Dec 14 2018
Jenn Mar
3 Minutes to read

From robots taking over the kitchen to the rise of the restaurant co-working space, here are the restaurant trends that eaters across America should expect to see in 2019. If you haven’t yet spotted these trends in your neighborhood, they’ll likely land there shortly. Pull out your favorite snack or a beer to enjoy with this list.

1. Food Halls Are America’s Favorite Hubs

Food halls, the cooler version of the food court, are pulling eaters in droves. People go for the fancy butcher shops, bakeries, and local artisan restaurants slinging everything from charred pizza and ramen to craft beer—at reasonable prices. It’s not just die-hard foodies who are magnetized by the choices of food and booze. Food halls have become a hit with hungry weekenders, shoppers, tourists, and power-lunchers, too. So you just might run into your neighbor or coworker there. Why are food halls bustling right now when they used to be regarded as relics? Because of the experience they offer. Think of food halls as playgrounds for shopping, entertainment, dining, and socializing—places that people want to hang out in all day long. For 2019 and beyond we predict that you’ll be seeing this restaurant trend in every little corner of the country.

From robot-chefs to the rise of the restaurant co-working space, here are the restaurant trends that you should expect to see in 2019.

2. People Are Paying to Work from Restaurants 

Ever thought of becoming roomies with your favorite restaurant? You might snicker at this idea, but more restaurants are doubling as stylish weekday workspaces where people can get work done. The telecommuters and freelancers who use those spaces seem to love the idea as restaurants offer an alternative to the vibes of dreary home offices and crowded coffee shops. Some argue that restaurants naturally make great co-working spaces because they are already equipped with plenty of seating and tables.

3. Robot Chefs Are Taking Over Restaurant Kitchens

It may be shocking to hear but robots are the biggest new players in the restaurant industry. As robot technology keeps getting better, restaurants are exploring the outer limits of what robots can do. Turns out robot chefs can do plenty, especially speedy precision work on a grand scale. The smartest robots can sling burritos and pepperoni pies, as well as cut noodles and custom-grind 360 hamburgers every hour on the dot. Some operators are hoping that once robots take over the hard work of the kitchen, their human staff can be deployed for more smiley service. Now that the cost of even the best machines has dropped 40 percent since 2005, you might just see this robot-chef restaurant trend at some of your favorite restaurants come 2019.

Video: Marko Manriquez / Vimeo | 2019 Restaurant Trends: Robot Chefs

4. More Restaurants Are Creating Food with Insta-Fame in Mind

How did a horseshoe-shaped churro turn an obscure brand into America’s new best churro shop? How did $8 pebble ice become the talk of Twitter? Sure, those treats have got it going on. But they also went viral. Today restaurateurs are seeing viral campaigns as a vital weapon to draw business to their restaurants, especially in big cities like San Francisco and New York where competition is intense. Chefs and operators are now working with agencies to manufacture Instagram fame for their dishes. Behind the scenes, marketers, professional Instagrammers, and influencers hired by restaurants work together to mastermind plans to turn dishes into instant hits. Check out these Insta-famous milky buns and mac and cheese burgers.

5. Fast-Casual Dining Has Become Posh

People used to go to fast-casual restaurants for the speedy checkout. Now they are increasingly going there to ogle and savor the food. The fast-casual space is experiencing a renaissance, and in 2019 some of the best (and photogenic) plates will come from the trendy new wave of “fast-fine” restaurants. Serving everything from handcrafted pastas to pan-Asian grain bowls, fast-fine restaurants look a lot like the traditional upscale model. They serve uncompromisingly delicious food made from premium ingredients in dining rooms posh enough to wow a date. But the food is also made quickly and affordable, too.

Learn about the hottest, trendsetting dishes.


Jenn Mar

Written by:

Jenn Mar

Jenn Mar is senior digital editor at ezCater. She's anchored by crusty donuts and tingly “biang biang” noodles.

Posted in: In the IndustryRestaurant

Tagged with: American, Asian, Breakfast, Catering, Dinner, Food Trends, Lunch, Pizza