The hottest concepts for dining out (and in) in 2017

By Rieva Lesonsky

Last week we talked about the hottest food and beverage trends for 2017 from Andrew Freeman & Co., a hospitality consulting firm. Here’s what they predict for general food concepts.

Food Halls: TrendCast first called out food halls back in 2013, and they’re now exploding across the country. AF&Co says they’re “a vehicle for allowing the guest to craft their own experiences and are also great for the individual operators inside, where low barriers to entry give the flexibility to experiment.”

Vibe Dining: “Restaurants are more about entertainment than ever before,” AF&Co says. “What’s it look and sound like? Who are the people there? Knowing that people come for more than a meal—they come for the feel—restaurants are putting equal effort into environment design as they are into the food and drink menus.”

Cafeterias: There’s been a boom in the fast casual field—specifically, AF&Co says, “cafeteria-style operations are growing in popularity. Offering a wide variety of options to guests—from hot to cold, healthy to indulgent—it’s no surprise this industry keeps growing.” (There are several such eateries within a few miles of my house.)

Throwback Everything: It’s all about the experience, and AF&Co predicts, “We’ll see an increased emphasis on immersive experiences designed to transport the guest into a different place and time.”

In addition, AF&Co notes several business practices restaurants should pay attention to in 2017.

Retaining staff: Labor shortages have made restaurant staffers more valuable, meaning they can demand better compensation and benefits. This reflects a positive shift in the way we are treating each other, says AF&Co, predicting there’ll be “a lot more creative solutions to keeping people happy and healthy.”

Mobile Dining: Diners are eating out more, but spending less time in restaurants, leading to a rise in dining delivery. AF&Co notes this poses “challenges in terms of vehicles and quality control, but more and more operators are seeing this as a revenue stream on its own as well as a marketing tool for getting and keeping the buzz.” They warn, “It’s still gotta be good and it’s still gotta be you—just mobile.”

Creative Commons Packing House Anaheim” by Mike Alcoran is licensed under CC BY 2.0