Hospitality Business Magazine

2024 – Welcome Newstalgia!

Trendy Comebacks – Dive Into The Recipe Archives.

In this era of “newstalgia,” everything old is new again. Remember when everything was being turned into an in-house pickle over a decade ago?

Now pickles are the “it” ingredient again. Do you miss the cocktails you enjoyed in the ’90s? They’re all making a comeback, with espresso martinis becoming one of the fastest growing menu items in the last 12 months.

Do you recall the “mini dessert” craze that took over menus? Now “mixed dessert” plates are growing on menus again at midscale restaurants.

As Millennials, Gen X, and Boomers longingly look back to a rose-coloured past amid continued inflation worries, Gen Z is experiencing some of these trends for the first time, so brands should dive back into the archives for winning ideas.

That includes foods, dishes, and ingredients that consumers miss, but also decor (consumers continue to seek out old-fashioned Pizza Hut restaurants with a view to rejuvenation) and advertising or marketing campaigns (welcome back, McDonald’s Kiwi Lamb Burgers). If you have a concept that resonates with nostalgic consumers, challenge yourself to find a way to bring it back in 2024.

TikTok Friendly and Innovative

As consumers gravitated toward Mexican and Asian cuisines, many European cuisines were stagnating. But that’s always a starting point for innovation, and now a new generation of chefs are rethinking what these classic cuisines can be.

Look across the country and you’ll find new Italian restaurants with bolder, spicier, often TikTok friendly dishes on the menu; French spots that combine both light and indulgent dishes, new takes on classic desserts and pastries, and a less stuffy view of fine dining; Greek concepts that feature a fun, party-like atmosphere alongside serious seafood that highlights the Mediterranean; and mashup restaurants that combine English and Indian flavours in crowd-pleasing pub fare.

As Kiwi consumers head to the U.K., Italy, France, and Spain on long delayed post-COVID vacations, expect them to return with a taste for the fresh ideas and ingredients they are finding abroad — think crispy English potatoes, unique Italian pastas and cheeses, high-end Spanish tapas and meats, and much more.

The Changing Back Of House

There’s no shortage of new-fangled equipment and technology available for the back-of-house today, but operators want to know that those big capital purchases will be worth it. They don’t want to take a chance on a new piece of equipment that will be obsolete in just a few years. As we head into 2024, there are a few safe bets. As operators still feel the economic crunch, they want to see a clear ROI on equipment investments.

Simple robotics that save on labour, often from trusted suppliers, will be key (less robot servers and more robot drink fillers). Operators want to future-proof their kitchens, whether that means purchasing electric and induction options in the face of older equipment maintenance costs, or ensuring the back-of-house can pivot to accommodate changing demands for catering, pickup and delivery.

Options like ventless hoods and smaller/multifunctional equipment allow operators to open in a range of non-traditional locations. Look for a new generation of combi ovens and speed ovens to continue finding their place in today’s kitchens (traditionally more operators are interested in purchasing these options than any other piece of equipment).

Freshness, great taste, and cleanliness are table stakes today and back-of-house equipment must support those need states, whether it’s Subway rolling out deli slicers or tech-enabled buffets and salad bars that promote food safety.

Food For Thought -Top Tips From Diners for 2024

“Food quality and service aside, I would really like for brands and companies to pay their employees a fair and liveable wage.” Tristan

“I want to see prices reduced. I realise that prices had to be increased at the height of inflation. However, they are rarely reduced when inflation is normalised.” Linda

“I would like to see healthier food options and lower prices for food in the coming year.  I would like to see more foods with lower fat, sodium, sugar, and cholesterol and that are higher in antioxidants and essential amino acids.” Craig

“Start treating people nicer; in other words, no more bad customer service. I have been to a few restaurants where they seat you and you don’t see a waiter for almost 10 minutes. It’s not good for business.” Claire

“Make sure, before sending food out the drive-up window or for delivery, that the food order is correct and that it’s prepared without being soggy, burnt and dry, or that simply no one cared.”  Peter

“We like to eat out at restaurants that offer good food and friendly service at a reasonable price. It doesn’t matter what cuisine it is, just do what is right and people will respond. We have. “Kaye

“Please be specific when listing ingredients. I hate it when the menu just says ‘spices.’ I’m allergic to black pepper and garlic so I really need to know what’s in there.” Natalie

“Just please provide more good quality food at an affordable price. Ditch the lab-grown, chemical-stuffed items and provide real food.” Chelsea

“Keep the packaging sizes the same.  Stop making packages smaller. I often have to purchase multiple quantities of a product instead of one.” Matt.

Additional information: Datassential