• Jerry Thomas

3 Major Restaurant Trends for 2019

Our world is changing, rapidly with the creep of technology into every single aspect of our lives. This has drastically disrupted industries like transportation, healthcare, and beyond.

But one industry that has been a slow adopter of technology is restaurants. This article focuses on technologies that will directly improve the operations of a restaurant.


73% of consumers think technology improves their dining experience 95% of restaurant owners agree that technology improves restaurant efficiency


An “adoption curve” shows the progression of technology adoption life cycles.

Currently,  the restaurant industry falls into the “Early-Adopter” category, but we know this will shift into the “Early majority” in 2019. Pushing these technologies from a nice-to-have features, toward must-haves to keep a competitive advantage.

The three trends we will dive into and provide current real-world examples:

Personalization - the ability to have, create, and predict custom items for individual consumers.

Automation - the partial or full assistance to complete tasks, typically completed by a human.

Food Biotech, Sourcing & Labeling - new types of food, new ways to grow food, and how it will all be labeled.




Today’s consumer has more choice than ever, thanks to modern manufacturing. Custom experiences via technology--this is one major trend that is about to trickle down to restaurants.

No longer will it be taboo to be the ‘picky’ order removing or adding components, it will become the norm in many instances (does not apply to certain types of fine-dining or highly curated dishes).

Chains like Subway and Chipotle set the standard here, and while you think maybe it’s only a few ‘custom options’ think about the fact that from only 34 ingredients in stock, you can make 76,800 menu options!


72 percent of consumers expect customization


One of the major reasons for this is the proliferation of exclusion diets’ (having to avoid certain foods because of specific ailment or allergy) 10% of the world’s population is on some sort of ‘exclusion diet’. If you take into account ‘excluding foods’ for preferences that number jumps up to well over 50% of the world’s population.

Technology that will enable such innovation starts with the ability to identify individual consumers. Either through mobile apps, self-identification, or even facial recognition.


Try the Trend

CaliBurger in Pasadena, California utilizing the from the company NeoFace to help you order faster based on stored preferences.




Self-Service Software

Installing automated services is a must for restaurants these days.

Self-service kiosks offer the option to bypass the traditional ordering - over the counter. This is enabled by both physical kiosks and mobile apps.

Starbucks has hired more baristas and less cashiers simply to keep up with the demand created by their order ahead platform. Saving them hundreds of thousands in cost, and creating new revenues.

Kiosks produce a consistently higher check average compared to traditional counter, and 65% of consumers will use a kiosk when one is available.


Robotics is a term that brings to mind Jetson-esque futuristic scenarios, however, companies like Miso Robotics have created very singular robotics that can do repetitive processes with incredible efficiency.

Miso Robotics’ burger turning robot, Flippy, is currently operational at Dodgers Stadium this season. The Cafe X robotic barista (who can make 120 drinks in 1 hour) with 3 different locations in San Francisco. These two examples utilize robotic arms that perform specific tasks.  


Try the Trend

Cafe X is a fully self-service, yet high-end, coffee kiosk with three locations throughout San Francisco.


Cobotics involves processes where man and machine work together, a relatively new term to the general public. Cobotics for restaurants specifically are a great fit.

Certain technologies fall into this category, because they are tools that are operated by or alongside humans as opposed to full ‘replacement’ like some robotics.


Try the Trend

Somabar has deployed beta-units throughout Los Angeles’ restaurants and bars of their "robo-mixologist" which can make more than 800 different cocktails! Featuring their patented processes to blend the alcohol and mix a perfect cocktail.


Food Creation, Sourcing, & Labeling


Admittedly, this is a different type of "technology" but nonetheless, this bio-technology is going to revolutionize many aspects of food services.

Engineered Foods - Plant based proteins will become much more accessible through companies like Beyond Meat and Impossible foods.

Labeling - Labeling has already become a massive aspect of the grocery experience as well as online shopping.

This will expand to the menus, especially digital and online where transparency will only grow.

Apps like HowGood give sustainability ratings ranging from ‘good’ to ‘best’ giving immediate transparency to foods and ingredients.  

These type of distinctions for "sustainable" menus will it will be reflected in Yelp and other search engines.


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Pole & Line is a brand of canned albacore tuna, which is traceable to the exact captain and vessel that caught the fish. Now that’s true transparency 2.0 in the food supply chain!

*side note: The milk industry fell behind the curve allowing products like “almond milk and soy milk” to use the word “milk”, losing MASSIVE market share to these new competitors.

The meat industry saw this and is very conscious about not letting Beyond Meat and others refer to their product as “meat”. Will be something to watch for as the awareness and benefits push these products forward. How will consumers react?

On-Site Farming

On-site farming has always been a niche, the garden outside your local Italian restaurant may have grown their own basil… This evolves greatly in 2019, thanks to uber-efficient hydroponic growing systems that pay for themselves quickly in ROI.

Vertical farms and ‘farms in a box’ like FreightFarms’s shipping container farm are compact hyper-efficient, and often highly-automated. Allowing a restaurant to minimize their cost on outside ingredients.

This is also a major marketing boost for these restaurants to have this as part of their story!


Try the Trend

Tender Greens in Hollywood uses aeroponic growing techniques for on-site farming. The produce is used throughout their menu. Featuring 24 towers, which can fit 44 plants per tower!




Technology is coming to restaurants, and will have a massive impact on which will survive and which will finally have to close their doors. Legacy restaurant chains are leading the change, but young single location restaurants gain the technologies that allow them to compete with the scale of these incumbents.

  • 73% of consumers think technology improves their dining experience

  • 95% of restaurant owners agree that technology improves restaurant efficiency

The restaurant industry is embracing technology. Is your restaurant?

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