The biggest game-changing restaurant concepts of 2016

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The foodservice industry is constantly changing. New restaurant concepts come and go like cookies in the break room. The key to success is to be an early adopter of trends — or better yet, break the mold completely. These 10 concepts are changing the game in 2016, based on an article from Restaurant Business.

Welcome, what can it get started for you? | The tech savvy restaurant

Gone are the days of human interaction. I’m already typing to my 5,000 social media followers while simultaneously taking a photo of my food; you can’t expect me to actually talk to a cashier, too.

Because of this technology driven way of life, some restaurants are taking the “if you can’t beat them, join them” approach. Patrons can now order via a smartphone app or at self-serve kiosks, shepherding themselves through the entire process, all the way up to retrieving their prepared food from a touchscreen-controlled cubby. Granted, there are still people creating the food behind closed doors, but they too are being prompted and trained using technology.

You can’t sit with us | On-demand delivery

When thinking about opening a restaurant, location is critical. Or is it? New concepts are straying from the high rent prices of heavy traffic areas and instead are opting for a delivery-based concept, tucking their locations into alleys where the only things that matter are a working kitchen and a good driving record.

Ship ship hooray | Food truck 2.0

Opening a brick and mortar location can be a little daunting, so why not try a shipping container first? Likened to a food truck, these stationary and unconventional concepts allow for repeat business and the opportunity to dip your feet in the restaurant industry, rather than diving head first.

Dinner date to speed date | High end chef to fast-food

Some chefs work their entire lives to get into the kitchens of the nation’s finest restaurants; others get in there and walk right back out. High-end chefs are realizing that crafting quick and inexpensive meals no longer has to mean grease and ketchup packets. Innovative chef Danny Meyer proved this with his Shake Shack concept that utilizes locally grown ingredients and provides cheapish eats with premium sauces and drinks.

Read more about his transition into the QSR realm here.

Full and fast | Full service turning fast casual

Many full-service restaurants are now adding to their portfolios by opening associated fast-casual concepts, offering the cuisines we know and love with a millennial twist. These restaurants are updating their POS systems to iPad technology, providing self-service kiosks and offering a quick but tasty experience for their patrons.

Steakspeare | The kitchen as the stage

Restaurants spend thousands of dollars on equipment and experienced chefs, so why hide them in the back? New concepts are allowing customers to engage with the chefs in a whole new way — by watching their every move. Sure, having the kitchen surrounded by seating can pose a few challenges, but precise and clean cooking should always be a prerequisite.

One-stop shop | Food-first convenience store

I love taking road trips but hate putting the car in park. First you stop for the restroom, then for gas, then for food. The two-hour trip quickly turns into three.  C-stores are now providing a one-stop shop. They’ve got the gas, the restroom, the impulse snacks and, more and more often, higher quality, made-to-order food.

We’ve got a bar for that | Specialty drink spots

There are plenty of bars for beer and coffee, but what about other specialty drinks? Iced tea bars and specialty soda bars are popping up all over. These menus offer extensive choices that experiment with flavors while providing a fun experience for younger patrons.

Look both ways | Concept within a concept

They’ve got the location, they have a hostess, and now they have the options. Some restaurants are now splitting their floorplans by concept to reach a broader audience. One kitchen and seating area might be dedicated to seafood, while the other serves steak. The idea is to be the go-to for all occasions. Turn left for pizza, turn right for tacos.

You are what you eat | Health on full display

There is no question that healthy eating has become a priority for Americans. Many new restaurant concepts are making it their mission to prove that while, yes, healthy food is good for the body, it can also be delicious and fast. I’ve visited a few, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t take a few menus home to recreate the dish.

With three months left in the year, I’m already getting excited about 2017’s restaurant rule breakers. What concepts are changing the game in your neighborhood? Give them a shout out below and tell us what sets them apart.

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