Restaurant owners are stepping into 2024 with a sense of optimism. The worst of the pandemic is over and there are no more lockdowns to disrupt daily operations. There’s only one way and it’s up. The restaurant industry is ready to face the future by leveraging new technology solutions and embracing sustainability to navigate evolving challenges and capitalize on new opportunities. It’s an intricate dance that needs care and precision. According to data from the Square 2024 Future of Restaurants report, the industry’s focus on innovation remains a top priority as operators place efficiency and growth on top of their list of priorities.
Technology continues to play a pivotal role in addressing staffing and operational hurdles as restaurant owners increasingly turn to automation tools to streamline processes. From managing orders and payments to inventory and food preparation, technology-enabled solutions are essential for enhancing productivity, which has become harder in the face of ongoing labor shortages. In fact, all surveyed respondents reported using automation tools to fill critical gaps in staffing. Looking ahead, investment in automation is expected to remain robust, with 37% of restaurant owners planning to expand their use of automation to overcome staffing challenges in the coming year. This strategic investment not only helps sustain businesses but also contributes to increased profitability as evidenced by 40% of owners with multiple locations reporting higher profits due to automation.
In addition to technology adoption, restaurant owners are increasingly prioritizing environmental sustainability in their operations. This shift involves adopting eco-friendly practices such as replacing single-use plastic with compostable packaging, utilizing imperfect produce to combat food waste, and sourcing ingredients locally to reduce carbon emissions and support sustainable farming initiatives. Around 39% of respondents plan to enhance sustainability efforts in order to align themselves with consumer preferences for environmentally conscious dining experiences.