What is in this article?:
- What's ahead for the restaurant industry in 2013
- Menu, technology and finance
NRN editors take a look at menu, marketing, finance, technology and other trends expected for the restaurant industry in 2013.
Menu, technology and finance
Lisa Jennings, West Coast bureau chief
Interesting dishes: With beef and other corn-related items expected to rise in price, we’ll see chefs and research-and-development folks get creative with more off-the-beaten path ingredients. Rotisserie octopus anyone?
Menu pricing pressure: We saw the pricing dance in 2012 and it will continue next year. Restaurant operators will feel the need to raise menu prices to address high commodity and oncoming health care costs, but they will hold off as long as possible to let their competitors tweak pricing first to see how consumers respond.
Teatime expands: Starbucks will continue to teach the tea-loving Chinese to drink coffee. At the same time, coffee-loving Americans will return to their roots of drinking tea in all forms — hot and cold, in blended drinks and cocktails — giving the Tea Party an all new, and happily non-political, meaning.
Alan J. Liddle, managing editor, special projects
Tablet tech proliferates: More independent and small-group operators will try point-of-sale-system software for iPads and other tablet computers as larger chains explore tablet use for line busting, training, inventory control, interactive wine lists, and wait-list management. Full-service establishments increasingly will use tablets for handheld POS terminals and on tabletops for self-order and pay, entertainment or surveys, among other functions.
Fine-tuned footprints: The movement to engage “green”-minded diners and reduce operating costs through the thoughtful use of renewable resources, recycled or salvaged building materials and energy- and water-efficient restaurant designs and equipment will accelerate.
Sarah E. Lockyer, executive online editor
Healthy M&A: Deal making will continue to be robust, as in 2012 when the industry saw about 10 major deals close and an additional six announced. Look for strong multiples for larger deals, like the 10x EBITDA Starbucks paid for Teavana or the 10.5x EBITDA Joh. A. Benckiser paid for Caribou Coffee. Private equity is still interested in restaurants, and “fresh powder” is still available.
The strong get stronger: Most securities analysts pick the strongest restaurant stocks to continue to gain momentum in 2013, including Starbucks, Bloomin’ Brands, Panera and Buffalo Wild Wings. Healthy operating margins, menu price elasticity and consumer appeal are driving these businesses and their stocks. Chipotle is set to surge in 2013 after a tough 2012, when its stock fell 15 percent through Dec. 27. The company posts some of the best numbers in the business and is a long-term bet by many on Wall Street.
Ron Ruggless, Southwest bureau chief
Abroad-minded: U.S.-based restaurant concepts will increasingly look to expand their brands into emerging global markets. Looking beyond the Brazil-Russia-India-China BRIC nations, they will be eyeing the gorillas in the MIST: Mexico, Indonesia, South Korea and .
Smile and say cheese: Because it offers a simple, safe and easy-to-store way to gain that patina of “locavore,” more restaurant outlets — even chains — will rely on locally sourced cheeses and start offering cheese-board style selections.
Brewing up local offerings: More regions are gaining local craft breweries and distilleries, and restaurant operators will be tapping them to distinguish their profitable beverage offerings. In a September report, Technomic said craft beer grew 11.2 percent in volume to account for 5.5 percent of total U.S. beer volume. Consumers are showing increased interest in artisan and local products, the research firm noted. In addition, the number of craft brewers and microbreweries increased by nearly 200 facilities in the year prior to September.