The hospitality landscape is constantly evolving.
Working with Australia’s top chefs and restauranteurs has given us unique insights into the hospitality landscape across the country. From dietary fads to experience, we investigate the top six predictions for 2016 dining.
Trend 1. Value for money
Value for money is a priority for any successful dining experience, but with diners looking for the very best in produce as well as value, it can be tricky to get the balance right. Achieving value for money doesn’t always mean the highest quality, or selling expensive items cheaply to bring in customers – that’s disastrous in the long run. Just like a stylish dresser might combine designer labels with department store fashions, the restaurant must know where to invest and where to be economical. Planning and procurement processes need to be tight to deliver the best value for money.
Trend 2. Casual dining
The shift towards more relaxed, informal eating will continue unabated next year. No need for linen tablecloths, fine stemware or buttoned up waiters. But customers do expect to see an effort, and personality. Customers still demand a memorable dining experience but they prefer the energy and expense to be invested into the food, wine and ambience instead of the fancy trimmings. How to create that unique experience that diners expect? Think unusual signage to give diners a laugh, magazine-worthy design and fittings, and quirky menu items (like freakshakes) that inspire customers to post on Instagram.
Trend 3. Regional Asian
Western culture has only experienced the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Asian cuisine. There are hundreds of different cultures across Asia, all with their own culinary secrets. The emphasis in 2016 will be on regional and local produce. Diners are increasingly interested in a dish’s backstory, so calling your meal ‘Malaysian’ or ‘Korean’ is not enough. Pinpointing exactly which city a meal comes from or the tradition behind it from will add to its appeal. Knowing which Korean province inspired their kimchi or that their chicken dish comes from Malaysia’s Hainan Island in Malaysia is what diners will demand in 2016.
Trend 4. Everything but the food
A successful dining encounter is about so much more than the food, and ambience will be everything in 2016. The most successful establishments will create unique experiences with seating, lighting, service and atmosphere full of personality and style. Diners expect to be wowed with amazing décor, impressed with well-presented menus and given attentive, responsive service. How can this be created? Take bookings where others won’t, give more on social media, invest in a refurb for better atmosphere, use theatrics or retrain your front of house staff to get them firing—whatever it takes.
Trend 5. Localisation
Consumers have moved beyond local beers to local everything: salts, honey, artisan breads, meat, fruit, vegetables—local is best. When it comes to produce, grown on-site is even better. Diners are mindful of their environmental footprint and value unique and bespoke ingredients that offer a new culinary experience. Savvy restaurateurs will be making sure everything local is highlighted strongly on menus.
Trend 6. Healthy
With so many food based lifestyles (not diets) like paleo, vegan, clean eating, vegaquarian, low carb and countless others, restaurants with options that cater to these diners will reap the rewards. Diners will expect to be able to customise a meal to meet their needs, so flexibility is key. Studies show that diners are willing to pay more for healthier foods, so catering to these expectations can be very beneficial.