To say that it's been a tough few years in the restaurant industry would be putting it lightly.
From the COVID-19 pandemic to labor and supply shortages, restaurant workers have faced a volatile, uncertain couple of years. Will 2022 be any better? Luckily, there's reason for hope.
While the challenges the industry has faced have been unprecedented, good things have come from them. Supply shortages are causing restaurants to be more deliberate about designing their menus and reducing waste. Staffing shortages have given power to restaurant workers to demand the better working conditions and compensation they deserve. And through it all, new technology tools have helped restaurants survive—and sometimes even thrive—through some of the toughest years any of us can remember.
We asked 6 restaurant industry professionals about their resolutions for 2022, and, unsurprisingly, many of them are informed by the recent challenges the industry has faced. But they show that even though things have been hard the last few years, restaurant workers are looking to the new year with hope—and with big plans to make it a better year.
Here are their New Year's resolutions for 2022.
Guy M. Chirico, former owner of Scribners Catskill Lodge and current president of The Inflo Group, said that for him, 2022 will be all about cutting down on food waste.
"Eliminate the waste!" he said. "There are plenty of ways to reutilize your core ingredients throughout the menu. Get creative with specials and stop over-ordering."
Chirico has good reasons for that resolution. Food waste has long been a major issue in the restaurant industry—costing restaurants around $25 billion each year. Not only is food waste expensive, but it's unsustainable. And in this era of supply chain disruptions that lead to ingredient shortages, food waste can even more negatively impact a restaurant—and its bottom line.
But Chirico points to another resolution that can help restaurants turn their unavoidable waste into something positive.
"There are many great startups who will not only take your excess food to bring to those in need, but even pay you for it," he said. Startups like Misfits Market, Too Good To Go, and Goodr are using technology to help reduce and reuse food waste—and more restaurants can take advantage of their products and platforms in 2022 to contribute to the fight to finally end food waste in the industry.
Damon Shrauner, a Senior Sales Consultant at CKitchen, has a lot of resolutions for 2022. But one of his top goals?
"Include more vegan options on the menu," he said. "Including vegan items on your menu can attract a new audience to your restaurant."
This is one of the top trends that restaurant industry experts expect to continue—and even pick up speed—in 2022. Plant-based foods are only gaining in popularity, as more and more consumers seek out healthier and more sustainable ways to eat. In addition to that, Shrauner said he hopes to take even more steps to make his kitchens as eco-friendly as possible, like through energy-efficient appliances.
"Reducing energy usage has a positive impact not only on the environment but also helps save money on your energy bill," he said.
For his other New Year's resolutions, Shrauner will be turning to technology. His restaurant has leaned into online orders during the pandemic, and he hopes to make the online ordering process more streamlined to help him secure larger check sizes.
"The online menu presents your food in a shopping manner that encourages your customers to quickly add items to their cart, resulting in bigger order sizes," he said.
And while he's making updates to his website and other technology, there's a trend Shrauner wants to embrace next year: Online reservations.
"Using a phone or a datebook makes booking difficult. Some phone calls may be missed or bookings can be incorrect," he explained. "Implementing a digital reservation system can benefit everyone from your servers to your customers."
That's true, and more and more restaurants are using technology to help them manage reservations and waitlists—a trend that's likely to continue in 2022 and beyond.
At IV Purpose, a Brooklyn restaurant that opened during the pandemic and became a hub for the local community, owner Darnell Joseph has a few big goals for 2022 that will help him improve his restaurant's employer branding—that is, give his eatery a reputation for being a great place to work that will help him attract the best talent in the industry, labor shortage or not.
"We're including incentives to current employees for referring people to work with us," Joseph said. "We will also be looking into 401(K) type accounts for people who stay employed with us for longer than 6 months."
Joseph's resolution reflects an ongoing trend in the restaurant industry: Workers, who now have their choice of restaurants seeking to fill open positions, are asking for livable wages, which, in many cases, include benefits.
Melissa Collins, partnership manager at Perfect Brew, runs a cafe in Henderson, Nevada. In 2022, her resolution is to embrace more of the technology that became popular and widespread due to the COVID-19 pandemic, including self-service technology for her guests.
"I want to introduce self-service in my restaurant for the upcoming year," Collins said. "This will not replace the wait staff, but will just be a means to help them."
This is the case in many restaurants, where self-service allows guests to better personalize their dining experience, and frees up staff members to do what they do best: Providing the personal touch that's so important to many guests when they dine out.
To offer better self-service options to her guests, Collins is planning to introduce new technology in 2022.
"I plan to have a QR code scanner on each table," she said. "So, the customers can just scan the code to get access to the menu and place an order. The wait staff will only have to serve them."
Matthew Harding, senior vice president of culinary and menu innovation at Piada Italian Street Food, is another restaurant industry professional who sees that 2022 is going to be all about employer branding and taking good care of restaurant employees. His resolution for the New Year, he said, is to, "continue to bring world class programs, benefits and opportunities to our hourly and management teams with growth and benefits."
But Harding wants to do more than just that—he also wants to see his restaurant continue to grow and improve, just like it has in years past.
"Don’t sacrifice anything with food quality," he said about his New Year's resolution. "Continual improvement in products and foods that we serve our guests."
And finally, there's David Bloom, Chief Development & Operating Officer for Capriotti’s Sandwich Shop and Wing Zone. For his New Year's resolution, Bloom kept things simple: Stay the course, and keep growing and improving just like his restaurants have in years past.
"Our resolutions are pretty simple as a company operating two high growth brands both domestically and internationally," Bloom said. "Our commitment and focus is to remain true to our core values in everything we do, to lead and operate on the forward edge of the technology disruption curve by forward investing in our growth and capabilities, and to invest in our people, our partnerships and our long term relationships."
It's easy to see that there's a common thread among what restaurateurs are expecting and hoping for in 2022. They're putting a huge emphasis on investing in people—from staff to guests—and expecting those investments to pay dividends.
Bloom continued, "I believe that is fundamental to why we have been experiencing record growth, revenue and profitability year after year, and we are extremely well positioned and prepared for another year of exponential growth."
Make 2022 Your Restaurant's Best Year Yet
There's one easy way to ensure your restaurant is ready to take on whatever growth, surprises, and new challenges 2022 may bring: Popmenu.
There's never been a better time to invest in your restaurant's future. Popmenu is a great investment because it's the only all-in-one platform made just for restaurateurs, by restaurateurs. Popmenu offers all the technology you need to help your restaurant stay competitive in the digital age—all in one platform, for one monthly fee that never goes up.
Whether your New Year's resolution is to mobile-optimize your restaurant's website, expand your direct online ordering for takeout and delivery orders, digitize your waitlist, automate your marketing efforts, or take control of your social platforms and SEO, Popmenu can help. From first impression to final bite, Popmenu is the only platform that gives independent restaurants complete control over their digital presence.
A new year is right around the corner. Make sure that in 2022, your restaurant is ready to succeed—with Popmenu. Schedule a free demo today.