3 Restaurant Trends for 2022 You Should Bring To Your Senior Dining Operation

January 4, 2022

We recently read an article from Food & Wine Magazine that discussed 25 restaurant trends that are coming in 2022. While some of these will not be seen anytime soon in senior living dining rooms soon (We see you potato milk), there are always a few that make sense to see/expect to make the translation. Here we look at three from their list and how our industry can make those translate into senior living food & beverage operations.

Restaurant Trend #1: Operators will diversify their business model

Restaurateurs are looking to diversify their offerings in order to shore up their bottom line. Senior living operators can and should do the same things to increase both marketability and revenues from residents, guests and yes, even their employees.

Hybrid models with retail offerings such as grab & go and basic grocery items create convenience and diversity. If every resident, guest, and employee spent $5 - $10 per week more because of these offerings, that revenue will add up fast. And this isn't just for independent living. Assisted living and memory care neighborhoods can create these offerings and bring more of a sense of "everyday living" to the lives of these residents.

Another potential offering is ghost kitchens. We have kitchens that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to build and maintain that sit idle for stretches at a time. Why not find a ghost kitchen partner that would work with you around your meal service schedule to execute their offerings? Meal delivery services are booming and likely not going away, and these operators are not only creating concepts that are turnkey, but are handling most of the logistics of managing them. A partnership like this could maximize the revenue generation of a huge capital asset, and maybe even attract the kind of cooks and kitchen staff our industry really needs.

Restaurant Trend #2: Comfort food is sticking around

Many restaurants during the pandemic saw a shift in the consumer towards comfort foods. Chef Jasmine Norton, executive chef and owner of The Urban Oyster in Baltimore notes in the article:

"This is not a trend; comfort food has always been woven into the taste buds of America. [Last year] we were all at home, making our own recipes and dining experiences right at our dining room tables. Because of this, we bonded with food in a way that we hadn't before.

Here us out. We know that comfort foods are not new to senior living menus. But the development of high-end recipes with unique execution and amazing plate presentations are an area of opportunity for operators. Chefs that will find either local ingredients or introduce unique flavor profiles to re-invent classics can have your dining rooms a buzz. As we continue to re-open our communities to visitors, these offerings will be embraced by families that haven’t visited in a while. And this will be great for our residents socially–and our bottom lines financially.

Restaurant Trend #3: Alcohol-free cocktails will keep booming

A glass of wine or an old fashion at meal time or right after are an experience and lifestyle choice that many residents enjoyed before moving in, but now may not be able to per doctor’s orders. The creation of signature drinks that are sophisticated will allow you to increase your offerings across the board and make happy hours exciting for all residents. Executive Chef Fernando Soberanis of Laurel Brasserie & Bar in Salt Lake City mentioned in the article, "We are anticipating a larger demand and have seen an increased interest in zero-proof or alcohol-free cocktails. These new drinks are no longer simply a mix of fruit juices but feature an elevated eye appeal with fresh, seasonal ingredients."

One way to accomplish this is to add zero alcohol spirits to your inventory. One provider of these is Monday, which currently offers a whiskey and a gin. They want to offer the sophistication of a cocktail, without the negative effects.

Senior living F&B Directors and Executive Chefs would be wise to jump on this trend as they can create unique food & drink pairings that every resident can enjoy. It is also another opportunity to add a revenue stream, as these can be enjoyed by guests without the added risk of offering typical cocktail offerings.

Let us know how the team at Trestle Hospitality Concepts can help your senior living food & beverage teams set your table for success by implementing ideas like these and more.