In the restaurant business, what happens in California often spreads across the nation. So it’s worth noting these recent changes to the state’s labor laws:
- The minimum wage increased to $10 and select cities elevated their minimum wage above that threshold.
- Businesses with 50 or more full-time employees must offer essential healthcare coverage that those employees can afford – or risk having to pay a penalty to the IRS.
- The state’s equal pay law now provides broader coverage than the federal Equal Pay Act and demands more of employers.
- Employees can take kin care leave to care for a member of their extended family.
- Employers are prohibited from misusing E-Verify (i.e. they can’t check the employment authorization status of existing employees or of job applicants who haven’t received an employment offer).
Consumers like their salad – and it could be a big business draw for you as well, according to the latest research from Technomic. Two in five consumers strongly agreed that they frequent certain restaurants because they enjoy their salads. The current trend of customization applies to salad as well. Just over half of the respondents strongly agreed they would like more restaurants to offer a salad bar so they could create their own salads. Salad is ordered most frequently at quick-service restaurants and almost half of those surveyed eat salad there at least once a month. Finally, a salad can be a gateway to other parts of your menu: 36% of respondents strongly agreed that if they order salad as an entrée, they are more likely to indulge in other parts of their meal.
Beverages for a healthy body
Creative beverages are adding diversity to menus this year and they have a key quality in common: they’ll leave guests feeling fine the next morning. Just as consumers demand transparency in the foods they eat, they prefer it in their beverages too. Restaurants are responding with drinks containing natural ingredients that add healthful flavor without fat or sugar. Some options popping up on menus are ginger-flavored drinks, Omega-3-infused drinks, smoothies and pulses that incorporate vegetables, quinoa, chick peas, nuts and other nutritious staples, and vinegar-based beverages that claim to help manage weight, blood pressure and digestion. Even session cocktails, drinks with low alcohol content, are now trendy in cities across the U.S.
Consumers weigh in on their top quick-service brands
Who’s got the best quick-service restaurant brand? Last year it was Subway. Every day, YouGov BrandIndex tracks consumers’ perceptions of about 1,400 brands then tabulates an average score for the year. Subway came out on top in 2015, despite its public relations woes related to its former spokesman, Jared Fogle. Next in line were Wendy’s, Chick-fil-A, Pizza Hut and Sonic. In a report in QSR, YouGov BrandIndex CEO Tom Marzilli said the index asks consumers to consider the messages they absorb from advertising, the news, word of mouth, and conversations with friends and family.
How Detroit is creating a restaurant scene
It may be one of the poorest cities in the U.S. but it’s going through a culinary revolution. Detroit, according to the Washington Post, has taken good advantage of low housing prices, government bailouts and a boost in urban farming to create a food destination. Some of the popular emerging players in the city’s restaurant scene have a community mentality – one outlet, Rose’s Fine Food, opened with a Kickstarter-funded launch, pays its employees a living wage of $10 an hour, and offers 10% discounts to customers who live within a mile of the restaurant. Like Pittsburgh, Detroit has been luring top chefs from New York and Chicago who want to start new ventures on the cheap, so there’s likely more to come from the Motor City in the months ahead.
America touts its olive oil renaissance
California may represent just .1% of the global olive oil market but it’s building a loyal following. Grub Street reports that California’s strict regulations of olive oil have helped the state’s producers dodge the controversy European producers have faced. (Studies have suggested that 69% of imported extra-virgin olive oils don’t meet the International Olive Council’s standards.) California Olive Ranch, for example, has won accolades in the media for both the taste of its olive oil and the efficiency of its production. Other growers in the U.S. are just as eager to dethrone established European producers – and they claim their product will soon demonstrate its value to the market, much like California wines did in the 1970s.
Signs of a shift in no-sick-days policy
If two recent news reports are any indication, more restaurants may look to stop the spread of food-borne illness by adjusting their stance on employee sick days. First, Chipotle announced it will begin offering its employees paid sick leave as part of its revamped food-handling procedures. Second, Eater reported that a legislator in Colorado wants to pass a bill that would force restaurants to post a notice on their doors if they do not offer their employees five paid days of sick leave, claiming “most of the major food outbreaks are due to sick employees, not listeria or E.coli."
One cow, 175 million burgers
Meat demand could outpace livestock supply within decades, which has motivated scientists to develop technology to ease any carnivore’s conscience. At the EMTech Asia conference in January, German researchers from Maastricht University unveiled “cultured beef,” which is made by harvesting muscle cells from a living cow. Like the process of growing stem cells in humans, the cow’s cells are grown into muscle tissue, the main component of meat, and are biologically identical to the tissue that comes from a cow, according to a CNBC report about the findings. According to the research, cells taken from one cow could produce 175 million burgers, compared with 440,000 cows to produce the same result. The researchers stressed that their cultured beef does not compare to GMOs and has the potential to enable beef production with 99% less space than is currently needed.
Rev up your high-end business with this incentive
Eager to attract deep-pocketed guests to your restaurant? A number of upscale operators are doing just that by providing an appealing perk: a Tesla charging station. (The price tag on a Tesla electric car starts at more than $100,000.) According to Restaurant Hospitality, the electric vehicle maker is currently expanding its destination charging network, which is designed to give Tesla drivers additional places to charge their vehicles on long trips from home. Restaurants are a key part of the network. Tesla will install two wall-mounted charging stations for free on a qualifying restaurant’s property as long as they can be placed in visible locations.
Quick-serve kiosks boost business
QSRweb calls quick-serve kiosks the next game-changing technology in the industry. These kiosks are changing both the sit-down and drive-through experiences at quick-service restaurants. At newly refurbished McDonald’s outlets in the U.K., for example, guests sit down, tap their food preferences into the kiosk at their table and then wait for their meals to arrive. The touchscreen kiosks can display a wide array of menu items and modifications – more than a traditional in-restaurant or drive-through menu can. They can provide cost savings as well (since they require less human interaction) and can elevate check totals (since they can be programmed to upsell options that the customer might not know about). And of course, millennials love them.