2023’s Top Trends for New Restaurants

February 2023

It’s the beginning of a new year, and for many of us, that means change is in the air! Since we’re always innovating, the new year doesn’t bring on many resolutions for our business. However, it does lead to a slew of articles about restaurant trends for 2023, and we’re excited to see how many of our planned ideas and innovations made the lists! 

Some trends for 2023, like outdoor dining, have been part of our business plans from the very start. However, we’re also seeing quite a few of our favorite dishes, and some ideas we have in development, topping this year’s trends lists! 

In this article, we’ll break down how Barrel House aligns with 2023’s top restaurant trends, and show you a sneak peek of a few exciting additions to our menu coming this year!

The Top Restaurant “Vibe” of 2023

A “vibe” may not be a menu item – but it was great to see “community” featured as the food vibe of 2023 in the New York Times. Community has been a cornerstone of Barrel House’s business plan since day one! We provide a place for people to come together to enjoy ordinary days and celebrate occasions of all kinds, and one of our favorite parts of opening a new franchise location is getting to know a new community of guests!

Community is also central to our We Care Culture, the basis of all our staff’s interactions with Barrel House guests. We want to be your friendly, neighborhood tavern, with upscale food and drinks you’ll love, and that means making connections in the communities we call home. 

Happy Clients

Outdoor Dining in 2023

Outdoor dining exploded into the conversation about restaurants back in 2020. Sure, there have always been restaurants with patios – every Barrel House location has had an outdoor dining option since our first restaurant opened in [YEAR??]! 

But even as concerns about the pandemic have waned, diners have still looked forward to outdoor dining – and 2023 is no exception! Restaurants with patios and other outdoor options are still in high demand, and Barrel House is poised to deliver. 

Comfort Food & Midwest Cuisine – 2023 Restaurant Trend

Imagine our surprise (and delight!) when we saw ‘comfort food,’ ‘nostalgic food,’ or ‘Midwest dishes’ on almost every trend article that crossed our desks! From the Food Network to Spoon University to the esteemed National Restaurant Association, the consensus is clear: in 2023, diners want classic Midwest comfort food that tastes like home, and Barrel House is poised to deliver!

We love our Midwest roots, and are glad to bring Food That Lifts Your Spirits to the region we call home! We’re expanding throughout the Midwest, bringing our guests the classic comfort food they’re craving at the highest level. 

From creamy loaded mac and cheese to Texas-toast hangover sandwiches to melty quesadillas and even build-your-own pizzas, Barrel House delivers on Midwest-style comfort food like nowhere else.

Hot Restaurant Dishes for 2023

A few specific ingredients and dishes made 2023 restaurant trend shortlists, and we’re excited to see some of our very favorites – including some upcoming menu items that you’ll see in a Barrel House near you in the next month or two!

The Chicken Sandwich Wars are Back

Remember the infamous chicken sandwich wars? While we love a good, greasy, fast-food chicken sandwich, the Barrel House kitchens can put together something even better. Our Ranch Chicken Sandwich is a Midwest classic, with a brioche bun, swiss, and plenty of creamy ranch. 

We also capitalize on the hyper-local trend for 2023 with two ‘regional’ specialty chicken sandwiches. Our Cajun Jack Chicken Sandwich brings all the flavors of Louisiana home, with seasoned breading, pepper jack cheese, and our signature Barrel House sauce. 

And of course, there’s the king of regional chicken sandwiches – the Nashville Hot Chicken. Barrel House’s Nashville-style hot chicken will be getting a makeover here soon, with a new sauce we know hot chicken aficionados will love!

Spicy Foods are In for 2023

The Nashville Hot Chicken Sandwich is just the tip of the iceberg – we’ve noticed that our guests are craving something with a kick, so we weren’t surprised to see that spicy foods are in for this year! In the first few months of 2023, we’ll be expanding our selection of spicy dishes with a brand-new spicy fish taco!

2023 Restaurant Trend: Mushrooms

Mushrooms have been underrated for too long, so we were excited to see them getting some love in this year’s trend lists! Too often, mushroom dishes are a poor imitation of meat, but our Portabella Mushroom Sandwich is built from the ground up around maximizing the savory, earthy flavor of portabellas, with a balsamic marinade and fresh veggies. And of course, our Portabella Mushroom Fries are battered, deep-fried slices of mushroom-y goodness that deserve a chance in the spotlight.

Better Wraps & Salads In the New Year

In the last few years, the idea that a wrap or salad is a healthier option has garnered some skepticism – either they’re healthy, or they’re tasty, but is it really possible for these ‘lighter’ options to do both? We think so! 

That’s why our menu is packed with tasty wraps you’ll look forward to eating, and salads that are bursting with flavor. We were excited to see wraps and salads made the National Restaurant Association’s trending list for 2023, getting the attention they deserve for being veggie-packed nutritional powerhouses that also taste great!

Drink Trends for Restaurants in 2023

Barrel House isn’t just a restaurant – it’s an upscale tavern with a full bar in every location, so we couldn’t neglect drink trends in the new year! 

Indulgent Drinks for 2023: Barrel House’s Boozy Shakes

This year, we’re looking forward to the introduction of Barrel House’s alcoholic shakes! These drinks can be ordered in a wide variety of fun flavors, and are coming to all of our locations soon. 

We’ve been testing this new menu with guests, and we’re excited to share our shakes more widely, because the response has been excellent! (And no wonder – “indulgent” drinks top the 2023 prediction lists for publications like Wine Enthusiast and VinePair!)

Alcohol-Free Options

Demand for alcohol-free options at bars is growing, and Barrel House is poised to provide! With a full-service bar, every Barrel House location can make a virgin version of any cocktail our guests desire! 

Our new alcoholic shakes can also be ordered without the booze for anyone looking to cut back. Barrel House may be a bar-and-grill style restaurant, but we’re happy to ensure all guests have a great experience, whether they’re drinking or not!

Local Brews for Carryout

In another innovation for early 2023, Barrel House will be offering some of our signature on-tap beers in canned 4-packs for carryout orders! In particular, guests love our Island Time Wheat, which has been exclusively on-tap at Barrel House prior to now. 

This change will help our guests enjoy the flavor and experience of Barrel House any time, anywhere – which is exciting, as our delivery and to-go options are expanding in 2023 as well!

Delivery and Carryout Options for Restaurants in 2023

The pandemic really underscored the importance of carryout options for restaurants around the world, and Barrel House was quick to innovate with online ordering and carryout options that kept our doors open and our guests fed. 

Even now, we’ve seen how guests love our menu, even when they’d prefer to eat in… So we’re expanding our offerings to make enjoying Barrel House easier than ever!

We’re in the final stages of bringing delivery options to our guests, so they can order Barrel House favorites directly to their doors! National and local partners can help make this possible, while ensuring that food quality still meets our standards by delivery time. 

We know this will greatly expand the business opportunities for our franchise locations, and are excited to start providing this service for the communities they serve!

An Even-Better Restaurant Rewards Experience

We’re also planning some improvements to our Barrel House app in 2023! We’ve found that our guests love the loyalty programs we’ve offered so far. They’re able to enjoy their Barrel House favorites, and try all our newest menu items. Giving back to our guests helps turn new visitors into regulars, and keep regular guests returning for something new each time. 

Our loyalty program runs mainly through the Barrel House app, where we can keep in touch with guests right on their cell phones, and send special offers and deals directly to their notifications. The response to our app has been great – it currently boasts a 4.6 star rating on the App Store.

Rewarding guest loyalty is perfectly in line with our We Care culture, and we’re looking forward to expanding that program in 2023. For our franchise partners, a robust loyalty program helps ensure their new locations open to a ready-made Barrel House fan club – it’s truly a win-win situation!


Our Favorite Restaurant Trends of 2023

These are just a few of the trends we’ve seen listed for 2023, but we’re sure the year will hold plenty of surprises all on its own. The best trend we’ve seen on these lists, though, is excellent customer service

At a time when the restaurant and hospitality industry are struggling with staff, we’re proud to say that our teams remain committed to bringing a great experience to every Barrel House guest. We provide every location with the tools, training, and resources they need to uphold the standards of We Care culture, and it shows in our guests’ experiences!

If any of these trends catch your eye, we’d love to talk more about how you can get in on the action with a Barrel House franchise of your own. Give us a call at 563-204-8148 or reach out to franchise@barrelhousepub.com to learn more about opening a Barrel House location near you!