More custom drinks, management openings on tap for restaurants in 2019

Year in and year out, employees in the restaurant industry are among the most highly thought of workers in America. Whether it's baristas' friendly faces in coffee shops, or executive chefs who customize orders to guests' exacting specifications, diners appreciate the little things eateries do for them, and management is happy to oblige.

In 2019, restaurateurs plan to expand their menu offerings - and glad tidings - a bit further, providing fresh opportunities to turn every-so-often guests into regulars, as well as additional employment openings in a variety of positions, management included.

More restaurants going local for beverages
According to a newly released poll conducted by the National Restaurant Association, beverages are a priority for fine dining, bars and several other restaurant facilities next year. In particular, businesses are focusing on producing and procuring craft, artisan and locally produced drinks, wines and spirits chief among them.

Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of research at the Association , indicated beverages are big for dining facilities, as an increasing number of people visit restaurants almost exclusively for their libations.

"Offering craft liquors, wines, and other beverages, allows restaurants to distinguish their drink programs from their competitors," Riehle explained. "At the same time, putting a more local, sustainable spin on beverages is particularly appealing to millennials, who, in general, are more apt to support smaller, different, more socially responsible businesses and products."

Of the 650 chefs and restaurant management professionals who responded to the poll, close to two-thirds said artisan, craft and locally made spirits would be the top beverage trend in 2019 among alcoholic types. Additionally, nearly 60 percent of respondents pointed to these drinks - including wine and beer - as being likely to maintain their popularity throughout the new year.

More restaurants indicate spirits will be a top trend for customers in 2019. More restaurants indicate spirits will be a top trend for customers in 2019.

More openings in restaurant management
The growth in menu offerings should yield more business opportunities for restaurants. But it should also result in additional employment growth for restaurateurs, particularly on the management side of things. From employee recruitment specialists to procurement representatives - charged, in part, with obtaining the appropriate equipment and agreements with local craft and wine vendors to expand menus - restaurateurs appear to be in good shape heading into 2019 after a strong 2018. The industry added over 204,000 jobs through October, according to the National Restaurant Association, the most recent month for which data is available.

By prioritizing customer service and increasing menu items, restaurants seek to build upon last year's successes. The industry was among the top three for Americans in 2018 in terms of overall sentiment. Fifty-eight percent of respondents had a favorable view of dining establishments, according to a Gallup poll conducted in September

Craft beer is one of several beverage types that restaurants are prioritizing in 2019.