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The top five restaurant trends of 2020

The year is not going to be a gamechanger – assuming that one is used to living in a world where the paradigms are changing constantly and there is an emphasis on the survival of the most resilient.

Owning a restaurant is a harsh and challenging business. Not only does it require a plethora of soft skills to deal with customers and staff every day, but also it is becoming increasingly connected to the digital world. According to the Food for Thought report delivered by Facebook 86% of Millennials (people born between the year 1981 and year 1996) try a new restaurant after seeing food-related content online. Also, for 63% of customers, regardless of their age, discounts and promotions through technological mediums are important factors when making a decision on where to eat.

But in the constantly changing environment of the modern restaurant market it is getting increasingly challenging to spot the right micro-trend to follow. It is obvious that the new technology will play an increasing role in the business, much the same way it does in each and every other aspect of life – from dating to enterprise management.

Changing the tech environment is followed by the transformation of customer experiences and sometimes – their way of thinking. According to the Techincal University of Denmark’s study, the collective attention span is narrowing due to the amount of information that is presented to the public. People these days spend less time focusing on one thing mostly due to the fact that they have a myriad of things to focus on.

To help identify restaurant industry trends of 2020 and to follow any developments in this constantly changing environment, we’ve chosen to highlight the five trends that will impact the restaurant business this year and probably the next,assuming there are no black swans on the horizon.

Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

Digital kiosks and service automation

Long story short, the self-service kiosk is a device that enables a customer to place an order and pay for it. More about the device and things that make it different from a randomly placed iPad with a simple ordering app are available in our “What is a kiosk” blogpost.

Despite being a relatively humble change when compared to the mobile revolution or the explosion of social media, that were defining events for the current generation of millennials, digital kiosks have had a great impact on the restaurant business.

Digital kiosks shorten queues and deliver more detailed information about products. This comes with multiple advantages that helps companies to ride on the crest of the trends shown below. The digital kiosk is undoubtedly one of the most significant restaurant technology trends of 2020 that we identified.

Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash


The world is changing in various ways – not only is the tech revolution speeding up every day, the increasing interest in climate change has seen consumers shift from a “not my problem” attitude toward the environment to a “I show that I care by my purchase decisions” mindset. According to the “Tasting the Future” study the market for plant-based food is predicted to reach $140 bln by 2025. Up to 30% of the current meat market is predicted to shift toward plant-based protein alternatives in the next few decades.

There are multiple reasons behind this trend, from aiming to decrease the environmental impact of meat production to perceived health benefits. According to a study published in Science magazine , over 80% of farmland is used for livestock, but only 18% of food calories and 37% protein are consumed from meat. Also, meat production is responsible for over 57% of water pollution. 56% of air pollution and 33% of freshwater withdrawals.

Considering Greta Thunberg’s activity, incoming generations are becoming ever more straight edge. With that in mind, delivering clear information about the products used to prepare the food is crucial in grabbing the attention of sustainability minded customers. Also, the staff are unable to remember the exact number of ingredients or the production process of every item on the menu.

Thus, a digital kiosk is a tool that delivers clear information every time the customer requires it. In addition, it can provide additional info on the products used, the way they were produced or other sustainability efforts the company is making.

Oh, and you had better get rid of those plastic straws.

Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

Instagram and social media

As mentioned above, 86% of Millennials try a new restaurant after seeing food-related content online. This content is usually either a video or a picture. As  Facebook’s study claims, over 66% of frequent diners agree that seeing friends’ photos and videos on Instagram helps them decide on a fast-food restaurant. Also, % of adults who express an interest on Instagram say they like to see and share content about food and beverages. Thus, this is the most popular theme on the platform. Undoubtedly, this is one of the restaurant business trends of 2020 that cannot be ignored.

The clear message is – there is no success in the fast-food restaurant business without a well presented online presence. Also, customers are looking for images and videos of food to make their decisions and not delivering these is a shortcut toward oblivion.

An online kiosk allows a restaurant to ride this lightning in two different ways.

  • It can be enriched with functionality that shows Instagram streams of photos, delivering a quick-peek of online photos that could have been missed.
  • It can deliver an instant discount for posting an image on Instagram or geotagging in the restaurant, supporting the social media buzz without staff effort.
Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

Increasing impact of dietary diversity

The social shift toward plant-based food is powered not only by environmental issues, regardless of the severity of the situation. According to various reports, today’s children are getting more likely to develop food allergies. Food allergies affect 7% of children in UK and 9% of those in Australia. On the other hand – 2% of adults have some kind of food allergy.

For example, there was a five-fold increase in peanut allergies in the UK between 1995 and 2016.

Again, customers need detailed information about the ingredients not only to build a better world, but also because sometimes it is the matter of life and death. It is a common practice to list the allergens somewhere in the restaurant, but it is not the best user experience one could imagine, to scan the list of allergens while in a queue. On the other hand, the food kiosk can deliver not only a clear list of all allergens and ingredients but also enables the user to apply filters and quickly scroll through the list of safe products or non-allergic meal alternatives.

This saves a lot of time and effort when compared to the traditional way of comparing the menu with the list of allergens waiting inside.

Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

Food delivery marketplaces

Uber Eats is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to online food delivery apps. Revenue in the online ordering segment is predicted to reach $122,739m in 2020. Over a half ($62,798m to be precise) of the segment is powered by the platform-to-consumer model.

This is a clear indicator, that the time when one had to order food by calling a number and then having to pick up at the restaurant is slowly fading. Now the user can see all nearby (and not-so-nearby) restaurants delivered in the convenient form of an online marketplace. This makes the competition even tougher – another pizza or burger is only one click (or a scroll) away. This makes online food marketplaces a restaurant industry technology trend that is hard to ignore.

Using a food ordering kiosk is not restricted to a single restaurant. A shopping mall with a food court packed with fast foods and restaurants can use this device to make ordering easier for customers regardless of the restaurant they choose. The shopping mall gets a percentage of every order after all.

Also, it is possible to put a standalone kiosk outside the shopping mall, for example in the nearby office buildings or factories, where people are waiting to order some lunch. Because – why not?

Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash


The barrier between the digital world and the offline world is fading at a rate previously unseen. People are online nearly constantly, consuming news and reviews. Content is delivered by media vendors, other users and companies that had no earlier connection with content production.

Food is a business that is currently hard to be fully digitized – although it is possible to order the food online, it is impossible to eat it in that way. Also, the restaurant provides all the experience that comes with the order – the music, the service, the general mood and the fact that all the dirty work around food preparation is done by someone else.

At the end of the day, the service and the food is all that matters. In an age of allergies, questions over the sustainability of food production, the dominance of e-commerce and user experiences, a digital signage kiosk is a reliable and modern solution to the multiple problems storming today’s restaurant business. We hope our analysis of 2020 restaurant trends above provide a good and reliable guide for restaurant owners in these difficult times.