All great restaurateurs know how crucial data is to the growth of a restaurant. At Upserve, we believe mastering the data available in your restaurant POS system is the key to larger profits, growth, and running a more efficient restaurant.
While some aspects of the industry are evergreen, trends are always on the horizon and the most successful restaurants seek out ways to stay ahead of the competition. By keeping up with new and emerging trends, restaurateurs have the opportunity to offer their regulars a new experience and attract new diners looking for adventure.
How to Keep Up with Restaurant Industry Trends
1. Read restaurant industry blogs
There are hundreds—possibly thousands—of restaurant industry blogs that are eagerly waiting to be read by restaurateurs like you. We made a list of some of our favorite restaurant management blogs that give us the insights we need when we’re exploring the latest trends in the industry.
2. Stay active on social media
With 77% of the US population active on social media today, there is no better place to keep up with trends than the bustling platforms of Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Restaurant owners and their hungry diners are constantly sharing their experiences from all over the world, giving you access to millions of emerging experiences and food and beverage trends at your fingertips.
3. Talk to other restaurant owners, managers, and chefs in your community
Although social media gives you access to people from all over the world, sometimes the best knowledge is available right around the corner. Stay connected with the members of your community—both in and out of the restaurant industry—to stay inspired all year long. Below are the most important restaurant industry statistics that will help you make better business decisions in 2021.
If you don’t have the time to keep tabs on what’s happening across the restaurant industry, we rounded up over 50 of the most crucial statistics to keep you in the know.
General Restaurant Industry Statistics
- There are over one million restaurants in the United States.
- Over 200 million U.S. consumers visited a sit-down restaurant in 2018.
- 65% of restaurant guests prefer to control how much they tip, as opposed to adopting auto-gratuities or the tip-free movement.
- 13% of consumers consider themselves brand loyal to restaurants.
Restaurant Menu Statistics
- 79% of Millennials state that they enjoy experimenting with products from different cultures or countries.
- 86% of Millennials will try a new restaurant after seeing food-related content online.
- 77% of restaurant chefs surveyed by the National Restaurant Association (NRA) identified cannabis/CBD-infused drinks as the number one trend in the restaurant industry right now.
- Vegan menu items are on the rise as Millennials and Gen Z become more health and environmentally conscious.
- And speaking of health-conscious, mocktails and alcohol-free spirits are gaining popularity as well.
- Japanese ingredients were big in 2020 and continue to rise—think miso, sake, kimchi, koji, and more.
Restaurant Digital Marketing Statistics
- 90% of guests research a restaurant online before dining—more than any other business type.
- 57% of those guests viewed restaurant websites before selecting where to dine.
- 52% of all worldwide online traffic was generated through mobile phones, up from 50% in the previous year.
See more restaurant industry stats and trends in Upserve’s State of the Restaurant Industry Report
Restaurant Online Ordering Statistics
- Digital channel sales are on pace to reach 30% of total sales for US restaurants by 2025.
- 60% of U.S. consumers order delivery or takeout once a week.
- 34% of consumers spend at least $50 per order when ordering food online.
- 20% of consumers say they spend more on off-premise orders compared to a regular dine-in experience.
- Digital ordering and delivery has grown 300% faster than dine-in traffic since 2014.
- 70% of consumers say they’d rather order directly from a restaurant, preferring that their money goes straight to the restaurant and not a third party. This makes the value of a native online ordering solution that much stronger for restaurants.
- 45% of consumers say that offering mobile ordering or loyalty programs would encourage them to use online ordering services more often.
- 63% of consumers agree that it is more convenient to get delivery than dining out with a family.
- 60% of restaurant operators say that offering delivery has generated incremental sales.
- Orders placed via smartphone and mobile apps will become a $38 billion industry in 2020.
- Delivery sales could rise an annual average of more than 20% to $365 billion worldwide by 2030, from $35 billion.
Restaurant Review Statistics
- 92% of consumers read restaurant reviews.
- 77% prefer peer reviews versus critic reviews.
- 33% would never eat a restaurant with less than four stars.
Restaurant Tech Statistics
- Over 80% of restaurants are turning to technology—like online ordering, reservation and inventory apps, and restaurant analytics—now more than ever to help them run their business successfully and efficiently.
- 41% of restaurants use, or will soon use, handheld server tablets.
- 68% of customers agree that the use of server tablets improve the restaurant experience.
- Integrating your restaurant POS and reservations management system can boost your online reviews by 1/4 of a star and create 2% more return customers (who tend to spend 67% more on average).
Restaurant Employment Statistics
- There are 15.1 million restaurant industry employees in the United States.
- 1.6 million new restaurant jobs will be created by 2028.
- The restaurant workforce makes up 10% of the overall U.S. workforce.
- 3 in 10 restaurateurs cite staffing as a challenge.
- 9 in 10 restaurant managers started at entry-level.
- 8 in 10 restaurant owners started their industry careers in entry-level positions.
- 9 in 10 restaurants have fewer than 50 employees.
- 76 percent of restaurateurs are looking for labor management tools in their restaurant point of sale.
In order to understand one of the hottest topics in the industry, 7shifts surveyed over 1,900 restaurant employees—from cooks to servers, juice bars to pizzerias—to determine what makes them happy in their restaurant and what managers can do to improve workplace satisfaction.
- Overall, restaurant employees rate their workplace happiness as an 8/10.
- Over 60% of workers felt that a promotion would markedly increase their workplace happiness.
- 67% of restaurant employees would like to receive paid bonuses as recognition from management.
- 70% of restaurant employees reported that they would like hands-on training from managers.
- Restaurant employees who are going to quit their job are extremely unhappy with the amount of recognition they receive from management. They want to receive recognition as paid bonuses (72%), verbal kudos (36%), and promotions (32%).
- 40% of restaurant employees report a lack of team-building events and activities, and nearly a quarter are actively unhappy with how few activities they have.
How Industry-Leading Benefits and a New Point-of-Sale Fixed a Nashville Restaurant’s Turnover Troubles
“If you’ve worked in restaurants at all, you know that they’re not very healthy spaces, particularly the kitchens. They can be super-toxic places, and that really goes against who we are. We primarily address that through hiring and building a healthy work culture,” he says. “But the other way we do it is by not allowing the kitchen to be isolated; and we unify the teams, obviously through culture, but also literally in with use of space.”
For Cunnigham, he knew he had to do something to ensure that Stay Golden wouldn’t suffer the same fate that so many other Nashville restaurants faced.
“Four hundred restaurants have opened in Nashville in the last two years. We’re seeing old staples—businesses that have been around for 30 years—close every month simply because there are so many new restaurants now,” Cunningham explains. “A lot of those new businesses are hospitality groups coming in from much larger cities like New York, San Francisco, and Chicago. The way they’ve gotten good employees when they don’t know anybody is to just come in and offer more money. It’s created a negative unemployment situation, particularly in back-of-house in Nashville.”
With the threat of back-of-house employees walking out in the middle of a shift for a dollar more per hour at another restaurant, Cunningham knew that Stay Golden would have to take steps to ensure employee retainment.
“We have unprecedented benefits in our industry. Our full-time employees have full health benefits, dental, vision. We pay for 80% of that. They have PTO that accumulates every day that they’re working. They have sick days,” he says. “And that’s just scratching the surface of what we offer employees.”
With restaurants scrambling to find the right business model in a time of high employee turnover, Cunningham set out to find what he thought was the best POS solution for Stay Golden. “A lot of businesses in Nashville have become fast-casual operations; and there’s nothing wrong with fast-casual, it’s just not our style,” he says.
Instead of turning Stay Golden into a fast-casual concept, he attempted to maximize his staff by using a restaurant point of sale built for fast-casual operations. After implementing a system that included iPads at every table where guests could order another drink or an extra dessert, Cunningham felt he could better spend his money on attracting fewer servers with more experience. However, the system backfired after both employees and customers became frustrated with the POS.
“Nashville didn’t care for it. Customers felt like we were trying to replace people, which, of course, we weren’t,” he says. “I had employees who were so stressed out by the POS’s lack of functionality that they quit.”
In order to stay ahead of the rapid growth of restaurants in Nashville and high employee turnover, he knew he needed a restaurant point of sale system that would help him retain employees, not drive them away. “We knew that we had to get a different system,” he says. “We started looking for a solution, and Upserve was a great one.”
Because of Upserve’s versatility and tableside mobile ordering solution, Cunningham knew he finally found the right fit. However, he had a team at Stay Golden that was less than enthusiastic about “new” POS systems.
“I think the first reaction was that everybody knew they wanted a new system; but then, when it came time to actually implementing it, they didn’t trust that it would work,” he says. “There was definitely some stress how hard it would be to relearn. Later, employees who walked into their first shift with the system uneasy and afraid that it wasn’t gonna work, within an hour and a half said: ‘This system is so fast, it does what we want, and it was really intuitive.’”
By taking the time to understand employees’ needs, respond to feedback about the systems crucial to the restaurant’s operation, and keeping employee happiness, in mind, Cunningham and his team have established a positive culture that their customers can feel, too.
“We work really hard to take care of our employees,” Cunningham says. “We take care of them first. We believe that if they feel cared for and valued and they’re in an environment where they can contribute and take ownership, then that trickles down to the guests.”