Archive for December, 2019

6 Ingredients that Will Be on Every Menu in 2020

The year is drawing to a close. That means it’s prediction time! What will be the must-have menu ingredients in the first year of the new decade? 

Some trends from 2019 are still riding their wave (hello, CBD!). But there are some food items that are going to have their own moment in the coming year.

One consistent theme in 2020? Health and sustainability. Next year’s trends are big on reducing the ecological impact of the food and restaurant industry, while also providing maximum nutritional benefit to the consumer. 

Read on for the ingredients that you’re about to see everywhere in the new year!

1. Plants, plants, plants

With people more concerned than ever about the environment, health, and animal rights, plant-based diets are a natural outcome. 

2019 brought us the rise of meat substitutes like the Impossible Burger and Beyond Meat. These ingredients have shown many restaurateurs that there’s a big market for meat-free dishes. Those alternatives will continue to be popular, with fast-food chains like Burger King hopping on the bandwagon with their Impossible Whopper. 

But 2020 will bring a new focus on hearty, healthy veggies, instead of just meat substitutes. People want to eat real, nourishing food. So it’s time for veggies to be the star of the show. And remember, many of these diners aren’t full-time vegans. They’re Flexitarians who are trying to limit their intake of animal products. 

How you can stay on-trend? Make sure your plant-based offerings aren’t an afterthought. Don’t just sub out the chicken for some tofu. Instead, source high-quality produce that can be the star of the show. Provide a few well-thought-out vegan entrees to earn a reputation as a place where all diets are welcome.

2. Wild mushrooms

Wild mushrooms have a little mystery that restaurant-goers find irresistible. They have to be found and foraged, instead of grown. And the expertise required to identify the safe species from the poisonous is literally a matter of life and death. 

These adaptable fungi will be found in entrees, appetizers, and even some drinks in the coming year. Their meatiness makes them a great substitute for animal protein. And their glutamate levels add richness and umami without increased sodium. 

Chanterelle, trumpet, Lion’s Mane, reishi, and maitake mushrooms are just some of the species that we’ll be seeing on menus in 2020. 

3. Alternative Greens

It’s time to switch up our salads. There are fresh, interesting greens coming to a restaurant menu near you. Consumers are ready to ditch the romaine and iceberg in favor of leafy alternatives. With recent concerns about the safety of these overdone lettuces all over the news, the shift is a timely one. 

One of these interesting greens is celtuce. While it sounds like a hybrid of lettuce and celery, it’s actually a naturally occurring veggie, native to China. The leaves and stem are both edible, with a slightly nutty flavor. The stem can retain its crunch, even after cooking. It makes a great substitute for celery or cucumbers. 

Another great option is Little Gem. This small lettuce tastes like a cross between romaine and butter lettuce. It has thick, juicy leaves that are more substantial than romaine. It’s perfect for salads or sandwiches. 

Also, keep an eye out for kale sprouts. This kale/brussel sprouts hybrid make a great side dish when sauteed with garlic and oil. 

4. Sustainable Seafood

Sustainable seafood has been a hot button issue for quite a while. Concerns about overfishing and bycatch have increased interest in sustainable fishing practices and species. 

Sustainability can include both farming and fishing methods. People have traditionally been wary of farmed fish. The process can contaminate surrounding waterways. Plus, fish can escape their pens, causing damage to the food chain and ecosystem. But there are reputable fish farms out there focused on production in an eco-friendly way. For example, recirculating tanks re-use water and prevent pollution and escape. 

Wild fishing methods have varying degrees of sustainability. Dredges and large nets can damage the seafloor environment and catch other species on accident. But longlines and trolling lines catch fish individually, reducing the number of unwanted species that get caught and allowing for their release. 

Expect to see an increase in smaller seafood species like turbot, uni, and abalone in the coming year. These smaller species take less time to reach maturity, meaning it’s easier to fish them in a sustainable way. They can also be better for consumers. By eating lower on the food chain, you reduce the amount of harmful mercury that you’d get in a larger species like tuna. 

Consumers are aware of the fragility of the oceans and want to feel like they’re contributing to the solution, rather than the problem. So an increase in sustainable species and cultivation methods will be a draw in 2020. 

For more information about sustainable seafood, visit Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch. This website is a wonderful resource for fish types and catching methods that help restaurants and consumers to make eco-friendly choices.

5. Functional Beverages

It’s not enough for drinks to taste good. We want them to work for us, too. Drinks with a purpose will be all the rage in 2020. Kombucha and other fermented drinks are said to promote a healthy gut biome. Turmeric lattes may be able to help reduce inflammation. Collagen powder added to coffee or smoothies may improve the health of hair, skin, and nails. 

Moon milk is also gaining popularity. This drink contains delicious spices like cinnamon, turmeric, cardamom, and nutmeg. But it’s the ashwagandha — a member of the nightshade family — that is said to help with everything from arthritis to anxiety. 

Spirulina, CBD, chlorophyll, bee pollen — all of these health aides will see a spike on restaurant menus in the coming year. The actual efficacy of these ingredients is still up for debate in scientific circles. But as far as customers are concerned, the possible benefits of these functional beverages are worth the extra cost. 

6. Low- and No-ABV Drinks

Technically this is an ingredient that will be missing from menus in 2020. And that ingredient is alcohol.

Many people are noticing a shift in the way people think about a night out. Rather than using any restaurant meal as an excuse to imbibe, many people are focusing more on the social aspect of their meal and avoiding the alcohol altogether. This “sober curious” movement has encouraged customers to try not reaching for that glass of wine every time they get together with their friends.

The result has been an increase in low ABV cocktails and mocktails on drink menus. These drinks still feature premium ingredients like fruit purees and herbs. They can still feel indulgent without the alcohol. 

There’s even a non-alcoholic spirit on the market called Seedlip. The varieties of this distilled non-liquor have herbal, citrus, and floral notes to mimic some of the most popular spirits normally used in cocktails. They add depth of flavor without the common impaired judgment of alcohol. 

Happy New Year!

Get in on next year’s trends by looking for interesting and sustainable alternatives to some of your current ingredients. Can you swap out hand caught yellowfin tuna for its overfished bluefin cousin? Source some Little Gem lettuce to replace that boring romaine? Replace a meat-focused entree with some cleverly cooked veggies?

Food trends for 2020 are all about doing good — good for your body and good for the planet. It’s amazing how often those two things coincide.

A Year in Review – 12 Restaurant Furniture Trends from 2019

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Just like in residential design, restaurant design sees dramatic changes in trends from year to year. While 2018 was a year of minimalism and Scandi-modern aesthetics, 2019 was all about warmth and coziness. These spaces encouraged people to settle in and stay awhile with their loved ones. It’s about maximizing the real-life experience — in an Instagram-worthy way. 

With that in mind, we’re looking back at the biggest restaurant furniture trends from 2019 to see what changed and what stayed the same.

1. Upholstered everything

While upholstered furniture may be a bit harder to keep clean than solid surfaces, it’s been having a moment in 2019. Fabric creates a cozier, warmer atmosphere, encouraging guests to sit back and indulge. 

Upholstery has been added to chairs, bar stools, and restaurant booths. Drapes and wall-hangings also saw an increase over the past year. These textiles made restaurant interiors feel more snug and high-end. And as an added bonus, all this extra fabric has helped with sound dampening, limiting echos and dining room noise.

2. Flexible seating

Modern restaurants often like to keep their options open. They want to be available for private parties, large-scale events, and possible changes in service style. That can be difficult to do when your restaurant seating is all un-movable booths.

In 2019, flexible seating options were on the rise. Combinations of standard and high-top tables, banquette seating, and communal tables let restaurant spaces function in many different ways. And portable tables and chairs mean the furniture can be rearranged as necessary.

3. Reclaimed wood

Reclaimed wood has been popular through most of the teens, and 2019 was no exception. This warm, organic material is as popular as ever. It’s eco-friendly and creates a rustic, one-of-a-kind furniture piece. It’s also strong and sturdy, able to stand up to years of use and abuse.

What was new in 2019 was the way reclaimed wood was incorporated into overall restaurant design. Instead of an uber-industrial space full of reclaimed wood, brick, and metal fixtures, fresh modern spaces were warmed up with this lovely material. 

4. Communal dining

The modern communal dining trend started as a reaction to the current societal dependence on our devices. Restaurants wanted to encourage people to have more conversations and spend less time on their phones.

The trend was still strong in 2019. Communal dining tables create a social atmosphere in your restaurant and fit more people into less space. Some restaurants choose to seat multiple small parties at their large tables. Others reserve their largest tables for large parties, so they can be sat together.

5. Deep, rich colors

A byproduct of the minimalist and Scandinavian-modern trends of previous years was a focus on white and other light colors. But in 2019, rich, warm colors made a comeback. Deep blues, greens, and reds made dining rooms feel snug and intimate. Plus, they made a great backdrop for the inevitable Instagram photos.

This trend appeared in seating upholstery, painted furniture, wallpaper, and window treatments. But these rich colors didn’t necessarily mean dark spaces. Saturated hues were combined with big windows and lots of indoor plants to keep things airy instead of oppressive.

6. Dark wood

Keeping with the reclaimed wood and rich color trends, dark wood was big in 2019. Walnut was particularly popular, with its natural variations in color. It’s a versatile material, able to fit in with other wood species and a variety of metal finishes. 

To stay modern, dark wood was often paired with bright colors and patterns for an unexpected contrast. 

7. Sustainability

Sustainability and eco-friendliness in both restaurant decor and operations is still going strong. This is hopefully less of a trend and more of a shift in mindset that will last for years to come.  

Furniture made of reclaimed and recycled materials is more popular than ever. Warm, eco-friendly woods like bamboo that grow quickly and produce very little waste are popular choices for restaurant furniture. Other choices include rattan and wicker. And for man-made products, restaurants are using furniture made from recycled materials. Poly lumber furniture, for example, is made of primarily recycled material.

This shift is being felt outside of furniture as well. LED lighting, composting programs, and waste reduction are all becoming standard at restaurants across the country.

8. Smaller furniture

With the meteoric rise in popularity of takeout and delivery services, restaurants have begun to shrink in size. It’s no longer about fitting as many customers into the dining room as possible. Instead, it’s about how many overall customers you can reach, both in-store and at home. 

This means that dining rooms are getting smaller. But it also means smaller furniture has been necessary in order to fit as many people as possible into a tighter footprint. 

Now, smaller tables are only possible in restaurants that are giving up the small plate trend. Five or six dishes won’t fit on a tiny table. Opinions are mixed as to whether small plates are played out or here to stay. But for the restaurants that stick with them, they have to keep tables of a decent size — or risk dropped plates and upset customers.

For space-saving seating, banquettes also saw a boost in popularity. These fixed, one-sided booths take up less space than chairs that need space to move in and out from the table.

9. Round booths

Related to both the upholstery and rich color trends, round booth seating had a moment in 2019. These booths were often covered in a rich fabric, like an emerald green or navy blue. They had low backs to provide a semi-private enclosure for the dinner party, while still letting customers see and be seen. 

This is a classic booth style, harkening back to restaurants of the 1930s and 1940s. While mid-century modern is still popular, the decades on either side (1930s, 40s, 70s, and 80s) also caught on in 2019.

10. Restaurant living rooms

Restaurant owners understand that not everyone who comes in wants to sit at a table for a formal meal. Some would like to gather around a high-top with friends, while others may like to lounge on a sofa sipping a cocktail. The key is to make your restaurant multi-use. Provide a variety of experiences, instead of just one.

Restaurant living rooms were on the rise in 2019, with more space reserved for couches and lounge furniture. Encouraging guests to settle in and linger over drinks makes them feel welcome. It’s all part of that coziness trend that was a major part of 2019.

11. Mixed styles

Eclectic was big in 2019. It wasn’t necessary (or cool) to have everything be too “matchy-matchy.” 

Instead, restaurant designers combined plush banquettes with modern chairs. Or they put 1960s-style lucite bar stools up against a traditional dark wood bar. Sleek modern tables were placed between rustic wood booths. Some chose to keep the style cohesive but attracted the eye with a mix of different vibrant colors.

Mixing furniture and decor styles created visual interest and unusual spaces. And it’s all about being unique. 

12. Multi-use pieces

With restaurant sizes shrinking, furniture pieces have to do double-duty. A bench isn’t just a bench — it’s a storage unit. That side table isn’t just to display flowers — it doubles as a part of the buffet for special events. The modular outdoor couches on the patio can be rearranged depending on the size of the event.

Even server stations and the host stand can serve multiple purposes. With more and more restaurants abandoning the stationary POS system for handheld devices, server stations are no longer restricted from movement. 

Conclusion

As the restaurant business changes, spaces have to evolve with them. Modern updates like an increased focus on technology and reliance on takeout and delivery are changing the purpose of some traditional restaurant spaces — and therefore the way they are designed. 

At East Coast Chair & Barstool, we can help you stay on-trend with our wide variety of restaurant furniture solutions. We stock Amish-built tables made from beautiful reclaimed barn wood, large communal tables for parties of every size, comfy lounge furniture, and more!

We’re looking forward to seeing what the big trends are for 2020!