Summer fun is here, and it’s an opportunity to roll out a few new items. Limited-time offers create excitement and can increase foot traffic. Take a look at top summer trends we’re seeing this season and how you might be able to include them in your menus.

Curry for All

Curry is more than just a trend. It’s a cultural food popular in many South Asian countries referring to dishes that are seasoned with a mix of spices, combined to make a sauce. In the U.S., Japanese curry (a thicker, saucy curry) and laksa (a rice noodle coconut curry from Malaysia) are having a moment. Look for ways to include these flavors on your menu if it makes sense for your brand or consider offering them for a limited time to drive interest.

Garden Cocktails

It’s nothing new to see fruit used in cocktails, but lately we’ve noticed a trend toward including fresh and pickled vegetables in cocktails as well, and it’s particularly well-timed for summer menus when produce is at its peak. Consider harnessing the heat of jalapenos and the zing of tomatillos in smoky mezcal cocktails (another beverage trend); include fresh heirloom tomatoes in your Bloody Mary’s for brunch; or pair lemon cucumbers with gin to play up the botanical notes.

Updated Nostalgia Foods

In the wake of the pandemic, nostalgia has been extremely popular in every category of commerce, especially food. Foods that recall the 80s and 90s are seeing a renewed interest, but rather than serving up dishes just as they were made 30 years ago, creative chefs are putting their own spin on things, combining other trending elements like functional ingredients, plant-based eating, and international flavors such as ube, pandan, and yuzu. Develop LTOs that include a nod to the past with an eye on the future and tap into this timely trend.

Throwback Cocktails, Revived

Just like in the food world, the cocktail crowd is going back to the classics, with a twist. Update your current cocktail menu with special limited time cocktails that start with vintage recipes and include modern ingredients or techniques. Take a drink like the Tom Collins—a simple combination of gin, lemon, simple syrup, and club soda—and update it with fresh summer cherries or cucumbers for something unique and buzz-worthy.

BBQ Goes Plant-Based

According to reports, plant-based foods can now be found in nearly half of U.S. restaurants, and the presence of plant-based alternatives on menus has increased by more than 60% overall, a number that has grown consistently over the past decade with no signs of slowing.

BBQ is one of the best parts of the summer, so you know you’ll probably want to feature some smoke and heat somewhere on your summer menu. Why not combine it with another trend—plant-based cuisine? Ingredients like mushrooms, squash, and jackfruit lend themselves exceptionally well to the barbecue treatment.

It’s Always Snack Time

In our opinion, snacks will always be on trend, but especially right now, snack foods are very popular with consumers, in some cases replacing entire meals. According to reports, almost half of consumers are replacing breakfast with a snack, while half are replacing lunch with a snack. And more than a third of consumers say they eat three meals a day with a few snacks between meals.

For that reason, it’s smart to include snack options that can be enjoyed on-site and to-go. Create a special menu of snacks that highlight summer ingredients like tomatoes, peppers, and watermelon—refreshing quick bites that can be shared and/or eaten on the go, while being cost-effective and easy on labor. Emphasize the limited availability and seasonality of this menu in your communications with guests.

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