5 Ways to Open a Trendy Restaurant

June 2024

Trendy tropical fruits for summer 2024

When opening a new restaurant, you can’t always be sure what the future will hold – just ask anyone who opened in 2019! But one thing is always certain: food trends will come and go, so a trendy restaurant has to be ready to pivot. From the rainbow foods trend back in 2016 to the super-tropical flavors trending for summer 2024, foodies are always looking to try the latest and greatest fads, and share them with their followers.

Which, of course, leaves restaurateurs wondering: What’s the best way to stay ahead of food trends? At Barrel House, we think we’ve unlocked the formula, and we’re sharing the basics with you today. Want an even more in-depth look? Become a Barrel House franchisee and see for yourself! 

How to Trend as a New Restaurant

In general, we’ve found that staying ahead of the curve involves a combination of good market research, a flexible menu, marketing, maximizing your drink options, and one last step that’s worth reading on for!

Good Market Research Keeps You Ahead of the Curve

It’s hard to overstate the impact of good market research on a restaurant’s ability to cash in on trends. If you’re seeing something all over social media, it may already be too late to add it to your menu.

Developing a tasty menu item that makes sense in your restaurant’s supply chain and budget can be a long process! With trends, word-of-mouth is a key factor, so your new, trendy menu item needs to be good, or the local foodies will be sure everyone knows it’s not worth the trip. 

Beyond that, you’ll need to make sure that you can keep up with demand without crunching your kitchen or your budget. If something trends unexpectedly, adding it to your restaurant’s workflow can be more difficult than you might expect. And if the new, trendy item backs up the kitchen for the rest of the night, it won’t be worth the hype.

That’s why we have our marketing team keeping a finger on the pulse of upcoming trends. By spotting hot menu items before they take over TikTok and Instagram feeds, we ensure there’s plenty of time to develop a delicious recipe, and work out any procedural kinks before they tie your kitchen up in knots.

This dedicated team helps all our Barrel House locations stay right on the cutting edge of food trends, so our location owners always have the next hot menu item ready to go!

A Flexible Menu Makes Trends Easy

As we mentioned, the logistics of getting something trendy on the menu can be a nightmare! If a new trend emerges, and there’s nothing like it on the menu, you’re stuck developing something new from scratch… Not to mention sourcing new ingredients, training kitchen and front-of-house staff, and more.

That’s one of the secrets of the Barrel House menu – it’s so flexible! With a wide variety of proteins, inspiration from various cuisines, and something for every palate, we usually have something that’s close to every trend, before it even starts. 

It’s much easier to put a twist on an existing menu item than it is to create something from scratch. And we’ve found that sometimes, we actually have something trendy on the menu already, and all it takes is spotlighting this existing favorite to bring in fresh faces!

For example, spicy foods are having a serious moment! The trend of spicier foods has been on the rise for years, with hot sauce sales up over 200% and a record-high 75% of people saying they love spicy foods. 

Promo for Firecracker Friday a Barrel House - a flexible menu helps make a trendy restaurant!Barrel House’s “firecracker” menu items have been a mainstay for even longer, and they’re more popular than ever! These existing dishes didn’t need to be developed, or tested, and we didn’t need to source new ingredients. We just needed to remind potential guests that Barrel House had spicy options, and watch the new and returning customers pour in! Promos like Firecracker Friday make it easy for us to highlight these trendy dishes, with very little added effort.

The next time a food trend gets big, we’re pretty confident that there’ll be a corresponding Barrel House menu item that will fit the bill! This flexible, wide-ranging menu makes it much easier to ensure we’re always serving trending food.

Marketing Trends for Your New Restaurant

You may have noticed a pattern across our last couple of tips – the marketing team!

Whether they’re anticipating the next big thing, or promoting an old favorite with new interest, the corporate marketing team is a key reason why Barrel House’s many locations succeed.

This dedicated team has the time and expertise to chase trends and ensure that guests, new and returning alike, know that Barrel House has the newest fads in addition to old favorites. Their work sends more hungry guests through the door, and frees up restaurant owners to do what they do best: ensure that each and every one of them leaves satisfied.

Providing a trained marketing team, whose sole focus is growing business for each and every Barrel House location, is just one of the ways we make opening a restaurant easier, but it’s one of the easiest ones to overlook. 

Most restaurateurs will tell you: when the going gets tough, marketing is often the first thing to take a hit. It’s hard to prioritize when you’re busy with staff, facilities, supply chains, and customer service! Our marketing team frees up our franchisees to focus on improving their restaurants, while they rest assured the customers will continue to dine with them – with or without the latest trends on the menu.

Drink Trends for New Restaurants

Your Barrel House restaurant’s drink menu is the “sleeper hit” when it comes to capitalizing on trends! 

Mixed drinks are having a serious resurgence, and are a trend in and of themselves. But the opportunity to cash in on a craze doesn’t stop at just having a bartender.

Often, it’s easier to incorporate a new, trendy drink than a food. And for trends like this summer’s tropical fruit craze, 

Barrel House has used our drink menu to react to trends countless times over the years! Most recently, we’ve responded to people’s craving for indulgent desserts with boozy milkshakes, and the ongoing whiskey resurgence with June’s Bourbon Bash.

Drink trend cycles are often so short, that a single month is all it takes for the trend to burn out… Which is great, because it means there’s always a reason to return to Barrel House and try something new!

Our Final Hint? Don’t Chase Trends. Set Them!

This sounds trite, but we mean it! The very first Barrel House was imagined as something simple – great food and drinks in a comfortable atmosphere. That is, possibly, the least-trendy way to describe a restaurant we can imagine. And yet, 13 years later, here we are! Barrel House locations aren’t just surviving in a tough restaurant market, we’re expanding with new franchise locations every year.

Our secret for success is that, while we’re always happy to cater to trends where we can, we never deviate from our basic formula. Great good. Great drinks. Comfortable atmosphere. After all, isn’t that what we’re all looking for when we choose a place to meet with colleagues, friends, or family?

And it turns out, a lot of our initial ideas – like comfort food, firecracker spice, and a full-service bar rather than just beer and wine – have been among the biggest trends of the last few years. We’ve learned that, if you make good food and take good care of your guests, the trends are just a cherry on top.

How to Open a New, Trendy Restaurant

The simple answer: become a Barrel House franchisee! Our team has perfected the system for capitalizing on trends, while ensuring that your restaurant is successful in the long term, too!

By combining good market research, a flexible menu, dedicated marketing, delicious drinks, and staying focused on the long game, the Barrel House team has built this brand into a name that lasts. Whether we’re showcasing a flashy new drink, or serving something that’s been on the menu since day one, that Barrel House dedication to quality food and excellent service never wavers – and we can teach you how to use that same formula to open a profitable restaurant yourself.

Interested in learning more? Reach out to our franchise team today! They’ll be happy to answer your questions, and help you decide whether a Barrel House location is right for your business plan.