Seeing as we are in the last few months of 2022, it’s a good time to start noticing trends that have become popular that will most likely follow us into 2023. If you are a restaurant owner, you may still be recovering from the effects that the COVID-19 pandemic had on the industry as a whole. In order to keep your restaurant relevant and thriving, it can be beneficial to analyze the top restaurants of 2022 and see what patterns they all share.

This sounds like a very time-consuming process (it definitely is), which is why I took the liberty of doing it for you! Keep reading if you want to learn some of the most popular restaurant trends of 2022.

Your Italian grandma’s special occasion dinnerware  

You may not even realize this, but customers at your restaurant may be inspecting your dinnerware, wanting to replicate it in their home as well. It can be almost impossible to find out where a certain glass is from or maybe a certain plate- or if you’re lucky, it will be from Ikea. A style of plate that has become very popular and very hard to replicate is referred to as the “grandma plate.”

These plates and bowls usually feature a subtle floral pattern or border that brings a sense of uniqueness to the dinner table. These plates can add a sense of warmth and comfort to the restaurant that was previously lacking. For some people, these plates not only come with delicious food, but a feeling of nostalgia as well. Imagine going to your favorite Italian restaurant and being served your late grandma’s favorite pasta dish on a China plate that reminds you of the plates she had at her home. Now that’s a great meal.

To tip or not to tip: there’s no question about it

In America especially, we have been debating the practice of tipping for a very long time. In many countries, tipping is not mainstream because service staff are well-paid, unlike in America where servers are paid under minimum wage, as it is expected they will make the rest in tip money. During the COVID-19 pandemic, many consumers had to face the music when it came to tipping, not being able to ignore the very real skill and labor that goes into working at a restaurant.

Some restaurants are even taking it upon themselves to ensure that their service staff makes a decent living wage by putting mandatory fees on their menus. For example, the LA-based restaurant Lasita has added a 3.5% to the bill in order to support benefits for full-time staff and has also added a 10% fee to all take-out orders that are given directly to the kitchen staff.

No more fish filets- we want the whole fish!

While eating the whole fish is already common in certain cuisines, many American restaurants have been hesitant to offer the entire fish, head and all. In 2022, we have seen an increase in serving the entirety of the fish instead of just serving a fish filet. If you order this, get ready for a flavor explosion in your mouth- but be careful with the bones!

QR codes are now mainstream

When QR codes first started gaining traction, a lot of people were not fans of them. People are often stuck in their ways and don’t particularly like change, which includes replacing physical menus with virtual versions. With the fear created by the COVID-19 pandemic, people started embracing the idea of QR codes as they were terrified to touch a menu that hundreds of other people also touched.

Now, people are starting to have a newfound appreciation for QR codes- especially for people who have trouble with making decisions. For me, I always have trouble deciding on an entrée, usually picking something random by the time the waiter gets back to me as I’m already feeling anxious about him having to skip over me the first time. With QR code menus, I can start scanning the menu right when I sit down, giving me more time to make a decision before the waiter comes to take our orders.

Communal punch bowls are making a comeback

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the thought of sharing a drink with multiple people was unheard of and honestly, quite a terrifying thought. With everyone getting back into their normal pre-coronavirus routines, they are slowly becoming more open to shareable menu items. Many restaurants are now offering spiked punch bowls made to share between friends, and I couldn’t be happier with this news. What’s better than sharing a margarita pitcher with your friends? Sharing a margarita punch bowl with your friends. Remember, drink responsibly (or don’t- YOLO)!

Nostalgic food is all the rage

In current times, society is more stressed than ever before- whether it’s due to politics, the economy, or the fact that our home is being destroyed by global warming, we are all feeling a bit more anxious than we did pre-pandemic. Studies have shown that the feeling of nostalgia actually helps reduce stress by increasing brain activity in areas responsible for reward processing and emotional regulation.

A great way to tap into nostalgia is through your taste buds and many restaurants are capitalizing on this phenomenon. Whether it’s a classic hamburger or a gooey grilled cheese, these types of foods tend to bring us feelings of comfort and happiness.

Offering only one dessert

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the general population is more stressed than ever before. Studies show that stress alters the decision-making process as stress causes mental resources to dissipate. Even something as simple as choosing a dessert off a menu can produce anxiety. Many restaurants are starting to switch over to one-dessert menus, which eliminates the need to make a decision (let’s be real, choosing between a hot fudge sundae and a molten lava cake can be pretty difficult). While the reason for the limited dessert menu is most likely due to other external factors and not the increasing stress in society, it definitely does help.

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