4 Restaurant Trends to Watch in 2017
Convenience, healthy choices, speed, and customization; these are the customer expectations that are driving this year’s restaurant trends. As the microbrewery concept goes mainstream, and fast casual pizza chains continue to zoom to the forefront at lightning speed, restaurants are trying to catch the wave of these 4 food crazes spurring restaurant trends for 2017.
#1: Popular Spots Look to Add Fast Casual Pizza
“A pizza place where you make your own pie!” When Seinfeld’s beloved Kramer character suggested it, Jerry thought it was one of the dumbest ideas he’d ever heard. George scoffed at the thought of customers “shoving their hands in 600 degree ovens.” Believe it or not, that casual pizza idea is the top restaurant trend for 2017.
Brought to fruition by the former head of Starbucks Europe, MOD pizza is the first casual pizza chain to crack the $100 million mark and recently joined the ranks of the top 500 fastest growing brands in 2015. That is just three years after their debut in 2012. Even Lebron James has added his star power to the fastest growing casual pizza chain, Blaze, in his hometown of Columbus, OH.
Savvy restaurant owners looking to seize on this trend are expanding their menu offerings in-restaurant by adding their own fast casual pizza. Instead of making pizza stations made up of one-size-fits-all pizzas that sit under heat lamps, restaurants are swapping those out for fresh, fast, and customizable casual pizza bars. Locally in the Jackson, Mississippi restaurant space, we have seen two examples of these concepts with PieFive Pizza Co. in Flowood and most recently Your Pie in Gluckstadt.
#2: Healthy Choices Leads to Salad Restaurants
One trend for Americans overall has been to try to eat healthier which has put pressure on restaurants to provide healthier options. A recent restaurant trend affecting many top national brands is salad restaurants.
Salad-only restaurants are popping up everywhere, using chefs and wait staff to assemble salads based directly on customer input. Patrons walk down the salad line which is kept behind a glass window to keep food fresh and free from germs while they pick and choose how they want their salads built.
Based on evidence that diners are turned off by pre-packaged salads with nearly half of those surveyed preferring to pick and choose their toppings themselves, restaurants see the need to offer better salad choices. Another local example of this is Freshii in the Market Street Development in Flowood.
#3: Gourmet Burgers
Americans love burgers, evidenced by the extraordinary success of so many hamburger chains, both locally and nationally. In 2017, even the classic hamburger is getting a bit of a makeover, making it a trend to watch. What is driving the burger trend is the desire for something new, exotic, and premium.
Gourmet burgers are the hottest trend in restaurants. Customers want to be offered more types of meat, including healthier options like turkey and chicken. Patrons are also being lured by higher grades of cheeses and breads; Kaiser and pretzel buns have been included on restaurant menus almost 100% more often over the last three years. There are several gourmet burger concepts around Jackson, like Mugshots Grill & Bar and Burgers & Blues, but there is still room for other players and lots of interest for this sector in our market as we speak.
#4: Craft Breweries
Nationally the trend in craft breweries as a whole is slowing down, the concept as a restaurant trend is just now heating up. Once microbreweries began catching the attention of big beer brands like Anheuser-Busch, microbreweries began springing up all over the country.
The trend for restaurants is to offer specialty selections from locally popular craft brewers. There are a lot of changes in the types of brews customers are looking for in 2017. Patrons are looking for better quality crafts that include more lager, less hops, more flavors, and more pale ales.
This concept would not have been an option in Mississippi until recently, but now this category could become reality for some of the already established Breweries thanks to House Bill 1322 that was recently passed into law.
Americans spent more on restaurants than they did grocery last years, so we forsee restaurant trends continuing to grow for the foreseeable future.
By Micah McCullough, CCIM
Vice President | NAI UCR Properties