It would have been hard to predict how much restaurants would change over the last ten years, or even the last several years. Inflation, staff shortages, and illness have deeply affected everything from medical care to egg prices, and chances are if you’ve dined out, even semi-recently, you’ve noticed a big difference in your experience. Like everything since the outbreak of COVID, restaurants have had to pivot. It’s a new world for restaurants in 2023, but experts say there’s much to look forward to as well.
People Want to Go Out to Eat Again
Here’s some good news: People want to go out to eat again. They crave the dining experience and are willing to pay a little more for it. According to the National Restaurant Association, consumers are looking to spend their leisure time with family and friends, rather than cooking and cleaning up. Restaurant operators have reported business is getting close to “normal” (pre-pandemic customer numbers), and their focus this year is sustainable growth for the future, says the article. Many consumers seek bargains, loyalty programs, and discounts when dining out; however, Gen Z and Millennials are the two groups most comfortable with their steady or growing finances this year. They are more likely to spend their money on entertainment and dining out, says QSRmagazine.
In addition to that good news, here’s some more: the foodservice industry has been predicted to earn $997 billion in sales in 2023, says the National Restaurant Association. This is due in part to the rising prices on menus. The downside, though, is that most restaurant owners and operators are worried about high food costs that affect menu prices and portion sizes, says QSR.
High Food Costs are Top of Mind
High food costs are at the forefront of restaurant owners’ minds, and, unfortunately, there are some things that will make 2023 challenging for the foodservice industry. Since the lockdown in 2020, finding food service workers has been difficult. Not much is going to change in that way, says Restaurant Dive. According to the National Restaurant Association food service jobs are estimated to grow by 500,000 jobs by the end of the year. The dip in help has left owners and operators zeroing in on efficiency, and is likely, in the near future, that staffing will never look like it did pre-pandemic, says Restaurant Dive. That means more restaurants are implementing digital ways to reduce “front-of-house costs,” says the article, with pay-at-table options or tableside ordering, and even hiring remote workers for drive-thrus and walk-up counters. It also means giving staff more prep work before shifts alleviating some pressure during service hours.
Like many industries after the COVID outbreak, restaurants are slowly climbing their way back up. 2023 predictions aren’t nearly as stark as previous years, but they still present some challenges. Creative ideas, trying new methods, and leaving room for trial and error, are the name of the game these days. Restaurants across the country are stepping up to the plate.