Pumpkin spice lattes were just the beginning. This fall, your guests are craving more complex and healthy flavors. PSLs are here to stay, but variety is the spice of life. Fall in love with these new trends, and your restaurant will stay in bloom no matter how cold it gets.
1. Plant-based Entrees
You’re heard of paleo. You’ve heard of vegans. But have you heard of pegans? This new diet combines paleo eating – which has a focus on whole foods and minimal grains – with veganism, which eliminates all animal products. Pegan eaters fill up on vegetables, and get their protein requirements from nuts and legumes. They also get 25-30% of their calorie intake from healthy fats, like avocados and certain oils. Make sure your restaurant has at least one option that caters to these ultra-healthy customers.
And even for the less extreme dieter, plant-based entrees can be a welcome change. In the fall, most eaters – and most restaurants – are focused on heavy, warming food, to help them prepare for the colder months. Why not switch it up with a plate of friucuterie? These “graze boards” are like charcuterie, but with a focus on fresh fruits and vegetables instead of meat. You may still include a small amount of cheese, if it pairs well with the showcased produce.
2. Cinnamon & Maple
Your guests are pumped about pumpkin – but is it a sin to love cinnamon, too? Cinnamon and maple are classic fall flavors that have taken a backseat during the PSL trend. But they’re coming back. From Dunkin’ Donuts’ maple-pecan flavored coffee to Ben & Jerry’s new cinnamon roll ice cream, larger brands are starting to push these flavors as new seasonal favorites. Like pumpkin, these spices are extremely versatile. Maple is inherently sweet, but it can be used in any meal of the day – from syrup over pancakes to a maple-sugar encrusted dessert. Cinnamon’s popularity has grown recently not only because of its great taste, but also thanks to its health benefits as an anti-inflammatory. Whether you’re serving a cinnamon spice cake or a cinnamon vinegar health drink, you’re sure to impress your guests with this exciting flavor.
3. Global Flavors
25% of consumers would like to see more global flavors at local restaurants. This trend is steadily growing, and it will be bigger than ever this fall. As the most diverse American generation to date, Generation Z is driving the movement toward more diverse flavors. Give your younger diners what they want by tapping into some the most popular international dishes and flavors, like sumac or harissa. Experts agree that Middle Eastern cuisine will be especially sought-after this fall.
They might not be a flavor, but they’re definitely a hot topic. How does your restaurant handle straws? Whether you provide plastic, metal, or compostable straws, or no straws at all, you can bet your guests have an opinion about it. There’s no easy answer for restaurants trying to maintain a profit and still keep up with changing customer expectations. What’s more, there’s a debate going on among your guests about whether plastic straws are really to blame. Whatever options you provide, make sure you stay informed about this ongoing national discussion, so you can make the best decisions for your business.
5. Yerba Mate
This healthy, energy-boosting drink is similar to matcha, or a strongly caffeinated tea. It has no caffeine, but the active ingredient – mate – acts as a stimulant that can help get your workday started. Yerba mate is a great alternative to coffee, especially for guests who are trying to manage anxiety, or any other health problems. Consider serving it as a fall special, to see if your guests enjoy the unique flavor. If it catches on, you may incorporate it into your regular morning menu, or even into some cocktails.
Whatever cuisine you serve, the changing seasons are a perfect opportunity to test out new dishes. Update your menu, snap some pictures, and get on social media. Remind your guests why they enjoy your restaurant in the first place, and invite them to fall in love all over again.