Quick Trends Pushing Restaurants in the Next Decade


Quick Trends Pushing Restaurants in the Next Decade

Life seems to move at an ever-increasing pace that impacts everything from how we work to how we take care of our families. That pace especially impacts the way we eat, with leisurely meals in dine-in restaurants giving way to quick service and fast-casual restaurants to accommodate our hunger, schedules and wallets.

The restaurant industry is recognizing the need to adapt to the changing pace, and recent reports call out a number of trends that we believe could lead to an even closer alliance between restaurants and the shipping container construction industry.

Ghost Kitchens

Food delivery services and online ordering have caused major shifts in the restaurant industry, leading consumers to demand higher quality food for cheaper prices. With this heightened demand and the ongoing labor shortage, the industry is predicting a disruptor in the next decade known as ghost or cloud kitchens — commercial kitchens without dining space that focus only on prepping and delivering food.

Some brands take this approach by leasing commercial kitchen space from existing restaurants. Others take a pop-up approach such as a shipping container kitchen that has online marketing and ordering and walk-up service for food retrieval. An added benefit of shipping container ghost kitchens is the ability to pack up shop and move to another location with relative ease, allowing owners to extend their brand to new cities without major real estate commitments.

Staff Shortages Leading to New Concepts

Many industries have felt the tightening labor markets this year, but perhaps none as much as the restaurant industry. Restaurants in the United States added more than 300,000 jobs in the last year, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, but retaining those employees is an ongoing issue that costs the industry heavily each year. Restaurants continue to look for ways to keep employees engaged in order to provide a valuable customer experience while also keeping operations in the forefront of their mind.

One way the industry has addressed this is with the rise of drive-thru only concepts. This model also addresses issues such as bottlenecked traffic experienced by some chains such as Chick-fil-A. Other ways the industry will deal with labor shortages is to explore technology such as kiosk and mobile ordering and even tapping into the rise of artificial intelligence as a solution. Shipping container units are ideal for drive-thru only concepts, with expedited construction timelines and design flexibility that allows for the latest kitchen technology with a minimal footprint to accommodate more drive-thru lanes.

Faster to Market

Even with labor shortages, the demand for fast food continues to see growth, leading to the establishment of new franchisees across the country. And globally, quick-service restaurants (QSR) are predicted to grow 4.6% by 2022 as emerging nations increase their demand for fast food. While many companies make the process as seamless as possible for new franchisees, challenges still exist.

As new owners make plans in the coming year to enter a market, they may face hurdles with the various levels of approval needed to complete the design and construction of a location. In the future, franchises can address the problem by using shipping containers for new locations, providing a template that can easily be replicated from market to market. Instead of dealing with multiple contractors, shipping container construction usually only requires one contractor to prepare the space.

Differentiation Is Key

Some of the biggest players in QSR — McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Taco Bell — still account for almost 75% of all restaurant traffic. New entries into the market will have to find a strong differentiator in order to survive, including operations know-how and how to harness technology to improve the customer experience. One of the best ways for restaurants to accomplish this is to start smaller: Rather than building a large new restaurant or being tucked away in a strip mall, consider the nimble approach that shipping container construction could provide. With an expedited construction time frame, restaurant owners can concentrate on the other pressing issues needed to make their business a success, including branding and technology that appeals to today’s consumers.

More Variety, Fewer Locations

One of the biggest trends in QSR is the growing demand for food variety and quality for low prices. As restaurants expand their food offerings to meet this demand in the next decade, many chains may scale back or close locations or respond by building smaller locations or different construction concepts. Many QSR chains will realize it may make sense to start from scratch and close underperforming locations in order to give consumers what they are seeking. We see a rise of shipping container constructed restaurants as a future trend to respond to this need, allowing brands to redefine themselves with new construction concepts, greater flexibility and more streamlined experiences.