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The year 2020 is just seven years away, and if we judge what's to come by the speed of change in the past seven years, the pace of technological and social transformation will only accelerate. Technology will drive global, traceable sourcing; faster food service; efficient kitchens; and real-time customer relationship management and marketing via mobile devices. Changing consumer expectations and behaviors will drive restaurants to meet shifting needs with re-imagined styles of service, menu offerings, pricing and targeted messaging.

NRN developed this special report as an operator's guide to the year 2020 — a time when restaurant businesses will need to be better, not bigger; smarter, not faster. More than 25 unique sources were tapped to help build looks at consumers, restaurant design and menu trends.

The Restaurant The Consumer The Menu

The Restaurant. By 2020 restaurant architecture and design will embody both high-tech advancements and low-tech hospitality. Lines between industry segments will blur further, and operators’ efforts to reduce costs and cut waste will intensify.

The Consumer. Today’s restaurateurs are paying close attention to the spending habits of Millennials and baby boomers, and those consumers will still be the most influential diners in 2020 — albeit a bit more grown up. Meet two consumers of 2020 with very different characteristics.

The Menu.Want customers to look at your menu? There’s an app for that — and there will be more of them in 2020. Patrons will grow increasingly used to customizing their own food in their own hands as they search for new food trends, nutritional information or allergy warnings.