk Assessment, identify fire hazards and ensure the business has effective fire protection. You must carry out and regularly review a fire risk assessment of the premises. This will identify what you need to do to prevent fire and keep people safe.The person carrying out the FRA must have suitable training to make the right judgements about risks and how to reduce them. For larger, more complex businesses a professional fire risk assessor is recommended to ensure regulatory compliance.
The main fire safety law that restaurants must comply with, is the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (FSO). Under the FSO, your premises must reach the required standard and all employees are provided with adequate fire safety training. If the premises have five or more people, a written record is required. By understanding the risks and taking precautions to reduce or eliminate it increases the likelihood your business would recover from a fire. FRA guidelines can be found A helpful guide can also be found here.
If you are planning to make significant changes to the building or use of the premises, you may need to obtain planning permission from your local council. You will also need the plans and any fitting out works to be checked off by a Building Control inspector in accordance with the Building Regulations.
Besides licences, you also need to insure your restaurant. These business insurances are mandatory to cover legal and compensation costs in cases of mishaps. These include:
Public Liability Insurance. This insurance covers the cost for instances when a customer goes sick or injures themselves on your restaurant premises.
Employer’s Liability Insurance. A similar insurance that you need is the Employer’s Liability Insurance, which covers the legal costs of employees getting injured in the workplace.
Buildings Insurance. Also known as Business Property Insurance, it covers the cost of damage to the restaurant building and everything inside it. It is usually taken care of by the landlord, but it wouldn’t hurt to check.
Again, seek advice from a professional advisor when organising your insurance.
Stocking your restaurant
This is an important task, which requires careful planning and organisation to ensure that you have the necessary supplies and ingredients to prepare and serve your menu items.
Develop a menu
Before you start purchasing supplies, it’s important to develop a menu that reflects your restaurant’s concept and brand. This will help you determine the ingredients and supplies you need to have on hand. When you put together your menu, you should keep in mind your ingredient costs. If you can, try to avoid buying too many specialty ingredients that are only used in one dish and try to base much of your menu around common, affordable and available ingredients.
Create a supplier list
Research and create a list of reliable suppliers for your restaurant. This may include wholesalers, distributors, and local farmers or producers. It’s really important to choose your food suppliers carefully. You’re not just running the risk of late deliveries – unhygienic packing and transportation of perishable food products could pose a real health risk to you and your customers. Questions to ask include:
- Are they registered with the local authority?
- Do they have any certification or quality assurance?
- Are they recommended by other local restaurants?
- Do they store, transport and pack their products in a hygienic way?
It’s also a good idea to carry out your own spot checks on temperature and quality to make sure produce is suitable.
You are legally required to keep a record of all food products you’ve bought, where you bought them from, how much you bought, and the date of purchase. Keep this information safe in case it ever needs to be presented to an inspector or enforcement officer.
Read more: Finding the right suppliers
Manage your ingredients (quantities, storage, purchases)
Estimate the quantities of supplies and ingredients you will need based on your menu, the number of customers you expect to serve, and the frequency of deliveries.
Set up storage areas in your restaurant to store supplies and ingredients. This may include a dry storage area for non-perishable items, a refrigerated storage area for perishable items, and a freezer for frozen items.
Purchase supplies and ingredients. Purchase supplies and ingredients from your selected suppliers. Be sure to compare prices, quality, and delivery options to get the best value for your money.
Track inventory. Keep track of your inventory levels to ensure that you always have enough supplies and ingredients on hand. Consider using inventory management software to help you track and manage your inventory.
Rotate stock. Implement a first-in, first-out (FIFO) system to ensure that older items are used first and to avoid waste.
By following these steps, you can effectively stock your restaurant and ensure that you have the necessary supplies and ingredients to serve your customers.
Read more: How do I do a stock take?
Let’s be honest, restaurants need a lot of equipment. For example, you’ll need to think about cooking, cleaning and hygiene, uniform, crockery, glassware, cutlery, tables and chairs, safety signs, pest control, bins, fridge, freezer, etc. Don’t forget that the food you’re planning to serve can affect the type of equipment you need.
You can often rent kitchen equipment instead of purchasing it outright. Many commercial kitchen equipment suppliers offer rental options for items such as ovens, refrigerators, and fryers. This can be a cost-effective solution for restaurants that are just starting out or for those that need additional equipment for a short period of time. It’s important to note that rental agreements may vary depending on the supplier, so it’s always best to research and compare options before making a decision.
Design your restaurant
Designing your restaurant is not just about aesthetics; it’s also about creating a functional space that meets the needs of your customers and staff. Here are some considerations when coming up with restaurant design concept ideas:
Define your concept and brand.
Before designing your restaurant space, it’s important to have a clear understanding of your restaurant’s concept and brand. This will help guide your design decisions, from the overall layout to the decor and furnishings. Ensure this style is mirrored in your marketing.
Consider the flow of the space.
The layout should be designed to ensure smooth and efficient flow for customers and staff. Consider factors such as the location of the kitchen, bathrooms, and bar, as well as the seating arrangement and traffic flow.
Lighting plays a key role in creating the atmosphere of your restaurant. Use a combination of ambient, task, and accent lighting to create a warm and welcoming space. Dimmer switches can also be used to adjust the lighting level for different times of the day.
Materials and finishes
These can have a significant impact on the overall look and feel of your restaurant. Choose high-quality, durable materials that are easy to clean and maintain. Consider using a mix of textures and materials, such as wood, metal, and glass, to create visual interest.
The comfort and layout of the seating is crucial for customer satisfaction. Choose seating options that match the style and concept of the restaurant, and ensure that there is enough space between tables for customers and staff to move around comfortably.
Decor and branding.
This should be consistent with your concept and brand. Consider using artwork, graphics, and signage to create a cohesive and memorable visual identity.
Ensure that your restaurant space is accessible to customers with disabilities, including wheelchair users. This includes features such as wheelchair-accessible entrances, bathrooms, and seating options.
Health and safety
Keep in mind your employer responsibilities for health and safety when planning your design – from your kitchen to your seating areas. For example when it comes to fire safety, all escape routes must be unobstructed, planned out and clearly marked. Here’s a a specific catering health and safety resource from GOV.UK. Always seek professional advice when designing your restaurant to ensure health and safety and compliance.