If ever there was a time that required the restaurant industry to flex its creativity muscles, it’s been over this past year. It’s so important for restauranteurs to be aware of what is happening in the industry at large, so we’ve rounded up the top trends that are shaping the restaurant and fast-food industry like never before.

Cloud Kitchens

Cloud kitchens, also known as dark/ delivery/ ghost/ virtual kitchens, are basically virtual restaurants that run many restaurants from one centralized location, servicing customers who order online. This is not a new concept in South Africa, but the Pandemic definitely fast-tracked this trend. This has proved to be an incredibly clever way for restaurant owners to maximize staff, storage, space and ingredients in order to sweat out some extra profit. This also provides a much safer ‘Covid-friendly’ prep service and it is a great way for businesses to pivot while the world adjusts.

Subscription Menus

In the quick-service sector, many outlets have turned to a subscription model. This is when customers pay a larger amount upfront, but in return they get bottomless coffees and all-you-can-eat small portable meals supplied across outlets, on an ongoing basis. Kauai has been the first to test this trend with a coffee and smoothie subscription service which can be accessed on their app. This is a nice way for customers to get extra value, and a useful way for a restaurants to ensure return customers and loyalty, due to a the strong value proposition.


Food sustainability

Consumers are increasingly becoming more earth-conscious: Reconsidering what they eat, where products come from and the impact their choices are making on the planet. The re-thinking of these underlying principals are causing restauranteurs to source more sustainably, shop locally and become more transparent with their supply chain. This is also resulting in a trend of more plant-based products, which has also sparked many opportunities in the trade for plant-based, nutritious, healthy meals and product lines.


The past year has really leaned on technology to sustain communication in ways that wouldn’t otherwise be possible. From contactless ordering, to pick-up and delivery services, tech communication just makes sense. It offers an efficient and modern way to ‘eat out’ and is a trend that is going to stick-around long after the virus has left.

Food techNOLOGYOff-premises dining

Curb-side pickup and dine-in services were a life-saver for many during the Pandemic. And while this filled a necessary void during the long months of isolation, it has also exposed a gap in the market. Resulting in grab-and-go product lines, dedicated take-out options and convenient freezer meals. In fact, 66% of customers say they are likely to continue with this purchasing option when all restrictions have eventually lifted.

The bottom line

While times have been tough, people will always need to eat and desire to dine out. So in many ways, these difficult times have also presented a wonderful opportunity for innovative thinkers. Restaurateurs are inherently creative and this has really been proved during the past year where industry experts have been proactive, personalizing the dining experience and responding to their customers changing needs.

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