What’s in Store for Restaurants in 2015?

grains blog2015 is here, and it’s made us start wondering what the next year has in store for the restaurant industry. To find out, we gathered predictions from some of the most influential people in the business: chefs, restaurateurs, editors, and more. From menus and cocktails to service and technology, here are the trends they expect to see play out this year. Read on, then tell us in the comments: what are your predictions?

FAST CASUAL

“Star chefs known for the power of their personal vision will open up fast casual: Dave Chang, Roy Choi and Daniel Patterson, Josh Skenes, Jose Andres. We’ll be eating better burgers and vegetables, quickly.” — Dana Cowin, Editor-in-Chief, Food & Wine

By far, the most common prediction among industry leaders is a revolution of traditional fast-food restaurants, and a growing interest in casual, affordable dining from top-tier chefs.

As Union Square Hospitality Group CEO Danny Meyer tells us, “Everyone wants to be the Chipotle of (fill in the blank).” Author Ruth Reichl added that chefs are addressing a serious problem by offering affordable food in underserved neighborhoods. “I think that’s going to mushroom and they’re going to be really successful,” she notes.

COMPENSATION 

“I don’t know if this will truly be a trend, but my heart holds out hope for it: better pay for cooks.” — Francis Lam, food writer and judge, Top Chef Masters 

With some restaurants eliminating tipping and exploring alternative methods of compensation, fair pay continues to be a hot topic in the industry. Corney Burns and Nick Balla of San Francisco’s Bar Tartine tell us, “We see restaurants moving away from tipping, coming up with alternative ways to compensate staff.”

GRAINS

“I expect to see more awareness and discussion of monocultivar grains in the coming year. I was just involved in a film called The Grain Divide with such chefs and experts as Michael Pollan, Dan Barber, Chad Robertson, Marc Vetri, Sean Brock, and more regarding the benefits of small mills over mass-produced product and its effect on health and flavor profiles.” — Michael Tusk, Chef/Owner, Quince and Cotogna

In 2014, whole grains were popular on menus and cookbooks alike — and 2015 should be no different, as chefs rediscover a variety of heirloom and specialty grains.

“Rye was the big grain of 2014. I predict chefs will explore other grains for breads, pastas, and, especially, desserts.” — Izabela Wojcik, Director of House Programming, James Beard Foundation Continue Reading

January Restaurant Weeks: New Year, New Ways to Save

LTPRGet ready for a month of nationwide deliciousness with restaurant weeks in more than 30 cities. Make a reservation to dine for less in January!

* Marin County Restaurant Month started on the first of the year! Enjoy happy hour specials and unique menus, January 1-31. Reserve now.

* Charleston Restaurant Week has kicked off. Dig into delish prix-fixe lunches + dinners, January 7-18. Reserve now.

* Sacramento Dine Downtown Restaurant Week offers up three-course $31 dinners, January 15-24. Reserve now.

* Restaurant Week South Carolina has what you crave with creative, prix-fixe three-course dinners, January 8-18. Reserve now.

Virginia Beach Restaurant Week serves up gourmet $10 lunches + $20 or $30 dinners, January 10-19. Reserve now.

* Galveston Restaurant Week has something for everyone with $10, $15, $20, $25, $30, $35, and $40 menus, January 10-24. Reserve now.

* Providence Restaurant Weeks brings you three-course $14.95 lunches and $29.95 + $34.95 dinners, January 11-24. Reserve now.

Restaurant Week Columbus has three-course meals for $15-$25, January 12-17. Reserve now.

* Pittsburgh Restaurant Week invites you to dine on specially priced three-course meals, January 12-18. Reserve now.

Sacramento Dine Downtown Restaurant Week beckons with three-course $31 dinners, January 15-24. Reserve now.

* Oakland Restaurant Week features oh-so-good $20, $30, and $40 lunches + dinners, January 15-25. Reserve now.

* Kansas City Restaurant Week presents $15 lunches and $33 dinners, January 16-25. Reserve now.

Dine Out Vancouver has mouthwatering $18, 28, and $38 dinners, January 16-February 1. Reserve now.

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Announcing the Inaugural San Francisco Restaurant Week, 1/21-30 #SFRW

SF-RestaurantWeek400pwOpenTable is thrilled to partner with The Golden Gate Restaurant Association for the inaugural San Francisco Restaurant Week. Formerly known as Dine About Town, the all-new San Francisco Restaurant Week will take place January 21-30 and feature offerings from more than 100 restaurants in 23 neighborhoods serving 24 different cuisines — with two exciting options.

The classic restaurant week prix-fixe menu goes into overdrive with one-of-a-kind $25 two-course lunches and $40 three-course dinners — plus added treats such as an amuse-bouche, a paired beverage, an after-meal takeaway, or other yummy extras. New participants include Bartlett HallChino, and Le Marais Bakery and Bistro.

Available at select restaurants, chefs’ imaginations run wild with the special $85 discovery menu highlighting inspired food and beverage pairings. Hog & Rocks is partnering with High West Whiskey to feature a whiskey-themed dinner. Canela Bistro Bar will create a culinary tour through Spain with a special wine pairing. AQ Restaurant & Bar will offer a roots-themed tasting menu highlighting winter root vegetables set to music by The Roots. Ichi Sushi + Ni Bar will be serving signature beverages alongside a tasting menu and a seasonal produce-inspired dessert to end the night.

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Introducing the New OpenTable Restaurant Resources Site + Blog

MKT-OpenforBusiness-black-userAt OpenTable, we’re ringing in 2015 with some exciting new projects and resources for restaurants. Here’s a peek at what we have now, and what’s still to come.

Our new restaurant site tells you everything you need to know about working with OpenTable, starting with an overview of our key solutions for running a restaurant: Guest Center, Payments, and Copilot insights, to name a few. You’ll also find customer success stories, an ROI calculator to help you measure success, and an introduction to the team behind the products and services. Existing customers can sign in to manage their accounts, too.

Plus, we’re thrilled to announce the launch of our new restaurant blog, Open for Business! Here, we’re turning our attention to the business behind “the business,” featuring tips, tricks, and fresh ideas from top restaurateurs, editors, and experts on how to run a restaurant successfully. Since we’re proud to partner with the best restaurants in the industry, we want to share their knowledge and expertise and start new conversations within this community — from hiring great staff and tracking food cost to building an international restaurant empire. Here’s what you’ll find:

Ruth Reichl on What Restaurants Should Know About Food Critics (& How to Spot One): An interview with author and former restaurant critic Ruth Reichl about what makes great service, dealing with negative reviews, and how to spot a critic.

How to Open a Restaurant, Part 1: Building a Brand Identity: Restaurant consultant Alison Arth has led 13 restaurant openings to date and is currently working with Gavin Kaysen’s team at Spoon and Stable in Minneapolis. This is her first post in a 10-part series of best practices for launching a new concept.

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