8 Top Trends that Shaped the Restaurant Industry in 2023

December 22, 2023

As we step into the new year of 2024, it's worth taking a few moments to look back at the past year in the dining industry and examine the restaurant trends that had a significant impact on it. The food industry is always evolving, and staying ahead of the curve can be the difference between a successful establishment.

The restaurant industry put innovation and adaption first in 2023. The most popular restaurant trends showcased that business owners are finding ways to elevate the on-site and off-site experience for guests, whether running a fast-casual restaurant, a full-service establishment or exploring a completely new concept entirely.

  1. Contactless Service and Kitchen Automation: The food industry has witnessed a remarkable adoption of technology in restaurants. With the advent of contactless service delivery and the integration of automation in kitchen operations, the industry has witnessed a significant transformation. This trend has been largely driven by restaurateurs who have embraced digitization as a key strategy for enhancing customer experience and improving operational efficiency. The shift towards technology-enabled dining experiences is expected to continue in the foreseeable future, marking a new era in the food service industry.
  2. Boozy Trends with Sotol and Galliano Liqueur: A noteworthy trend in beverages was the rise of sotol, a Mexican spirit, and a retro interest in Galliano liqueur. Casual restaurants were seen experimenting with these boozy offerings.
  3. Diverse Culinary Experiences: 2023 saw a focus on diverse culinary experiences. Restaurants explored global flavors, incorporating unique ingredients and techniques to provide customers with various dining options.
  4. Retro Revival in Restaurant Trends: A retro revival was observed, with a particular interest in the Galliano liqueur mentioned earlier. This reflects a broader trend of revisiting and reinventing classic culinary elements for a modern audience.
  5. Innovative Menu Offerings: Michelin highlighted innovative menu offerings as a critical trend for 2023. This included creative and unique dishes that pushed the boundaries of traditional culinary norms.
  6. Tipping Confusion: In the past year there seemed to be confusion about how much to tip after a meal or coffee order. Tipping has been a topic of debate for a long time, and during the pandemic, tipping percentages increased as service workers risked their health to keep the hospitality industry running. Some restaurants added automatic service fees, while others prompted diners to tip on everything, leading to tipping fatigue and complaints.
  7. Sustainability-Driven Practices: Eateries and food suppliers increasingly adopted environmentally-conscious methods such as utilizing nearby ingredients, minimizing food waste, and choosing compostable packaging.
  8. TikTok Influencers Turned Top Critics: A fresh group of restaurant critics emerged sharing brief, witty reviews that significantly impacted a restaurant's patronage in seconds. TikTok foodies may be dismissed as unqualified to critique restaurants, but they have a significant influence on their followers. Restaurants responded to this trend in various ways: some capitalized on Instagram-friendly branding, while others banned them entirely.

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