While restaurant operators are not optimistic about sales growth and the overall economy, a high proportion of them are planning on making new capital expenditures in the coming months, according to the National Restaurant Association. In a recent survey of its members, the association found that 61% plan to buy equipment, undergo an expansion or spend money on remodeling in the next six months. At the association's 88th annual convention in May, several new trends were on display that created tremendous buzz and could drive future spending:
- Eco-friendly restaurant operations that promote recycling and save energy.
- Designer decor, ranging from flatware to uniforms, that showcase both modern or retro chic.
- Payment systems that protect customers' identity and financial security.
- Online reservation and take-out order capabilities.
- Food safety equipment to fight bacteria and the stigma of the past year's food-borne illness scares.
- Alternatives for customers with food allergies or restricted diets.
- Exotic, global flavors from Africa, South America and Southeast Asia, as well as locally grown, farm-fresh ingredients.