Seven 21st Century Restaurant Trends


Food Trend

Dining has changed a lot in the 21st Century.  From mobile Apps to changing cuisines to participating in the dining experience, the 21st Century is off to an exciting start for the hospitality industry. Here are seven current restaurant trends.

Online Reservations

One of the many benefits of transacting business online is that customers can do it when it fits into their busy schedules.  This applies to making restaurant reservations as well.  Restaurants are only open for business for certain hours.  It may not be inconvenient for a diner to remember to call during those specific times. Leaving a voicemail for a restaurant reservation can be unpredictable.   An online reservation can be made at any time of the day or night.  Many online reservation systems also automatically generate reservation reminders.

Text notification

Text notification when a table is ready is another trend that is on the rise. Customers don’t have to wait in a restaurant lobby or crowded bar to hear their table is ready. Text notification eliminates having to carry around a clunky pager and gives the restaurant an added cool factor for using the latest technology.  Another variation on the same technology is for waitlists for hot restaurants. A patron who is waitlisted for a desired reservation date several weeks out can be notified via text that they have secured a table rather than having to follow-up with a call to the restaurant in hopes of securing a table.

Pay by phone

The ability to pay a restaurant bill by phone is beneficial for patrons and restaurant staff. Many diners want to leave when they are done with their meals. This is particularly true for families dining with children. Waiting around for a check can be irritating.  Even if the meal was delightful, sitting at a table for 15 extra minutes before the check arrives can leave a bad impression about a restaurant.  Paying by phone can also improve the efficiency of a restaurant. The staff can focus on customer service rather than collecting money.  When a bill needs to be split, it may expend additional staff time waiting around for diners to decide who pays for what. It can also lead to an awkward negotiation for customers discussing bill division. The most recent pay by phone apps split the bill evenly between parties.  Later versions should give diners the option to split the bill different ways.

Locally sourced ingredients

A major trend in 21st Century dining is the use of locally sourced and organic ingredients on the menu. Fresh ingredients can not only have a big impact on the taste of a meal, they are also a more environmentally responsible alternative. A restaurant that has its own garden can also realize some operational cost savings by growing its own produce. Some restaurants are taking full advantage of the popularity of this trend. They are marketing themselves as farm to table establishments and attracting a loyal customer base that chooses restaurants by those criteria.

Food trucks

It is not always convenient to go to a restaurant for lunch, so food trucks are bringing lunch to their customers. From tacos to cupcakes, food trucks seem to be here to stay. Many send text messages to customers so they will know where they will be parked on a specific day.  Food trucks are also becoming a more common fixture at weddings.  They can drive to any location and serve something that has a special significance to the bride and groom.  Food trucks add some fun and kitsch to a special day.

Comfort food

From exclusive restaurants to fancy weddings simple comfort food is gaining popularity on high-brow fare.  Some favorite choices include new twists on mac-n-cheese and burgers and fries. Comfort food at a restaurant does not mean an inferior presentation of the meal.  It is served in the same exacting and creative ways diners expect from a restaurant.


More and more people are being encouraged to participate in the dining experience. Participation can even be considered a form of entertainment. Diners can shuck oysters and watch a waiter prepare guacamole at the table.  Wedding guests can build their own sundaes.

It is exciting to dine in the 21st Century. There are many innovative trends transforming the dining experience. Technology is having a major impact.  There are new Apps available that are redefining what it means to eat out. Locally sourced and organic ingredients have become a standard staple at many restaurants. Some other favorite trends include the rise in popularity of low-brow food, food trucks and participating in the dining experience.

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