Every year it seems the restaurant industry sees many changes, and 2019 looks to be no different. In fact, we’re seeing some very exciting shifts. Here’s our list of top restaurant trends for 2019.

Single Item Restaurants

Big menus are so…yesterday. Today, restaurants are scaling back the menu and focusing on what they do best, and in some cases, they are featuring only one item. Like Buttermilk in Orange, California, which only serves fried chicken and the fixins, and  Yume Ga Arukara in Cambridge, Massachusetts, which only serves udon.

Get Rid of Plastics

Gen Z and beyond do not want to see anything plastic that is not reusable. Restaurants know this. That’s why so many aren’t offering straws these days. (That may have seemed like an overnight change, but it’s actually been in the works since 2010 thanks to a problem-solving 9-year-old.)

2019 restaurant trends

Find a Use For Ugly Produce

Not all produce falls off the tree looking symmetrical and blemish-free. While you know that is common sense, consumers have become conditioned to seeing their produce merchandized to the point of perfection. But what happens to the rejects? According to this article, rejected produce goes to animal feed, compost, or the landfill, with the true amount in the landfill unknown.  Chefs and buyers with flexibility in what they purchase are taking a stand and choosing ugly produce. Check out Food Maven in Denver (and others) that are making a business out of unwanted food.

Self-Serve Kiosks

If you’ve stepped into a McDonald’s recently, you’ve noticed the kiosks. They are coming to many more fast food—and fast casual— restaurants very soon.

Closeup of the server station at Boqueria

Server Station at the Center

During a recent trip to Stockholm, the FDR culinary team got a chance to indulge at Boqueria, a Spanish restaurant. It was a true case study in restaurant design. We particularly liked the server station at the center of the dining room. We’re accustomed to the open kitchen format, and this had a similar feel.

tomato analysisCalorie Counts on Menus

After years of threatening to enforce a mandatory nutrition analysis rule, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has finally followed through. As of May 2018, restaurants with 20 or more locations must provide a calorie count on menus and menu boards and detailed nutrition analysis (more than just calorie count) to a customer upon request. Now that bigger restaurants will be forced to comply, you can expect the smaller, local restaurants to follow suit. (By the way, FDR provides a restaurant nutrition analysis service.)

ALL CAPS, all lowercase

In all our research, we couldn’t help but notice how many restaurants are choosing names using all uppercase and all lowercase letters—for example, noma, xtebarri, MAYDĀN, BOQUERIA, and DŌ. Turns out naming conventions follow trends, too.


Like these restaurant trends? Check out our list of 2019 food and beverage trends, too.

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