New Jersey is seeing some strong trends coming through in the restaurant and catering industries. Banquet halls and a la carte restaurants alike are stepping up their game to draw in a fresh crowd and satisfy modern palates. Steeped in the neon-glow of our neighboring big cities, diners have always looked to NJ for metropolis-caliber quality without the glitzy price tag. New Jersey restauranteurs appear to be up for the challenge of orchestrating a dining experience that patrons can get excited about. Here are five dining trends to look out for:
1. Expansion - In 2018, New Jersey restaurants accounted for 7.3% of the state’s total employment - that’s 330,000 people! And growth is trending upwards, according to statistics. By 2027, the hospitality industry is expected to account for 15% of the state’s total workforce. The hospitality industry is responding to the growth and taking it seriously. For example, the New Jersey Restaurant & Hospitality Expo (April 2019) was the largest state event in the industry in several years. A sure sign that New Jersey hospitality is re-investing in itself!
2. Vegetarian Options – Science has come up in leaps and bounds with its innovations in the meat-substitute arena. With products such as “The Impossible Burger”, restaurants have been able to accommodate their vegetarian clientele in delicious and creative ways! This is important since results of FooDS surveys indicate that the percentage of self-identified vegetarians has been increasing substantially between the years of 2013 and 2018. Gone are the days when the vegetarians among us were forced to resort to house salads when dining out.
3. CBD Oil – CBD, a non-psychoactive derivative of industrial hemp, is legal for use in New Jersey and chefs are already experimenting with incorporating it into their menu items. The medicinal benefits of CBD oil has caused quite a buzz in the media and restaurants are beginning to pay attention. Food and drink items are showing up on menus across the state. There’s no telling if the trend will explode or if it will be a short-lived fad, but it’s definitely something to look out for.
4. Ketogenic Menu Items - Keto (high-fat, ultra-low-carb) diets are all the rage at the moment due to their reported fast-acting weight loss effects. With the strength of the gluten free market, New Jersey has seen more Keto-friendly options on restaurant menus (if not advertised – just ask!). Many chains across the nation have already gotten on the bandwagon and now we are seeing individual chefs follow suit.
5. Farm-Themed Weddings - Burlap ribbons, hay bales and neutral-colored linens go hand in hand with a farm-to-table menu for modern nuptials. This charming concept has been on the uptick for the past few years and now we are seeing catering halls making adjustments to beautifully accommodate this elegant-yet-rustic aesthetic. What better place than The Garden State to pull off such an event?