There’s so much happening in the restaurant industry these days. From robots flipping burgers to AI in the drive thru to units that offer delivery without even opening restaurants, and so the conversation turns.

Here are six predictions from industry professionals on what to expect in 2020 and beyond.

Image credits:Unsplash/Filipe de Rodrigues

Jim Collins, CEO at Kitchen United

Consumer adoption of on-demand cuisine in the location of their choosing continues to accelerate. This evolution has forced brands to adapt and innovate. We are in the early innings and believe we will see continued advances both in the business model and in technology, improving the delivery experience for each key audience—logistics, restaurants and most importantly, the consumer. I expect we’ll see big changes this year as financial markets shift and the businesses surrounding the off-premises market are forced to rationalize, but the consumer is speaking and I have no doubt that business will respond with new and better solutions. 

Image credits:Kitchen United

GJ Hart, CEO at Torchy’s Tacos

In 2020, I think attracting and retaining talent will continue to be a focus. This could be through things like educational benefits or other innovative programs, such as our managing partners program which allows managers to run their own locations. Also, while technology was a big topic in 2019, I think we’ll begin to see restaurants shift to using technology strategically but not at any cost.

Image credits:Torchy’s Tacos

David Cantu, cofounder and chief customer officer, HotSchedules, Now Powered by Fourth

Developments in the restaurant technology space will continue influencing change in 2020. With employers having difficulty hiring and retaining staff as a result of the tight labor market, along with pressure to increase wages, another key focus next year will be finding, keeping, and growing talent. While there are always new solutions being released to help combat issues in the restaurant industry, operators will focus on streamlining technology in 2020 in order to make the lives of managers and their teams more efficient—allowing them to establish a better work environment as well as focus on creating positive guest experiences every single day.  


Andrew Shearer, cofounder and CEO at Farmshelf

Reducing the amount of food waste will continue to trend in 2020. With consumers consciously selecting brands that have established sustainable practices, it’s become incredible important for food service and restaurant operators to implement programs to lessen food waste.

Image credits:Farmshelf

Bruce Dean, CEO, Black Bear Diner

Bringing guests in the door and addressing labor issues will continue to be challenges in 2020, but these challenges will offer restaurants the opportunity for a continued—and relentless—focus on the guest experience and creating rewarding environments for employees. Off-premises and delivery gained a lot of traction in the last year, but hospitality and delicious food are still at the heart of our business. To that end, while technology and automation will play an increasing role in restaurant operations, we’re focusing on back-of-house technologies that make our employees’ jobs easier so they can focus on our guests. 

Image credits:Black Bear Diner

Barry McGowan, CEO, Fogo de Chão

More and more, guests are choosing where to dine based on the experience more than the food. It’s the atmosphere, the buzz and the discovery that creates interest.

Image credits:FOGO DE CHÃO
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