Restaurant trends and issues

Creative strategies in today’s evolving restaurant marketplace

RSM understands the issues affecting the restaurant industry. Growth-minded operators are listening to their customers, whose expectations are evolving. Busier lifestyles, shifting demographics, and changing consumer preferences and buying habits are combining with rising competition, real estate costs, food safety concerns and cybersecurity risks to ramp up the pressures on operators’ systems, sourcing and workforce.

RSM’s professionals are committed to serving and advising restaurant companies as they pursue their business objectives and improve their performance through the most challenging business cycles. We serve more than 400 restaurant companies nationally—operators, franchisors and franchisees across all segments of the industry, including quick service restaurants (QSRs), fast casual, casual, polished casual and fine dining establishments.


  • Changing consumer preferences: Consumers are shifting from traditional retail spending on goods toward experiential spending on services. Restaurant operators are tapping today’s shifting customer preferences for healthier menu options as well as ethnic and international options to attract millennial customers, who are more open to these new experiences and options.
  • Technology: Technology continues to play a role in building the appealing customer experience, as younger diners are highly adept with technology, including mobile apps and social media, and use these tools to order delivery, research their dining options or share their experiences.
  • Food safety: Restaurants that embrace the farm-to-table movement, adding locally grown foods to their supply chain, must pay close attention to their food safety processes. Small farms and producers are less regulated than larger suppliers, and hence safety issues are a concern. Restaurant operators going this route need to carefully vet farm-to-table suppliers’ production and shipping methods, and then reinforce safe food handling processes with their own staff.
  • Labor: Restaurant managers are also grappling with other labor issues. Increases to the minimum wage, changes to Department of Labor overtime rules, and a tightening labor market require operators to balance costs against the need for talent. Turnover continues to rise across the entire industry, including casual and fine dining segments that had previously benefited from lower turnover rates than some other segments of the industry. Driving the guest experience, while managing unit-level costs, will be critical to success. If used effectively, technology can play an important role in managing headcount and enhancing efficiency.