There’s an undeniable hum throughout the foodservice industry as the pace of change continues to impact everyone.

During a period of sluggish sales foodservice operators from all segments continue to turn to technology to cure a variety of ills, including jump-starting sales by engaging customers via their preferred platforms and making more effective and efficient use of their labor. But the more restaurants operators look to the future, the more they embrace their past.

Take, for example, Rotolo’s Pizzeria. As part of its rebranding efforts to become Rotolo’s Craft & Crust, the Louisiana chain paid homage to its past by moving the bar front and center in its new prototype design and playing up the crafting of its pizzas (page 64). By moving the bar to the center of the operation and expanding its beer package, Rotolo’s hopes to wake up the echoes of its past by making the restaurants more comfortable, energetic and craft beer focused. The strategic redesign contributes to the restaurant’s energetic ambience and encourages guests to linger and maybe even have another drink.

Food safety represents another area where the past and future continue to work hand in hand. As menus continue to change to meet consumers’ changing tastes, the food safety fundamentals of time, temperature, sanitation and the like will forever remain constant for every foodservice operator, regardless of their segment. What will continue to change, though, is the tools operators can use when trying to provide a food-safe environment (page 30). Temperature-monitoring sensors, for example, make it easier for foodservice operators to track the performance of pieces of both cooking equipment and refrigeration and provide critical HAACP data to health inspectors. And electronic monitoring handwashing systems help police one of the most fundamental aspects of food safety: employee hygiene.

The next frontier for food safety? Leveraging big data. This will help operators analyze and improve food safety, better manage their supply chains and become more efficient by minimizing the amount of front-end, manual work that has to be done.

As you can see, the old cliché of the more things change the more they stay the same seems more appropriate than ever in today’s foodservice industry. Such is the case when you take a look at overall industry performance projections for the remainder of 2018 and 2019. For the past five-plus years, the industry has enjoyed moderate growth and that’s what economists and industry analysts have on the menu for the next 12 to 15 months (page 22). The good news is that there appears to be no significant headwinds on the horizon. The bad news is that it appears there are no events on the horizon that will jump-start industry sales beyond its now normal
1 percent to 2 percent real growth rate.

When planning for 2019, keep up to date with the latest industry trends and conditions but know that past is present.