8 Innovative Restaurant Menu Ideas to Prevail Beyond 2021 (A Post COVID Brief)

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If you happen to be part of a food business startup with a panache for nerding over restaurant menu ideas, this post is for you.

How so?

For starters, we contemplated the success factor behind previous years’ restaurant menu ideas and analyzed the modern-day post COVID situation that begs to call for innovation in almost every aspect of the food industry.

Part of the reason for doing so was also inspired by the idea that we wanted to look at the modern intake on restaurant menu ideas without repeating mistakes that are often overlooked easily.

And by that, we are also sticking a fat finger towards those web platforms that have dated content with seemingly nothing interesting about restaurant menu ideas. It’s the same old content; just written with a twist to help those site owners bag in some DA, unsuspecting organic visitors, and vice versa.

The point is, there’s something new to learn – and it is high time that you delve right into what kind of restaurant menu ideas & tips work, and which ones don’t. So, if you are looking to have a pamphlet with 10 tacky ideas on dated restaurant food ideas that are a sure miss, in the long run, you can browse through some other website.

On the contrary, if you are looking for some juicy stats blended with a fresh intake on modern-day restaurant menu ideas for the growth of alternate restaurant formats, then pull your socks up.

This post is definitely for you because there’s a lot more to chew by the end of it.

Blink is your #1 Online Ordering Platform for Restaurants

Why Dated Restaurant Menu Ideas are No Longer Effective/ Relevant Anymore?

To adopt a better approach towards restaurant menu ideas for your food business, we need to do a ‘before and after’ retrospective. For instance, according to Simon Kutcher & Partners, a marketing consultancy services platform, there was a seismic deviation in food ordering trends last year in May.

This happened because people were ordering ready-to-eat delicacies that didn’t take a long time for restaurants to prepare. Also, this trend, replaced the wait in dine-in queue scenario, where many restaurants started the course with entrée options and so on and so forth.

Pre COVID, almost 67% of the meals were prepared at home.

The remainder of the percentage leaned towards customers’ ability to dine outside at their favorite restaurants. Meanwhile, restaurants menu ideas typically consisted of different food options ranging over the appended sections:

  • Vegan Dishes
  • Seafoods
  • Sober and Alcoholic Beverages
  • Fermented Food served with Cooked Delicacies
  • Charcoal Smoked BBQ Options
  • An Assortment of Desserts and Confectionaries for People with a Sweet Tooth

These aforementioned categories lined up a traditional restaurant menu where customers had the liberty of ordering anything they wanted. The interesting thing is that these items are still very relevant to the latest menus, but they are re-introduced with a twist. We’ll get to that bit later.

For now, let’s see what the survey experts have to say about restaurant menu ideas and predictions in 2021 and beyond…

According to Simon Kucher & Partners, following May 2020, the next 12 months oversaw a slide in the aforementioned restaurant menu ideas that called for something new and different to be added to the table.

Increased Percentage of People Going for Restaurant Menu Ideas on Food Ordering Apps

Restaurant Menu Ideas

SEC Filings’ & Market Watch’s recent survey suggests that people have become comparatively more reliant on sifting through restaurant menu options through different food ordering apps. The trend gained traction in late 2019 and all the way up to 2020 and beyond.

Prior to that, it was the usual walk-in dining experience laced with your favorite go-to restaurant menu ideas to choose from, as a customer.

Now, the important question is, if you are a self-reliant food business owner, or someone who’s looking to dabble in the restaurant startup industry, what kind of restaurant menu ideas will work for you?

To have a proper idea and direction of the latest ongoing food menus, we need to understand restaurant menus that were going hot in 2019 and earlier. To that effect, you should also know that today’s restaurant menus, whether they are available on a food ordering app, or in a nearby establishment, are slightly different than what they used to be like before the COVID-19 pandemic situation.

That being said, if you have a fair understanding of dated menu ideas, you are less likely to repeat those “mistakes” and waste time in an effort to identify which restaurant menu options you should be going for in the first place.

8 New Restaurant Menu Ideas For Self Starters, Operators, and Food Businesses in 2021

In continuation with the discussion above, we’d like to answer the big why here.

The new normal, in not only the food industry but everywhere else, has called for rapid changes. There is a very real possibility for your restaurant menu to be different in a few months than what the state it is currently at.

Going forward, the following restaurant food menus will be applicable towards scaling your business from a customer growth perspective. Also, these menu ideas are a revamped version of what 2019 restaurant menus used to look like, likely before and after the pandemic situation.

Vegan Food Options:

Restaurant Menu Ideas | Vegan

Food consumers are reportedly turning towards an assortment of vegan dishes. This trend is attributed to an overall health consciousness at a bigger level, since gyms and public areas are either closed right now, or they have limited the number of people walking in due to healthcare concerns.

Regardless, restaurant menu ideas with a dash of veggie options are on the rise. The interesting thing is that there are zero signs of regression – not only because customers are alarmingly concerned about obesity-related diseases, but they also like to add a nutrition-rich diet to their online food orders.

By not adding vegetable-based dishes to your restaurant menu ideas, you are looking to isolate yourself from catering to a growing number of customers who are thoughtful of what they eat. In that sense, showcasing side entrees and special dishes with vegan-friendly options is more than likely to retain a fair chunk of repeat food orders that’ll continue to scale up as your business gains traction over time.

Tinned Fish and Special Seafood:

Tinned Fish and Special Seafood | Restaurant Menu Ideas

Don’t forget to add a steady combination of tinned seafood and freshly cooked seafood to your orders. Whether you are preparing a meal for takeaways, or a barrage of customers coming in via different food ordering apps, these menu options are always a delight to serve.

The key is to prepare your tinned fish in combination with freshly prepared meals so that customers are teased with the appeal factor. This menu item also indicates that food lovers from the U.S. and other countries are starting to realize the benefits of consuming fish, in general. The nutritional value of seafood is more as compared to meat because of low saturated fats and more calories per ounce.

Tinned fish is great, but when it is blended with smoked mussels, fish, crab, and octopus, it becomes awesome from a consumer point of view.

Curious Beverage Options for Sober Customers:

Restaurant Menu Ideas | Curious Beverage Options for Sober Customers:

A variety of cocktails and mocktails is high on the overall demand curve because food ordering enthusiasts are concerned about alcohol consumption.

In that order, when we look at the kind of sober curious beverages to add to our restaurant menu ideas, go for mild drinks with a balanced amount of sugar. You can also dedicate a separate section of beverages based on vegan-friendly options such as veggie juices, fruit cocktails, and Seedlip.

The former is a non-alcoholic spirit that online and real-life restaurant operators love to place on their menu because of a soothing effect that induces freshness on different scales.

The interesting thing about Seedlip is that this non-distilled solution is not only based on different herbal ingredients but it can be combined with soda, sugar, and different beverage styles to offer a completely different taste to consumers’ buds.


Restaurant Menu Ideas | Mushrooms:

The wild seasonal topping of mushrooms on select food items escalates the overall tastefulness factor. It’s a known fact.

According to Lion Mane Mushroom Co., there’s almost a 360% increase in the addition of mushrooms as part of restaurant menu ideas that are going popular in the year 2021 and beyond. Shrooms are damn right delicious, even when they are added to something as popular as a grilled pizza offered via food ordering apps these days.

The relatively well-known varieties of mushrooms, such as trumpets and chanterelles are easier to order for restaurant owners and cloud kitchen operators due to the low-cost factor. Don’t forget to add a zestful serving of these gorgeous edibles, the next time you are looking to add something new to your restaurant food ideas.

Lettuce Alternatives with a Twist:

Restaurant Menu Ideas | Lettuce Alternatives with a Twist:

The latest strategy for trendy restaurant food ideas calls for enticing salad options.

If you are planning to go for romaine and iceberg, don’t do that. They were dubbed “so last year”, by salad lovers because there’s so much more to a platter of consumables than offering a side of lettuce with your popular BBQ dishes.

Add Celtuce, Kale, Celery, Cherries, and other little gems that are a cross between your usual lettuces, romaine, and iceberg restaurant food ideas. You will thank us later.

Add a Blend of ‘Homemade’ or ‘MomMade’:

Source: Kucher & Partners | Lucid

Ever since the lockdown went underway, MomMade and Homemade became part of the new normal restaurant food ideas. You don’t have to take our word for it.

Simon Kucher did a restaurant survey in Q3 2020 to see why a certain number of restaurants were becoming increasingly popular as compared to other competitors within the same niche.

The report highlights two pain points that play a vital role in helping a modern-day restaurant to thrive.

  1. It is the taste of food
  2. It is the overall quality of food on the menu

If a major chunk of your customers is coming in from a dedicated food ordering app, then focus on ramping up your food’s taste and quality. In other words, “Momino” is better than your favorite “Domino’s” branch because anything that screams ‘homecooked’ is back in style. And we are not suggesting that you need to render customer orders through a 3rd party food preparation platform that’s operating from a small kitchen in a remote residential area.

On the contrary, you can do the same by ensuring that your chefs follow the same high standards during food preparation that comes with a sense of love which a mother dotes on her kids.

To that effect, it’s not a bad idea to introduce a variety of meals to your restaurant food ideas list that is labeled as homecooked under ordinary conditions. Within that capacity, you can profit off well on breakfast menus, maple syrup, sandwiches, and other heritage home-cooked items that are relatively easier and faster to prepare.

Adding Some Maple-y Goodness to Restaurant Menu Ideas:

Adding Some Maple-y Goodness to Restaurant Menu Ideas

That’s true. The sweet nectar that was once loved by Aboriginal tribes and people in the Native Americas is still loved to date – and that too because the word: “maple” exudes tastiness and an overall homely feeling.

Many popular restaurants are named after maple. For instance, ‘Maple and Ash’, ‘Maple Landing’ and ‘Birch and Maple’ have one thing in common. They all share the same word. Beyond that, it’s an assortment of dedicated restaurant menu ideas that highlight maple-based options, other than regular menu items.

Think about adding something plain and simple as a Maple Macchiato under the ‘Coffees and Beverages’ section to see how your customers respond to it. This mere suggestion that’s forecasted to result in a spike in repeat customers who’ve had the pleasure of consuming maple in various forms in their lives.

For the Pessimist In Your Customers Base!

Restaurant Menu Ideas | For the Pessimist In Your Customers Base!

While the notion of serving to people on an all-time high and bright mood spectrum sounds great, there’s always a time when we are all grouchy for no apparent reason.

That being said, even a pessimist needs to quench his/ her desire for food at any given time of the day. However, grouchy folks are not very choosy about specialties on a given food menu. They want something that doesn’t take long for food businesses to prepare, and it arrives in minimum time duration as compared to other restaurants in the market.

Take the culinary desires of a growing, but skeptical, doom monger who wants fast food orders laced with simple menu options. It could be a burger or a sandwich with ooey-gooey goodness of drool-worthy cheese.

They’ll thank you later for it.

Blink is your #1 Online Ordering Platform for Restaurants

Finding Restaurant Menu Ideas That Work

Finding a menu that works often takes time on an operator’s part.

It is normal for a restaurant to shuffle and re-introduce different menu options to see which works. Therefore, don’t panic, if your current menu isn’t getting as much engagement as possible.

Luckily, if you are working through a restaurant service provider app, such as Blink Co, then you have a ton of customer-centric analytic reports to play with. Not only that, but Blink also offers a dedicated white-labeled virtual space where your restaurant gets all the shenanigans of a real-life name brand with a logo, fast menu creation options, templates, and other elements.

Blink | Finding Restaurant Menu Ideas That Work

This way, you can embed your slew of restaurant menu ideas based on what your customers love at a given time of the day. It’s called hyper-targeting customers by following their trend spikes to identify that time of the day for which any restaurant menu item gets popular.

Other than that, you need to answer the following questions before practically implementing your prized restaurant menu ideas right away:

  1. What’s the total number of dishes reserved for the starter section?
  2. Do you have ongoing time-gated menu options for a specific duration of the day?
  3. What are your food categories?
  4. Do you have any desserts on your restaurant menu?
  5. What is the overall ratio of non-vegan dishes to vegan dishes in your restaurant menu idea?
  6. Do you have any special meals for kids and minors?

Above all, study your competitors’ menu to gain insight into what’s working for them and why.

After you have gone through the above options and questions, you can start with a mix of new and old food items on your menu. Don’t forget that your restaurant’s theme is important as it needs to follow a certain vibe that’s unique to your name brand.

Finally, it’s all about showcasing your awesome food photography skills through Instagram, Facebook, and other platform ads under your restaurant’s profile page.

We have a separate post on how to market your food business like a champ in 2021.

If you haven’t read that yet, be sure to give it a go. Don’t forget to enlighten your fellow readers through detailed comments on which restaurant menu ideas worked for you.

Good luck and have fun with your food business. Besides, as they say, the fun’s always in the journey.

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