15 Food Service Trends for 2015

 Trend 13: Lighting a more enjoyable dining experience

LED-Lightbulb-iStock 000017620584XLargeLED-Lightbulb-iStock 000017620584XLargeLighting represents a key challenge for all foodservice operations. It needs to reflect the daypart, the space, the segment and the atmosphere. Lighting for breakfast is far brighter than that for dinner, thus it should be adjustable to accommodate different dayparts. Lighting at dinner needs to be bright enough for reading the menu but also soft enough to lend atmosphere to the dining experience. New LED lighting can address the lighting challenge, and the trend is to design lighting for people, not for the design of the restaurant. In other words, lighting can be beautiful, but it must be functional. LED lighting offers color options as well as traditional white and has the advantage of low power consumption.

Operational Impact: Lighting design and execution should keep in mind functionality. Choices will affect diners' experiences, so operators should select lighting with the goal of creating a comfortable ambience that encourages them to stay longer and enjoy the food and drink.

Trend 14: Digital media screens for an ever-changing wall treatment

One of the newest design trends is installing screens that display artwork, movies or other images that reflect the theme of the restaurant. These screens go well beyond the wide-screen TVs for sporting events that became popular in the '90s. These are photo walls, often encompassing an entire wall area, and these digital displays can be changed with the press of a button.

Operational Impact: Some form of projectable surface is necessary for this trendy addition; this could be actual screens, or walls with special paint that allows for displaying images smoothly. There is also an investment in digital equipment needed, usually short-throw projectors.

Trend 15: DIY ordering and paying online is a long-term trend

Wow-Bao3Wow-Bao3Let's see, do I want fries with that? Self-ordering kiosks and tablets at tables are a steadily growing trend. Speed of service and accuracy are two of the benefits. The convenience of ordering and paying electronically particularly appeals to Millennials, who spend a good deal of time on one device or another. When patrons place their own orders and pay for them electronically in a limited-service restaurant, they avoid waiting in line and can be in and out of a restaurant in a few minutes. Full-service restaurants have tabletop ordering screens. Many systems show previous orders so the diner can push the button and repeat the experience or, conversely, order something completely different.

Operational Impact: Kiosks are in place at different points, depending on space or design of the QSR or fast-casual unit. They can be near the entrance or near the registers. The menus display a range of choices available, including alternative options, such as gluten-free or vegan. Chains using the self-ordering kiosks report that the ordering applications bring in higher check averages than those taken by cashiers.

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