Things are looking a little different in restaurants as we roll into spring. New disruptors—tech developments, new ways of ideating and more—are shaking up the industry norms. Hosts are taking a techy edge, shrinking wine lists seem less daunting and those interested in testing out a concept don’t have to jump in full-force to see if their concept has legs. Here’s a look at some trends reshaping the biz.
1. 'Reservation agent on board'
BMW will roll out the capability in the next few months for drivers to use their onboard navigation system to find and book a restaurant with voice requests. General Motors began partnering with Groupon and ExxonMobil to offer dining coupons through its OnStar RemoteLink app.
2. Precisely pruned wine lists
Many beverage programs are discarding the lengthy wine book for fewer yet carefully curated selections. Chef-driven American restaurant Alter in Miami offers two wine lists. The first is a short list on the food menu focusing on pairings; the second, longer list is available upon request. Southern restaurant Olamaie in Austin serves only 24 all-American bottles.
3. Test and comissary kitchens go communal
The incubator kitchen, a shared commercial space, might be the next iteration of commissary kitchens. Findlay Kitchen, a new 8,000-square-foot incubator kitchen in Cincinnati, intends to nix entrance barriers for new concepts. Jonnetta Patton, the mom of R&B artist Usher, has the same goal with her Atlanta incubator. In Washington, D.C., Union Kitchen provides restaurants with a test kitchen so they can develop recipes without taxing their working back of the house.