Special Report

20 Ways Restaurants Are Going to Change in 2021 and Beyond

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16. Non-food companies will take food orders

As people increasingly order restaurant food to be delivered, rather than going out to restaurants, new alliances could be formed. For instance, says the report, “a media-streaming service could buy or pair with existing meal delivery services to create an all-in-one dinner and entertainment experience.”

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17. Algorithms might produce new taste experiences

As AI systems collect and analyze data about foods, beverages, ingredients, and tastes, new recipes and kinds of food and drink could be created. “Some AIs,” the report predicts, “could become as well-known as human chefs, baristas and bartenders.”

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18. Climate change could affect menus and prices

What the report calls “weather volatility” could affect growing patterns for both standard and specialty crops and encourage the popularity of lab-grown and plant-based meats or meat substitutes. Carbon taxes on foods themselves or on their production and distribution processes could make them more expensive. More eating places will be conceived and designed to be energy efficient and to minimize waste, and they’ll have smaller physical footprints due to increased delivery and takeout. Packaging for delivery and takeout will become more sophisticated and effective.

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19. There’ll be fewer restaurants to choose from

It’s no secret that the restaurant business has been devastated by COVID-19, with everything from fast-food units to Michelin-starred fine-dining places closing down for good. The NRA recently reported that some 100,000 restaurants around the U.S. have shuttered either permanently or indefinitely, and that 40% of restaurant proprietors surveyed think they’ll probably be out of business by late spring of 2021 if there is no support from the federal government. At least for the foreseeable future, then, our choice of places to dine out will be reduced.

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20. We might not care that much if there are fewer restaurants

According to information compiled by international strategy and consulting firm Simon-Kucher & Partners and shared with QSR Magazine, before the pandemic, Americans cooked an average of 33% of their meals at home, eating out 67% of the time. Now the percentages have shifted to 55% at home, 45% away. Though some consumers seem to be getting tired of making their own meals, QSR notes that “the daily quarantine routine of cooking at home is going to be ingrained in a lot of households.” Simon-Kucher also believes that Americans “will be more mindful of where and how they spend their money post COVID-19,” so even when restaurants are fully open and the economy has rebounded, at least some potential diners might just prefer to fire up their home ovens instead of heading out for a meal.

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