The rise in tech-driven restaurant delivery services looks set to continue in to 2016 as consumer appetite grows for chef-made meals delivered to homes, offices and hotels on-demand.
London saw a boom in such services in 2015, with the launch of Michelin-starred delivery service Supper , ‘online restaurant’ EatFirst planning to expand worldwide and Pizza Express announcing its first delivery service in the capital.
Deliveroo has now expanded to 32 UK cities and raised over £130m to continue growing worldwide.
So what does 2016 hold for the virtual drive-thru?
Accountancy firm BDO has predicted a surge in tech-led restaurant delivery services over the next two years.
Meanwhile Allan Pickett, chef patron at Piquet, warned restaurants to stay ahead of the trend.
“Delivery from top end restaurants is set to boom in 2016 and restaurants will need to keep up with the current technology available to make it happen,” he said.
In October New York restaurateur Danny Meyer announced a ban on tipping across his Union Square Hospitality Group – which employs some 1,800 people. But could the practice spread across the pond?
UK restaurants hit the headlines in 2015 after chains including Pizza Express, Café Rouge and ASK Italian came under fire for taking a percentage of staff tips as an administration charge.
Following a surge of bad press the Government launched an inquiry to consider tightening laws around the proportion of tips businesses can withhold from staff. So could tipping be on the out?
While it seems unlikely, a Government verdict on the practice is expected early this year.
The British Hospitality Association has called for a new law forcing businesses to be completely transparent about how tips are distributed. However, The Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) has warned politicians to avoid a knee-jerk reaction to ‘inflammatory’ media reports of bad tipping practice.
Caffeine addicted Brits are expected to see the UK’s coffee shop market valued at over £15bn by 2020.
But customers tastes are changing with research from Allegra predicting a rise in ‘artisan’ concepts – such as the recently announced Costa Fresco brand – to cater for an increasingly coffee-savvy consumer.
“Quality coffee is becoming more and more accessible online as discerning customers seek premium taste, provenance and quality,” said Chris Jennings, owner of Purssells London.
“The taste for espresso, rather than syrup-sweetened or milk-based coffee drinks, will grow throughout 2016 and similarly coffee-based cocktails will offer a more grown-up way to imbibe!”
Wages vs prices
With the higher National Living Wage coming in to force in 2016, eating out could begin to get more expensive as restaurants attempt to cover rising wage bills.
From April all businesses will have to pay staff at least £7.20 per hour, a 50p rise on the current minimum rate.
Hospitality groups including Whitbread - which owns Costa and Premier Inn - have warned that customers could face a hike in prices following the change.
Meanwhile Mitchells & Butlers - which owns All Bar One, Browns and Harvester - has said it will aim to increase consumer spending through 'tactical price opportunities' across its bars and restaurants, encouraging diners to 'trade-up' to a more premium menu.