It is as predictable as the New Year itself – something different on the foodservice horizon. According to the prognosticators at restaurant consulting firm Baum + Whiteman, customer-facing technology will enter a new phase as a primary means for customers to place their orders. Not only is there a certain cachet about face recognition software that already knows what you are drinking, the new technology will increase restaurant efficiencies and profits. Another means to improved operations is the rise in selling dinner tickets rather than taking reservations. For the customer, it guarantees a table. For the restaurant, it guarantees a customer and helps the kitchen and bar to order and cook with less excess inventory. Pricing at restaurants could also vary depending upon demand. Go at a popular time, you pay a bit more, and vice versa. As for food selections, they are changing as well. Thanks to reseeded oyster beds along the Atlantic coast, more of those delicacies will be available at lower prices in 2015. You can also wash those mollusks down with any number of inventive new alcoholic cocktails and nonalcoholic drinks. And don’t bother with the tie and jacket. More casual fine dining is on the way without all the trappings. Don’t care to dine al fresco because of the insects? How about having them as an entrée instead, especially as environmental sustainability continues to gain momentum. Perhaps a nice cup of espresso is more your style. Now you can sate your taste for java at Ralph Lauren’s or a host of other upscale retailers. If they have their way, more clothiers will begin offering food service this year in direct competition with restaurants, Nation’s Restaurant News is reporting.
More Trendy Dishes For 2015
Five more trends in food are worth a look, reports Restaurant brief.com:
1. Artisan foods that are minimally processed
2. New spicier flavors from root veggies to hummus
3. Hyper-local menu selections and smaller portions
4. Tacos move front and center along with scrambled eggs
5. The return of the basic cheeseburger
In Praise Of The Donut
We love donuts. The fact that we eat 10 billion of the deep-fried pastries needs no more fact-checking than this: Who doesn’t love to sink their teeth into a freshly-fried and glazed donut? So how long have we been doing this? Archeologists have found traces of fried dough as far back as the first Native American tribes thousands of years ago. The Dutch were also famed donut makers and eaters. But the name donut (or dough-nut) is attributed to a New England mother named Elizabeth Gregory, who made these treats for her sea captain son in the 19th century. She may also be the first to provide take out, it seems, Foodservice News reports.
Have Jobs, Please Apply
Restaurant hiring is up in full-service eateries across the U.S. Over the past few years, openings have increased some 23% accounting for 1 in 6 new jobs. Problem is restaurateurs are having troubling finding the right staff, The Sacramento Bee reports. Part of the reason is the increasing hourly wage. Owners want to hire experienced workers, but so does everyone else. It is also increasingly difficult for local restaurants to compete against national brands offering higher wages. There is also the volatile nature of restaurant work. People come and go and owners are reluctant to fork over $30,000 a year for someone with no experience.
Increasing Minimum Wage Also Increasing Prices
Pssssssssst. As if you did not already know this, but the increasing minimum wage is also responsible for raising prices. Case in point is the co-founder of Chicago’s BJ’s Market. New hourly rates for staff are forcing the fledgling restaurateur to increase prices by 20% across the board just to keep the doors open. That is hurting his business and his customers as well, The Chicago Sun Times reports. More on the effects of the new minimum wage – good and bad -- will be reported as the year progresses.
Restaurants Top List For Franchises
It should come as no surprise that restaurants top the list of franchise opportunities once again this year. Top billing goes to Subway, followed by Jack in the Box, Dunkin Donuts, McDonald’s, and KFC rounding out the top five quick-service restaurants. In the fast-casual sector, Jimmy John’s, Firehouse Subs, Jersey Mike’s Subs, Wingstop Restaurants, and Moe’s Southwest Grill fill out the top five. Finally comes pizza, with Pizza Hut, Papa John’s, Papa Murphy’s, Hungry Howies’ Pizza & Subs, and Marco’s are the top five contenders, QSRweb reports.
Marketing Frost Damaged Vegetables
Following some sub-freezing temperatures in California, Ocean Mist Farms is selling its artichokes under something called the Frost Kissed label for a limited time. Reading the accompanying printed material, consumers will learn that the veggies may look damaged, but they actually taste better, The Packer reports.
Food Photos Will Proliferate
When patrons began snapping photos of their dinner, some restaurants got nervous. Is this the beginning of a bad review? Are the pix being sent to a competitor? Or is it just a memorable meal? While all three may be happening, photos will continue to appear on social media, Foodservice News reports. Look at it as free advertising – good, bad, or sometimes downright ugly. It is all part of a new way of doing business, so make the most of it.
Have Kitchen -- Will Travel
Know anyone who needs a portable fully-stocked professional kitchen? Time to call Glenn Therrien Kitchen Corps, a certified disabled veteran–owned company that provides temporary kitchens to those unable to use their normal kitchen due to disasters, renovations, or maybe they happen to be in a war zone. Therrien, a foodservice pro and 20-year veteran, says that word of mouth is his best sales tool. “My wife had 20 years' experience with government contracts, I had foodservice experience, and so we started feeding military troops in remote areas and used a mobile kitchen. However, with the US going to war, the contract was cancelled. In the '90s we had this very expensive mobile kitchen and didn't know what to do with it. So we spent 30 days on the phone calling shipyards, construction companies, hospitals, anyone we could think of that could use a temporary kitchen, and the phone hasn't stopped ringing since.” Want more information? Contact Kitchen Corps at: http://kitchencorps.com/.