RASI Partner Upserve’s State Of The Restaurant Industry

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This year the restaurant industry has been turned on its head and every operator has made major adjustments just to ensure their businesses simply survive. RASI Director of Partnerships, Brad Bertram is joined by RASI Partner, Amber Van Moessner, Senior Director of Communications at Upserve as she delves into the top trends of the restaurant industry in 2020, as well as what to expect for 2021; plus, some bonus tips from 10 restaurants who were able to beat the odds and grow their Year-Over-Year Sales by 188% this year! Check out what the Upserve Data Science Team learned from their 10,000+ restaurant customers below.

TOP MENU TRENDS in 2020 FOR RESTAURANT ONLINE ORDERING

  • Online ordering sales in 2020 have obviously increased dramatically, but the biggest menu trends were around food item types.
    • In previous years, like in 2019, there was a major trend towards health-foods like ancient grains, tinned fish, mushrooms, and food with more probiotics in them.
    • In 2020 that’s completely out the door. People want pizza, burgers, fried chicken.
  • The biggest trend this year was sandwiches and wraps, which are food items that travel really well.
    • Restaurants have pivoted their menus to think about delivery and not solely focused just on what’s going to taste good, but what’s also going to look good when it ends up in the hand of a customer 10 or 15 minutes after it leaves the restaurant.
  • There was a 4% increase year over year in orders of bread like people are just, you know, taking what they can get and making the most of it.

RESTAURANT DINE-IN MENU TRENDS FOR 2020

  • Seafood and steak trends increased by 17% and 8%, respectively. If people aren’t going to make a meal at home and they’re going to venture out, they’re going big.
    • Operators are starting to think about how they can create those memorable meals that will really wow folks and make them excited about leaving their homes to eat.
  • There was also a 14% uptick in sandwiches and wraps for dine-in. When people are actually leaving their homes to go out to eat, they’re also thinking about their next meal, so they may be getting food items like a sandwich, to-go, where they’ll have leftovers for the next day.
    • Additionally, in cities where diners might typically get food at lunch at their office, and they’re not going to an office anymore, they’re going out to get those sandwiches they’d typically get to the office.
  • James Beard Dine-In Trends
    • Family-Style meals; fish, chicken, salads, and veggie-based as the prices of beef spiked across the country.
    • Tasting menus paired with bottles of wine and cocktails to create an overall “experience” while dining out.

TOP 3 MENU TRENDS BY RESTAURANT TYPE

An interesting note in the Fast Casual space was the increase in coffee sales. Even if a restaurant didn’t typically serve coffee, they started to serve it because it enabled them to open before a big chain; a fantastic example of restaurants rising to the occasion and meeting the needs of their market with strategic menu changes.

2020 SALES TRENDS

  • Nationally, there was clearly a large drop in sales between March and April: – 90% year-over-year as everything ground to a halt early on in the pandemic.
  • Sales have now slowly climbed back up to, on average, -35% to -40% year-over-year sales.
  • Fast Casual and Casual/Pub restaurants are faring the best in terms of YOY sales
    • Bars and fine dining have been hit the hardest, with bars having greater restrictions and fine dining struggling to pivot to takeout and online ordering with higher price points.
  • Boston, New Orleans, and San Francisco were hardest hit in terms of YOY sales which makes sense as they’re all big tourism areas, and Boston is a big college town.

WANT TO HEAR UPSERVE’S TIPS ON BIG 3RD PARTY DELIVERY PLAYERS? WATCH THE FULL VIDEO here:

2020 HOLIDAY RESTAURANT SALES TRENDS

  • On popular restaurant holidays, there is still a 306% spike for both in-house and online orders.
  • However, there is also an above-average drop in sales in the 48 hours following each holiday.

How Do You Take Advantage While Not Losing Out On The Post-Holiday Drop?

  • Ramp up your marketing efforts
  • Schedule enough staff on holidays
  • Reduce staff following a holiday
  • Keep the 2-day lull in mind when ordering inventory for the week

TIPS FROM RESTAURANTS WHO GREW THEIR SALES UP TO 188% IN 2020

  • Fully Committing to Online Ordering: Running your OLO like it is its own business and building a strategy around your OLO as if it were a second restaurant
    • Hear from 3 restaurants on how they dedicated strategies to online, to-go, and delivery here.
  • Having Creative & Dedicated Marketing Strategies: Similar to online ordering, strategizing exactly where your marketing dollars and efforts are going to go. Ensuring your social media presence and the way you communicate with your customers are of high focus.
    • Hear from 3 restaurants on how they were insanely creative with their marketing strategies here!
  • Simplifying Your Menu: With online ordering, is everything on your menu going to travel well? What are your highest performing dishes? Make sure you’re analyzing your P-Mix and your Sales Data to understand what actually drives revenue for your business. Also, what are your food costs on those menu items?
    • Hear from 3 restaurants on how they simplified their menu to generate more revenue here!
  • Diversifying your revenue streams: Finding ways to supplement your revenue as more restrictions are placed on dine-in. Whether it’s selling merchandise or creating virtual events, find alternate ways to bring in revenue.
    • Hear from 3 restaurants on how they created new revenue streams here!

TOP 5 RESTAURANT TRENDS FOR 2021

  1. Hospitality Is Still King: Whether people are dining in or ordering out, they’re still looking for that experience of hospitality. Think about how you can extend your brand and extend your personal brand of hospitality to every experience.
  2. Always Adapt: Just because something’s working out for you doesn’t mean it’s will continue to work out; There’s always new opportunities to bring in revenue and bring in new customers, so it’s really important to keep your head on a swivel and keep looking for that next thing until we get back to some sense of normalcy for the industry.
  3. Online Ordering Is Here To Stay: The consumer behavior has shifted, and even as things return to normal and restaurants reopen, we’re still going to see that demand for online ordering. This is a good time to really nail that strategy.
  4. Simply & Adapt Your Menus: Take a critical look at your food costs, your ingredients, what your customers are ordering, what they’re not ordering, and make sure that your menu is as tight as possible.
  5. Look Outside The Box For New Opportunities: Talk to other restaurant owners and see what they’re doing, see what has worked for them and what hasn’t. Look outside the industry and just see what other businesses in general are doing to thrive and see if you can adapt some of those concepts within.

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