If you’re looking to bring vegetables to the center of the dinner plate at your restaurant, the language you use on your menu plays a big role. That’s according to the Culinary Institute of America, which recently studied how consumers respond to vegetables on the menu. FSR reports that restaurant guests want to cut back on meat and are receptive to eating more vegetables. But guests were less apt to miss a large serving of meat on their plates if the menu didn’t stress the vegetable-forward direction of the dish. In other words, if your restaurant is a traditional one, a “stealth health” approach may generate better results.
Beware the grocerant
Supermarkets that offer restaurant-quality, chef-prepared foods are luring Millennials who might otherwise dine in restaurants, according to a new study from NPD Group. The study found that in-store dining and take-out from these “grocerants” has jumped 30 percent since 2008. The segment was responsible for $10 billion in consumer spending last year. Millennials use grocery stores less than other age groups (more than 40 percent of the U.S. population purchases prepared food in grocery stores) but these stores are giving Millennials more reasons to consider them.
An end to the cap on credit card fees?
Some members of Congress are angling to end limits on the credit card fees that were capped six years ago in the Durbin amendment of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. Two Texas Congressmen have introduced the idea – one in a formal repeal proposal and the other in a draft bill circulated to colleagues. Restaurant Business reports the lawmakers argued that the banks are aggressively charging fees to consumers to compensate for the money they lost when caps were set on the processing fees that could be charged to merchants. The measures drew a sharp rebuke from the Merchant Payments Coalition, of which the National Restaurant Association is part.
New obesity studies keep restaurants on alert
New reports from the CDC indicate obesity rates are continuing to climb – and medical groups are considering how restaurants can change that. Restaurant Hospitality reports that one of the ideas the American Medical Association is considering is increasing scrutiny of independent and small chain restaurant menu offerings and shrinking portions at restaurants overall. This comes in the midst of the rollout of the new menu labeling standards for large chains. Those standards will be enforced in May of next year but some studies have already found that menu transparency has little net impact on what people order and eat.
Screen out smell-inducing bacteria
Summer heat and humidity can bring out some unpleasant smells in your facility. Restaurant Hospitality recommends you zero in on several problem areas: In the kitchen, clean and inspect drains to prevent bacteria buildup. Launder dirty kitchen rags, linens and employee uniforms frequently.Consider using air fresheners and urinal mats in bathrooms.Deep-clean carpets to remove mildew, allergens and other bacteria. Use a reputable floor mat service to supply and clean entrance mats regularly. Have air conditioning units cleaned to remove dirt, mold and bacteria on coils, drain pans and filters. Lastly, use microfiber cloths, mops and dusters.
Fruit fly-proof your kitchen
It’s summertime and fruit flies are moving in. Restaurant Owner recommends taking these steps to rid yourself of the pests: Clean your drains several times a week with a drain brush at the end of the day. Use a hose with scalding water to rinse them. Fruit flies like to breed under counters, cabinets and sinks, so clean those areas with soap and water, thenbleach them. If a container of produce is attracting the flies, you can try placing a sponge soaked with lavender oil nearby. Finally, if you fill a small bowl with vinegar and a drop of dishwashing soap, then cover it with foil that you perforate with small holes, the flies will crawl in and won’t be able to get out.
More gray area between quick-service and fast-casual brands
The lines between quick-service and fast-casual restaurants are starting to blur, according to a Technomic study. Breakfast is big across the board. Quick-service brands are adding natural, premium options and upgrading their dining atmosphere (Taco Bell has even created four different interior designs based on a restaurant’s location and demographics). Some QSRs are making meal options and beverages more customizable as well. You may start to see more fast-casual brands introduce combo deals – once the territory of QSRs.
Closed during the day, yet open for business?
If you operate a restaurant that is open during the evening only, take note of this idea. Spacious, a startup company in New York City, is aligning with some of the more than 2000 restaurants in the city that are closed during the day and offering them for a fee to freelancers and other people looking for a space to work. In a report in Business Insider, the company’s founder said he is proposing restaurant workspaces as alternatives to crowded coffee shops for the many people in the city who need a place to work and don’t have office space.Spacious charges $95 per month for unlimited access to all of its locations and $29 for a day pass. A portion of monthly profits goes to the participating restaurants.
Inside Generation Z
If the Millennial mindset isn’t forward-thinking enough for you, note some new research that shines a spotlight on the group coming up behind them. Restaurant Business says Generation Z, those born in 1998 or later, is a bit different from Millennials. For one, Gen Z-ers are “supertasters” – more interested in trying bold and unusual flavors, according to Dawn Aubrey, a panelist at the recent Chef Culinary Conference at the University of Massachusetts. They’re engaged in food and have access to a wide range of tastes. Nearly half of Gen Z is non-white, so food will need to reflect that diversity. They grew up caring about animal welfare, sustainability and fair labor practices – perhaps even more so than their immediate predecessors. Finally, their attention spans are shorter, so keep that in mind when both marketing to them and training them to be part of your staff.
Restaurant operators weigh in on their top tech interests
What are the top reasons restaurant operators are embracing technology? According to the recent American Express Restaurant Trade Survey, they want access to customer feedback (64%), more efficient day-to-day operations (63%) and the ability to identify costs and overhead (58%). The top technologies operators are looking to implement are mobile payments (48%), online reservations (38%), on-demand food delivery (37%) and digital menus (37%). The survey includes responses from more than 500 randomly chosen restaurant operators from around the U.S.