2021 Restaurant Industry Trends to Track

Mary Albano

January 5, 2021

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Last year was a case study in the unexpected and no one was sad to say farewell to 2020. As we set our collective sights forward, here are the predictions the Trust20 team has made for 2021.

Independent Restaurants will continue to level up.

The independent restaurants who survived 2020 will continue to innovate and forage new paths for success. According to Bloomberg, more than 110,000 restaurants have closed permanently, or long-term, as a direct result of 2020’s events. The restaurants who made it through have maintained superior health and safety solutions and been willing to adapt on the fly. The restaurant operators who are willing to have a plan A - Z and a wry sense of humor are the ones who will continue to elevate the dining experience (one way or another, no matter the circumstances) and lead the hospitality industry forward.

Brand, Restaurant Marketing, and Digital Communication will be more critical to success (and hopefully growth).
In years gone by, restaurants could lean on their diners bringing news guests with them to enjoy a meal together or passersby to wander in. In 2020, restaurants saw tremendous support from their established communities, but were caught playing catch up when it came to spreading the word about their health and safety practices and off-premises dining options. In this aspect, restaurants with a strong brand presence had an easier time weathering the storm simply because they did not have to try to fill this gap along with all the rest. This year we’ll see food and beverage companies heavily invest in package design, direct diner communication, and digital marketing.

Does your restaurant need help communicating your health and safety methods to your diners? Trust20 offers marketing resources to support our certified restaurants. Schedule a FREE Assessment Call with Nick Florek, Trust20 General Manager, to see how we can support you in delivering a safer dining experience.

At Home Dining Experiences and Virtual Cooking Classes are here to stay.

Many folks decided to keep busy in the kitchen while we were all minding our social distancing manners. As a result, agile restaurants saw an opportunity to bring the magic of their dining rooms to their diners’ homes. Elevating takeout to include indulgent prix fixe menus and offering chef-led cooking experiences created a broader and more accessible dining experience for patrons to enjoy.

Green Curry from Thai Fresh in Austin, TX
Photo Courtesy of Thai Fresh

B&B Butchers & Restaurant in Houston, TX has been nailing it by prominently highlighting their Nightly Take-Out Special (currently a Pre-Cooked Steakhouse Dinner if you’re interested). Thai Fresh in Austin, TX has been offering regularly scheduled virtual cooking classes to share the love with their community and teach folks how to make their own Thai food!

2020 taught the restaurant industry that we cannot always expect to be serving our diners on-premise and successful businesses will only expand the types of experiences they offer in 2021 and beyond.

Cleanliness is next to godliness - so doubling down on your disinfecting and sanitation skills and employee training is a must.

We almost thought this should go without saying, but we decided to say it anyway. Government guidance and regulations changed more rapidly than anyone in the hospitality industry could imagine. Restaurant operators faced the enormous hurdle of complying with these measures and making sure their teams did as well. In 2021, it will be imperative for everyone involved in the restaurant industry to understand the differences between Cleaning, Sanitizing, and Disinfecting and how to implement each element in the health and safety process.

Gordon Food Service (GFS) offers a great video to help you understand the differences.


Do you know when kitchen utensils like knives need to be cleaned and sanitized? How often should you disinfect kitchen surfaces? How should you approach food handler training? Trust20 offers a restaurant safety certification course to provide you with the knowledge you need to confidently navigate your health and safety measures. Learn about the Trust20 Restaurant Training Course.


Want to check in with an expert to see how your standards measure up? Schedule a FREE Assessment Call with Nick Florek, Trust20 General Manager, to discuss the best ways a restaurant can deliver a safer dining experience in 2021.


About Trust20
Trust20 is the new standard of restaurant safety and diner comfort, based on 20 tactics by health and safety experts. Supported by Gordon Food Service and General Mills, Trust20 provides an independently verified certification of restaurant practices, training, and other resources to help restaurants create safe, healthy, and welcome spaces for diners. www.trust20.co, @Trust20USA

About Gordon Food Service
Gordon Food Service (GFS) has delivered the excellence, expertise, and quality products customers need to design successful food operations and experiences for over 120 years. GFS grew to become the largest family-operated broadline food distribution company in North America by upholding the same business approach since 1897—being passionately committed to the people they serve.

About B&B Butchers & Restaurant
Located on the emerging East End of Washington Ave in Houston, TX, B&B Butchers & Restaurant marries a traditional butcher shop with a classic upscale steakhouse. At B&B, quality is king and service reigns supreme with a complete bespoke butcher and delicatessen experience featuring some of the finest and thoughtfully sourced products within Texas and beyond.

About Thai Fresh
Thai Fresh is a small, family friendly restaurant focuses on simple, sustainable cooking and living. They serve authentic Thai food using locally sourced ingredients and their bakery offers a wide range of products from traditional to gluten free and vegan baked goods.

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