Restaurant tenants are committing less to long-term leases, using temporary ones to test out new concepts and menus while minimising the risks involved. This means more novelty items for us, and more excitement – we have got to try Thai spot Talad before it disappears! Some pop-ups will take up residency in a pub to try out their ideas. Flat Earth Pizza, for example, is taking up residency at The Plough in Homerton. Until June, you’ll be able to enjoy plant-based pizzas with your pint of beer.
Just last week, we were hit with the mind-boggling news that Warner Bros. will open a Batman-themed restaurant in London. It’s a whole affair, with speakeasies and 360-degree projection mapping. The diner isn’t just enjoying some food, but they’re immersed in the whole Gotham City experience. Narrative-driven immersive restaurants have been popping up all over. There’s one in Copenhagen where diners journey through different experiential settings while indulging in a 50-course tasting menu.
Personalisation is a big trend in the retail industry, and it’s only a matter of time until this spills over into hospitality. Bompas & Parr, the company behind many of the UK’s spectacular culinary events, has predicted that data-driven diets are the diets of the future. While Alexa collects data on conversations about what you prefer to eat, Apple Watch tracks your heart rate after consuming a bowl of ramen. The next time you order from Deliveroo, your phone will know exactly which dish will be good for you to reach those daily recommended levels of vitamin.
Dark kitchens, also called ghost kitchens, do not serve customers in their own four walls. It’s a kitchen only, with no sit-down restaurant but an army of delivery drivers ready to bring the food to you. Sometimes picking up your order is possible too. Starbucks, for example, opened a pick-up location in New York last year. In London, there are many start-ups catering to the demands of Uber Eats and Deliveroo customers. Takeout food is the fastest-growing sector in the UK, so dark kitchens are here to stay.
Fashion and food
Hybrid retail has been gaining traction in the last few years, and it certainly doesn’t exclude the food industry. Just this week Gucci teamed up with three-Michelin-star chef Massimo Bottura to launch a restaurant that reflects the fashion icon’s values of luxury and refinement. At Gucci Osteria Beverly Hills, you’ll find red marble tables, red velvet seating, and Gucci Décor wallpaper. The food fashion collaboration also goes the other way, with brands like Taco Bell and Momofuku producing limited-run apparel.
Pop-ups are great for food entrepreneurs to test and showcase their dishes, but there’s another way that keeps risks low but chances high: food halls. With the possibility of short-term leases and a guaranteed high footfall, food halls are a booming enterprise. For us customers, it’s an easy way to sample foods from all kinds of cuisines and still sit at the same table with our friends. We’ve seen Kerb expanding into Camden Market and Seven Dials, and global brand Eataly will be opening an Italian-focused food hall in the capital sometime this year.
More than ever before in this digitalised age, we care about where our food comes from. How was it produced, through whose hands did it pass, with what love and dedication was the food prepared? We’re curious and we crave the connection. Storytelling has been used as a device to bring across a message and stir emotions since time immemorial. But in the food world, the story often got lost as we focused only on speed and convenience. As we’re seeking to slow down and become more mindful and aware, stories have become important again.
When we think about cutting down meat, we tend to go extreme and commit to a vegetarian or vegan diet. Problem is, we often slip back into eating meat and feelings of guilt take over. A healthier way (mentally), could see us being more flexible. We find dishes that we love that are based on vegetables (making them desirable), and if we find ourselves at a barbecue or enjoying the soup with a meat broth, we won’t kill ourselves over it. Chefs and individuals have caught onto this idea as a concept, and we’ll be hearing more about it as we reconsider our diets and sustainability.
Restaurants thinking about waste and how to reduce it are on the increase. Silo relaunched in London last year with an on-site compost machine that is used for scraps and trimmings. The team also rolls their own oats, churns their own butter, and makes their own almond milk so as to minimise waste and packaging. Nose-to-tail dining is also gaining ground, with chefs highlighting how all parts of food can be turned into something delicious. Aussie chef Josh Niland has released a whole cookbook on that concept alone.
There are exciting developments happening in the food world that can enrich our dining out experiences. Watch out for part 2 of the 2020 food trends for a delve into hot topic foods such as CBD-based dishes and Korean cuisine.