Restaurant Industry Trends 2022: The State of Restaurants Report

  • 100+ industry insights from U.S. restaurants
  • An analysis of the top restaurant trends for 2022
  • First-hand accounts from real restaurant owners
  • Tools and strategies for restaurant recovery
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The past few years have turned the restaurant industry on its head and dramatically altered the way that many restaurateurs run their businesses. To help operators make sense of these changes, we’ve put together a comprehensive report detailing the top restaurant industry trends for 2022.

To compile our 2022 State of Restaurants Report, we surveyed more than 500 full service restaurant owners, presidents, CEOs, and general managers from across the U.S. We then compared our restaurant research to the data collected for our 2020 State of Restaurants Report to identify what has changed, anticipate upcoming restaurant trends, and help operators find solutions for the challenges they’re facing.

We also took an even deeper dive at the state of full service restaurants in New York City, Los Angeles, and Dallas to see how these changes are playing out in some of the country’s largest urban areas.

Inside our 2022 State of Restaurants Report, you’ll find…

  • 100+ industry insights from restaurateurs across the U.S.
  • An analysis of the top five restaurant trends for 2022
  • First-hand accounts from real restaurant owners
  • Tools and strategies for restaurant recovery

Keep scrolling for a sneak peek at some of our key findings and a preview of the top restaurant industry trends for 2022. For a complete picture of the changing restaurant landscape in 2022, download the restaurant industry report now.

Key Findings from the State of Restaurants Report

There’s no question that the restaurant industry has been hit particularly hard by the pandemic. But as our 2022 restaurant industry report uncovered, the situation is more complicated than a bit of lost revenue and widespread layoffs.

Source of Financial Strain Revealed

Restaurants took a major financial hit during the pandemic and more than half (54%) of operators were forced to dip into their own savings just to stay afloat.

But while the cost of rent may have captured headlines early in the pandemic, inventory costs actually proved to be the number one source of financial strain for operators. Additionally, many operators also cited the cost of implementing new health and safety measures – such as providing PPE for staff and upgrading their HVAC systems – as another major expense.

The Restaurant Recruitment Struggle Continues

Staffing challenges aren’t exactly a new problem for restaurants, with three in four restaurants reporting regular labor shortages back in 2019. However, our latest data shows that the pandemic dramatically shrunk the pool of available workers – especially when it comes to servers and dishwashers.

In an effort to recruit new staff, restaurants have overwhelmingly turned to social media, with nearly half (49%) saying it’s their primary way of finding new employees. The kinds of incentives that restaurants are offering prospective staff have also shifted with 57% saying they offer benefits as a way of staying competitive and attracting new staff.

Inside of the 2022 The State of Restaurants Report.

POS Shopping Accelerates

In an effort to navigate the many changes brought on by the pandemic, operators overwhelmingly turned to one key piece of restaurant technology: their POS system. A whopping 67% of restaurateurs changed their POS system in the past year. And of those who made a change, the majority of those opted for a POS system with integrated payments. 

But while the pandemic may have pushed POS shopping into overdrive, the things that operators want from their POS remain unchanged. Just like in 2019, ease of use, affordability, and reliability remain the top three factors considered when choosing a new POS system.

The Golden Age of Online Ordering

Though online ordering has been around for years, dining room closures, social distancing, and strict capacity limits made this technology more essential than ever before. Our restaurant research uncovered that 95% of restaurants say they are now using at least one online ordering platform.

And while Uber Eats was the most popular online ordering platform, more than a third (34%) of operators report using a direct online ordering system. This suggests that there’s a growing demand for in-house online ordering solutions.

While the pandemic has disrupted the restaurant industry in countless ways, there are several promising restaurant trends to keep an eye on in 2022. Below is a sneak peek at some of the top restaurant industry trends identified in our report and a glimpse at what the future of restaurants might look like.

Off-Premise Persistence

Perhaps the biggest trend highlighted by our restaurant industry report has been the value of online ordering as a permanent revenue stream for restaurants. Despite dining rooms reopening in 2021, more than half (57%) of restaurateurs said they conducted 21-40% of their business through online ordering platforms. This suggests that the demand for takeout and delivery is likely to remain high in 2022 and restaurateurs need to figure out how to get the most out of these essential platforms – whether that involves working with third parties or taking things in-house.

The Contactless Tipping Point

It looks like the future of restaurants will not only be cashless, but also contactless. During the pandemic, virtually all restaurants introduced some form of contactless payments, with seven in 10 restaurants opting to implement mobile pay and QR codes. This shift towards contactless payments is expected to continue growing in 2022 as consumers become more comfortable using these flexible payment options when dining out.

To get even more restaurant industry trends for 2022 and a better idea of the future of restaurants, download the full State of Restaurants Report.

This study was conducted by Maru/Blue research firm on behalf of TouchBistro.

The results come from surveying over 500 full service restaurant owners, managers, and presidents/CEOs from across the U.S. Included in this number was an increased focus on three major cities: New York City, Los Angeles, and Dallas. The research was conducted in November 2021.

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