Six Hot Restaurant Trends in 2013

The Restaurant Industry 2020 report listed 25 sure industry developments by 2020. Here are six trends showing up in Greater Des Moines, according to Jessica Dunker, president and CEO of the Iowa Restaurant Association. 

New competition for restaurants: 
Dunker cites the restaurants in the new Hy-Vees
and at Whole Foods as an example. Even
convenience stores are offering a larger line of
fresh foods and hot foods. 

Calories be damned; we still want comfort foods:
The rapid growth of Jethro’s BBQ, Zombie Burger + Drink Lab’s popularity and the growing number of
restaurants with gourmet macaroni and cheese entrees are examples of the trend locally, said Dunker.

But we also want to eat healthy: 
“We’re seeing people choose restaurants based on dietary trends,” said Paul Rottenberg, president of 
Orchestrate Hospitality, which operates restaurants such as Centro, Django, Raccoon River Brewing Co. 
and Zombie Burger. Example: Vegan dishes, rarely available three years ago, are common today, and 
vegetarian dishes are sophisticated beyond steamed vegetables or a pasta entree.   

Better make use of mobile technology:
Customers increasingly make dining decisions on the go. “What you don’t want when you’re on mobile
device is have it take forever to load or when it does pop up  have it sized correctly,” said Dunker, who said
restaurateurs are becoming more sophisticated about mobile applications. 

Government mandated food-safety training for all:
Iowa is adopting new regulations on food safety. Beginning in 2014, every restaurant will have to have a 
certified food safety manager onsite, in part to prevent food-borne illnesses, said Dunker.  “This is a strong 
and positive step,” she said. 

Takeout containers will become more green:
Although they don’t look different, every takeout container at Big City Burgers and Greens is biodegradable. 

There’s money in Burgers

Want to dramatically increase your business? Get your burger voted onto the Iowa Beef Industry Council’s list of best hamburgers in the state. 

“Its been absolutely amazing how Iowans have followed this, and they really go around and try all these burgers,” said Michelle Baumhover, the council’s director of consumer marketing. “Those folks who make that top 10 do see an increase in business.”

The four-year-old contest has been so successful that beef industry groups in other states have started similar competitions. Diners and hamburger fans can nominate their favorite burgers. The top 10 on the list are then evaluated (secretly) by a panel of judges who taste the burgers and judge them on juiciness, flavor and whether they are cooked properly. Jessica Dunker, president and CEO of the Iowa Restaurant Association, said the owner of JB’s Bar & Grill in tiny Marcus, Iowa, saw her business double after she made this year’s list. 

2013 Best Iowa Burgers
1. Chop House, Mediapolis
2. JB’s Bar & Grill, Marcus
3. Ankeny Diner, Ankeny
4. Rosco’s, Norwalk
5. B & B Grocery, Meat & Deli, Des Moines
6. Sam’s Sodas and Sandwiches, Carroll
7. Elm’s Club, Creston
8. The Ritz, Arnolds Park
9. First Street Grille, Keosauqua
10. Zombie Burger + Drink Lab, Des Moines

By the Numbers: Iowa's Restaurants

9% - Percentage of employed Iowans who work in the restaurant or food service business.

10,000 jobs - Projected yearly growth of Iowa restaurant jobs.

$3.5 billion - Projected sales for Iowa restaurants in 2013.

25% - Percentage of restaurant operators nationally who said in July that they plan to increase staffing in 2013.

Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics and the National Restaurant Association’s July Tracking Survey