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6 things that every restaurant will be doing differently by 2021

Restaurants of the future: by 2021, we expect students preferences to influence the dining experience offered

At Student Beans, we work with restaurants including ChipotleBelgo and Planet Hollywood to offer students around the world the best deals on the food they love. Plus, we love to eat out and try new restaurants ourselves, so we make it our mission to know all about the trends and innovations that are changing the food industry. Here are six things we believe will be at the core of future restaurants by 2021.

Easy payments

By 2021, we can expect that all restaurants will offer contactless payment and ‘cash only’ will be a thing of the past – even in cafes, bars and markets. Our Student Shopping Report revealed that 64% of students in the UK prefer to pay for a meal out by card, and within that group, they favoured contactless payment over chip and pin. Since then, COVID-19 guidelines have led to cashless payments becoming the norm. Some analysts even believe the pandemic has accelerated the shift towards an entirely cashless society.

Experiential dining

The future of dining is experiential. This follows on from one of the biggest trends in physical retail, and it is also affecting the restaurant industry. Experiential dining describes a unique restaurant experience, which could mean anything from quirky decor to unusual dishes and extra entertainment and activities. These restaurants often achieve word of mouth popularity and social media virality. Examples range from the Cereal Killer Café to Archipelago.


Our research has shown that students love trying out new food trends, from ramen burgers to bubble waffles. They are adventurous with food, and quirky dishes make ideal Instagram posts. Restaurants need to move with the times to avoid becoming outdated as tastes change. Therefore, we should expect to see more restaurants incorporating trending foods into their menus, and using these new additions to market to a young audience.

Radical transparency

Clean eating and veganism are huge trends among young consumers, but this isn’t driven solely by a desire to be healthy. Student food trends show that students still love the less wholesome treats like chocolate and burgers. What does affect their purchasing decisions is how the food was made and where it came from. We can expect to see increased transparency on restaurant menus in future, including detailed information on ingredients and sourcing.

Something for everyone

The restaurant of the future needs to be inclusive. Offering a few non-meat dishes for the veggies is no longer enough. Restaurants are increasingly expected to cater for all dietary requirements, from gluten and dairy-free, to halal and kosher. In a diverse, multicultural society, with a growing interest in healthy eating and environmental issues, catering to these groups is crucial. By 2020, most restaurants will have a variety of options for any dietary requirement, and any that don’t will seem very outdated.

Serve the student

More food brands than ever are recognising the value of the student market, which includes over 4 million people in the UK alone. As a group that loves to socialise, try new foods and be first to check out new venues, getting students on board is key to any restaurant’s marketing strategy. And what better way to attract students to your restaurant and make them feel extra welcome than to offer a discount, especially for them?

Click here to find out more about partnering with Student Beans to increase your brand’s student revenue.

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