The Newest Restaurant and Bar Themes of 2022

menu boards

As the restaurant industry continues to rebound, new concepts have been emerging in the market. While there are broad restaurant and bar themes that any brand can leverage, some restaurants and bars have cultivated unparalleled experiences at the core of the brands themselves.

If you’re developing a new restaurant concept, consider these popular current themes of cocktails bars and restaurants.

Artful Bars

There are many ways to approach coming up with a distinct bar, but tiki bars are perhaps one of the most common. Tiki bars have been around for a long time, but with the popularity of social media and people’s urge to photograph distinct venues and experiences, their eminence has received a bit of a boost.

People think of tiki bars in different ways: kitschy throwbacks to another time, fun hangouts with tasty tropical drinks, or simply a tribute to that sweet island life. But there’s more to these tropical lounges than just good times and great beverages. Many boast a rich history with modern flare.

As an example, Strong Water in Anaheim has recently emerged as a must-visit Orange County hot spot. This reservation-only experience begins from the moment you walk in the door. When you enter Strong Water Anaheim, you will find yourself walking into the wreckage of the Clementine lost at sea in 1884. A guide fills you in on the ship’s sinking and history as you’re walked to your table.

The Anaheim tiki bar offers goods to go, like some of their signature tiki glasses and mugs, t-shirts, and more. The menu itself opens with map then is broken out by ship-related themes covering 15 pages of craft cocktails and snacks. Strong Water truly offers a unique experience in the city that’s home to Disneyland and is known for more traditional, family-friendly fare.

Hybrid Restaurants

Another trend dominating the restaurant space is hybrid business models. We’ve begun to see a lot more one-stop-shops of retail and restaurant concepts. There are a few different ways to approach this. One is to integrate a retail shop within your establishment itself.

One brand that has done this well is Moulin, an authentic Parisian café with locations throughout Southern California. In addition to being able to order meals and traditional Parisian breakfast and lunch fare to enjoy inside or on the European-style patio, guests can shop for a variety of wines, meats, cheeses, desserts, and more to take to-go.

Another approach is to sell branded retail items outside the restaurants themselves. For example, fast-casual restaurant chain Wao Bao recently expanded as a virtual brand. They launched 50 kiosks in hospitals, hotels, airports, and other nontraditional locations.

In partnership with Automated Retail Technologies (ART), these kiosks offer a selection of dumplings that are refrigerated and cooked to order. This is an authentic approach to reaching a new audience where they are.

A conceptually similar trend that has risen in the past couple years is ghost kitchens. Ghost kitchens, also called virtual kitchens, are the next iteration of food delivery looking to profit from the growing love of food brought to our doors. Unlike DoorDash and other third-party delivery apps, ghost kitchens have both their own delivery drivers and kitchens for food intended for delivery only.

Ghost kitchens are beneficial because there’s reduced overhead costs and the flexibility of being able to develop a new concept based on consumer demand. Many traditional brands have leveraged ghost kitchens to expand. For example, Guy Fieri launched ‘Guy Fieri’s Flavortown Kitchen’, a concept of themed-ghost kitchens spread through the U.S. He partnered with locals in various locations to cook and sell his famous products in new markets.

Wrapping Up

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the opportunities available to bars and restaurant owners in 2022. The landscape continues to evolve and it’s critical to stay on top of emerging trends like these. How will your restaurant or bar stand out?