Food Service Trends: Top Restaurant Changes Coming in 2021

The restaurant industry is constantly evolving. Here's how restaurant technology, delivery, and food service will change in 2021 to meet current demands.

The restaurant industry is constantly evolving. This past year has seen us face many unforeseeable challenges and adapt accordingly. Many of the lessons we’ve learned will continue to serve us well moving forward. Here’s how restaurant technology, delivery, and food service will continue to shift and grow in 2021 to meet customer demands.



While restaurants should still put in efforts to enhance dine-in experiences, many consumers prefer ordering online and through third-party delivery services so they can enjoy their food at home.

Both third-party solutions and direct online ordering can integrate with a restaurant’s POS system. This allows management to have insights on payment methods, delivery preferences, popular orders, and sales.



Many restaurants developed their own unique business apps before and during 2020, and it is one of the foodservice trends that will continue to gain steam for years to come. These apps allow customers to interact with their favorite restaurants from the comfort and convenience of their digital devices, giving them access to menus, limited time offers (LTOs), rewards programs, and more.

While curbside pickup and third-party delivery services will continue to be strong options for customers who prefer to dine at home, restaurant apps allow them to better customize their experience. While many things about the coming year remain hard to predict, you will be able to reach an even broader audience if your restaurant adopts and utilizes a digital app service.

The Wayback Burgers app launched in 2018 and has continued to gain in popularity. The app makes it convenient to access Wayback Burgers’ menu from anywhere. Whether they’re at home, at work, or already at the restaurant, guests can find favorite menu items and new offerings at their fingertips.

And it doesn’t stop at the menu. Guests can discover nearby Wayback Burgers locations, monitor the loyalty points they rack up via the Wayback Payback Rewards Programs, receive push notifications about specials, get rewards for referring friends and share their Wayback Burgers experience through social media connectivity.



Limited time offers (LTOs) can prove quite effective in driving more traffic to your restaurant. Many restaurants conduct LTO-related market studies to explore ways to roll out more limited menu items. Over the past five years, 64 percent of the top 500 restaurant and retail chains increased their LTO menu items.

The right LTOs strike a balance between traditional favorites and new ideas that provide new options for customers. The benefits of LTOs are two-fold — your customers will be excited at the opportunity to try unique offerings that give them a different taste of the food they already know and love. And as a business, you will gain invaluable knowledge about your customers’ dining habits and preferences.

Each LTO is determined, developed, and executed in partnership between culinary and marketing teams and franchise partners. At Wayback Burgers, we pride ourselves on our LTO specials as exciting opportunities for our guests and franchisees alike. As one of the nation’s fastest-growing burger franchises, we believe it’s imperative to continue to innovate, and limited time offers provide an excellent opportunity to do just that.

Just a couple of examples from this year include our Summertime Lemonade LTO to help beat the summer heat, and our “Cheesy Quarantini” burger was a riff on our classic Cheeeesy Burger in celebration of National Cheeseburger Day in the midst of a pandemic. Our milkshake promotion on Memorial Day saw a 2 percent increase in milkshake sales nationwide.



Restaurant businesses are continually working to find unique marketing strategies that grab the customers’ interest across different demographics. As the COVID-19 pandemic limited the dine-in experience during 2020, businesses found it crucial to prioritize marketing initiatives to reach customers. Your restaurant’s approach to marketing and customer outreach will continue to be important in the coming year.

Traditional and in-store marketing techniques remain powerful, but there are new platforms to help promote and drive your business. Digital and online marketing strategies are constantly evolving and require new ideas and clever, customer-engaging campaigns. These digital marketing techniques aren’t solely attached to your business’s website but involve other avenues, such as:

– Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

– Newsletters and Email Marketing

– Social Media Outreach

– Online Paid Ads

Some of these methods cost money, while others (like social media) simply require a little creativity and determination to make an impression on your current and prospective customer base.



2020 has been a hard year for many of us. One of the ways your restaurant can make a mark is by giving back to your community. Good will goes a long way, and by becoming a cornerstone of the community, your restaurant will become more appealing to socially-conscious diners.

Wayback Burgers launched its partnership with Boys & Girls Club of America back in 2018. We have introduced several major initiatives and fundraisers to support the organization’s mission. As part of the partnership, a small percentage of every burger and sandwich sold nationwide benefits BGCA. Many of our burger franchise partners also work with charitable organizations on a local level in their specific areas.



This year has brought about some drastic changes and adaptations in the restaurant industry that will endure into 2021 and likely beyond. The good news is that customers will always value how they experience their food, whatever shape that may take. It’s important to stay open and adaptable as we face the coming year.

Wayback Burgers offers our franchise owners support and guidance on all fronts in the ever-changing restaurant landscape, and we are invested in your success. If you would like to learn more about becoming a Wayback Burgers franchisee, visit us.

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