Any given year will bring a tally of restaurants that made their debut and a list of those that closed. But there’s always more happening in a restaurant scene than arrivals and departures.

Looking back at another year of food stories from New Orleans can reveal clues of what’s to come, patterns for what endures and questions about what might change. What follows is one take away from a busy, sometimes tumultuous 2017.

First revelations, then conversations, next up....change?

Facing allegations of sexual harassment, John Besh quickly stepped down from his restaurant company. But scrutiny of the same issues in the broader hospitality business has not gone away, and it has only widened as more scandals erupt around the industry.

It’s not hard to find service industry veterans who say the nature of the accusations directed at Besh’s company echo their own experiences elsewhere in the field, and some point to a blend of cultural and institutional factors behind the prevalence.

Many are now discussing issues that were ignored or remained submerged in the past. The exasperated explanation of “that’s just the way it is” in the business has lost its currency.

Scandal roiled another name in New Orleans hospitality, Tales of the Cocktail, after a racially charged social media post made the rounds at carnival time. It led to resignations from the founders of the annual drinks conference, Ann and Paul Tuennerman, and has spurred more questions about diversity and inclusion in the industry.

This feels like the time when what comes next is taking shape. Who will emerge as new leaders in the hospitality field? How will progressive companies handle issues that have been hauled into the open?

These questions are especially vital to New Orleans, which counts hospitality as central to its economy, its draw and its own identity.

For me, one inescapable conclusion from the conversation is how much the so-called norms of the business may have held the business back.

If the talents and contributions of some are muted, if people are driven from the field or feel they don’t have a home in it, then what have we been missing, what potential has gone unrealized?

Beyond the basic question of decency, it brings up the question of an industry’s growth and it doesn’t feel constrained to issues of gender. Who do we hold up for acclaim? How do we calibrate success and showcase opportunity? I’m looking forward to 2018 to explore more answers.

Follow Ian McNulty on Twitter, @IanMcNultyNOLA.