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Our Writers Predict Hits & Misses for 2019: Part 7

Our Writers Predict Hits & Misses for 2019: Part 7

Photo: New Orleans-based Willa Jean is one of many restaurants across the country doing its part to improve the industry culture. (Photo by: BRG Hospitality Group)


Ximena N. Larkin’s Top 10 trends list takes a look behind the scenes of hospitality.

Ximena N. Larkin is a writer based in Chicago. She’s interested the stories behind the food and drink options, especially if they’re on women or people of color. Here are her predictions for 2019—and beyond.

Ladies to the front

We’re living in the #MeToo era. Mario Batali’s public ouster sent a clear message on sexual harassment. Restaurateurs should not only be looking to put women in positions of power, but cultivate an environment in which they feel safe. If they’re not, don’t expect them to stay in business.

Greater food diversity

It’s not just women who are getting a chance to move to the forefront, there is more to diversity than gender. Look for people of color and those who identify as queer to be put in lead roles.

Ok Google, where should I go for dinner?

Tech use continues to rise, and restaurants should start thinking about a strategy around voice command. As more customers begin to employ assistant AI tech on their phones and home devices, they’re likely to turn to their digital butler for advice on where to dine. Craft a plan before it’s too late.

Small batch, artisanal products

Farm-to-table might feel “been there, done that” but its effects still linger. Consumers want to know where their food and drinks are sourced from. And, if they feel like an additional amount of effort was put in to produce their product, they’re likely to pay more for the service. Psychologists call this effort heuristic.

Mexican spirits on the rise

Mezcal, the cousin to tequila, already feels dated. With curious and adventurous diners always looking to uncover the hot new thing, expect an interest in Mexico’s more regional spirits. Sotol, with a similar profile to mezcal, is already gaining popularity with those in the know. Pox, a grain liquor used in ancient Mayan rituals, recently became available in the United States. It's time to get more creative than your competitor.

Let’s get high

Edibles, wherever legal, and CBD products are gaining more traction across all markets. Forget dirt-tasting weed brownies or gummies. In the upcoming year, look for the mood enhancer in high-quality fare. Think acai bowls, juice bars and cocktails.

Fight for your rights

There’s going to be a greater push for staff protections. Technology has made it easier for people to cross-reference their experience with another’s. As a result, staffers have greater control, which is leading to big changes in the hospitality industry. Better health insurance, no tipping policies and paid time off is sure to be an important factor for employees.

Power in politics

Businesses are going to have to make a choice on where they stand when it comes to politics. On the crisis communication front, this might mean deciding what to do if someone from an opposing party dines in your establish. From a more general policy, owners and management will be pushed to give employees time off to vote.

Alternative meats

Diners looking to reduce their footprint or try the latest trend, are sure to jump on genetically modified meats. Think the Impossible Burger. The plant-based patty mimicking all the characteristics of the real thing is certain to lure in customers. 

Booze-free craft cocktails

The soda and lime trick just isn’t going to cut it anymore. Diners want to be wooed with fancy drinks, without the hangover. The new Year is sure to begin with resolutioners looking to make changes; be sure you’re ready for them.


  • Author: Ximena N. Larkin
  • Posted: December 03, 2018
  • Categories: Trending Now
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