In keeping with Eater tradition, our closeout of the year is a survey of friends, industry types, and bloggers. To kick it off in the Carolinas, Eater asked the group seven questions, ranging from the restaurants they frequented for takeout to the saddest surprises of the year. Responses are in no particular order, and readers are encouraged to leave answers in the comments.
Q. What are your headline predictions for 2022?
Hanna Raskin, editor and publisher of The Food Section
“Comfortable that rich white diners no longer care, restaurants and food brands quietly scrap their DEI plans” (Who says reporters are cynical?)
Matt Lardie, freelance writer and Eater Carolinas contributor, covering NC
I think you will continue to see some of the biggest name chefs hunkering down and focusing on smaller projects rather than the rapid expansion of “brands” we saw before the pandemic. Staffing will continue to be an issue, and high prices are here to stay (I would argue that they were too cheap pre-pandemic anyways), but those restaurants who have figured out how to balance that will likely still thrive. Outdoor dining is here to stay, thank god.
KJ Kearney, founder of Black Food Fridays
“Where Did All Of These Black Owned Bakeries Come From?!”
Jenn Rice, freelance writer and Eater Carolinas contributor, covering NC
Through the pandemic, the diner learns that you can’t always have it your way. Wishful thinking but hoping there’s a silver lining tucked away where diners realize how insane it is to run a restaurant, to begin with, let alone during a pandemic. A little more grace, please.
Eric Ginsburg, independent journalist and Eater Carolinas contributor, covering NC
Outdoor dining is here to stay, and that’s a good thing. More and more of North Carolina’s most compelling restaurants will open in smaller towns instead of the biggest cities.
Dave Infante, editor of Fingers, an independent newsletter about drinking in America
The city of Charleston and the state of South Carolina will continue to abdicate their responsibility to keep citizens safe out of blind fealty to the business community, which will ironically hurt restaurants more than it helps.
Kenneth Andrews, Eater Carolinas contributor
I think we’re going to keep seeing Charleston restaurants opening new locations around the southeast and beyond. We’ve had so many grow in the last few years, and I don’t see that changing any time soon.
Sam Spence, Editor of Charleston City Paper
Get ready for big or small. Restaurant groups playing catch-up will pop bottles to open big dining rooms with big menus and a dozen food runners. The brave chef-owners will cautiously crack the doors on modest dining rooms with pared-back plates of curated offerings. Either way, enjoy.
Jacob Pucci, food and dining reporter for The Fayetteville Observer
More exciting restaurants opening in the smaller towns and cities surrounding the immediate Triangle as more folks move into the area. Or “Wegmans opens 10 new locations in North Carolina” A native Upstate New Yorker can dream, right?
Erin Perkins, editor Eater Carolinas
“Customers Finally Learn That Restaurant Staff Are Real People With Really Difficult Jobs”
Barbara Skidmore, Eater Carolinas contributor, covering SC and Savannah
Supply chain issues continue to force restaurants to change and adapt menus.
Melissa Howsam, editor-in-chief Raleigh Magazine
Hospitality industry rises like a phoenix and overcomes; More creative outdoor dining spaces and ghost kitchen concepts will emerge
Cele and Lynn Seldon, Seldon Ink
Even more year-round outdoor dining.