Most parents’ enjoyment of a restaurant is directly proportional to the happiness of the children accompanying them. In fact, Datassential’s MenuTrends Keynote Report found that 93 percent of parents consider their kids’ preferences when selecting a restaurant. So why not offer a children’s menu that brings people through the door and keeps them satisfied? A number of national restaurant brands, including IHOP, Panera and others, now offer healthier beverages for kids, and some even offer sophisticated fare that aims to make healthy options like black beans and kale more accessible to kids. But while eight out of 10 operators surveyed said families were important to driving repeat visits, only three in 10 actively market to families – and may need help in promoting themselves to both parents and kids.
NRA Show trends to watch
The recent NRA Show provided ample food for thought for industry trend spotters. Among this year’s trends, according to Nation’s Restaurant News: Flavors turned up in unexpected places – think absinthe-flavored salami and vegetable-infused cheeses. Guava may be the flavor to watch, as it was a key ingredient in not just in punch but in empanadas and sorbet as well. In beverages, sparkling tea made a case for itself as a new beverage category, matcha tea built on its momentum as the drink of choice for the health-conscious, and craft soda offered new flavors like Jamaica Blood Orange, as well as options with fewer calories and natural sweeteners. Many brands touted what was in their foods (like cage-free eggs) and what was not (gluten, allergens, hormones).
Former Costco employees stage an organic coup with new restaurant concept
Could organic quick-service restaurants soon be sprouting up across the country just as Costco stores dot the landscape? The Organic Coup, a northern California quick-service restaurant, has a lot of Costco in its DNA. Its cofounders worked for the retailer and claim their restaurant, in the mold of Costco, has a highly scalable model. Costco’s cofounder and former CEO has invested millions in the restaurant concept, according to Eater, and the retailer’s current CFO has provided financial backing as well. The restaurant has plans in development for urban and suburban locations.
Restaurant execs share their career preferences
Executive search firm Bristol Associates surveyed restaurant executives to spot trends in their career preferences by restaurant segment. When respondents were asked to consider their preferred segment and rank four factors about it – company culture, compensation and benefits, growth opportunities and quality of food – compensation was not the most important factor for any group. Instead, opportunity for growth was ranked the most important factor by respondents whose preferred segments were fast-casual and quick-service. That was the least important factor for respondents who preferred the casual dining and fine dining segments. In casual dining, respondents ranked company culture most highly and in fine dining, quality of food came out on top. Fine-dining execs were most satisfied to stay in their segment (86 percent) while only 24 percent of respondents in quick-service wanted to remain there.
Sustainability was a big buzz word at the recent NRA Show in Chicago as a number of companies demonstrated how efforts to minimize waste and conserve resources can also save money. Several new technologies that were on display can help restaurant operators track their inventory (saving 2 to 6 percent on costs in the process) as well as their water and energy usage so they can operate more efficiently. If you’re ready to jump on board, the National Restaurant Association’s ConServe Program provides information on highlights from the NRA Show, along with tips on low-cost ways to boost your restaurant’s sustainability efforts.
Keep pests away as the weather warms up
Unwanted guests are clamoring to eat at your restaurant this summer. Flies spread bacteria and can thwart your best efforts to keep food safe – and because they thrive in unsanitary conditions, they may imply you have bigger health violations to hide. Ants, though not a safety risk, can be difficult to eliminate after an infestation. To keep pests away, Restaurant Hospitality recommends you clean trash containers, drains, drain traps and floors regularly. Outside, keep dumpsters away from the building with lids closed. Inspect incoming food shipments for fly activity and regularly rotate produce to maintain freshness and eliminate moisture. Consider hiring an HVAC professional to ensure you have more air flowing out of your restaurant than in. Installing air curtains at entrances can also provide invisible barriers flies can’t breach. Keep vegetation trimmed back two feet from your building and choose plants that repel ants, and seal any cracks or holes that provide easy entry points.
Carelessness over food safety results in jail sentence
A restaurant owner in the U.K. is paying the price for swapping an expensive ingredient for a cheaper one that killed an allergy sufferer. On a number of occasions up to that point, Mohammed Zaman, the owner, used a nut blend that contained peanuts instead of a more expensive almond powder in his dishes, despite repeated warnings about committing these offenses. Food Safety News reports that Zaman had owned six restaurants and won accolades from the British Catering Association and British Curry Awards. He was found guilty of manslaughter by gross negligence in the death of his customer and sentence to six years in prison.
New study exposes risks of antibacterial soap
If you use antibacterial soap in your restaurant, take notice: Time magazine reports that new research published in the journal PLOS ONE has linked triclosan, a key ingredient in antibacterial products, to hormone disruption and resistance to helpful bacteria, conditions that could contribute to a variety of diseases. The FDA had deemed triclosan safe but is now reviewing its finding in light of the new research. A separate study published in the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy last fall found that antibacterial cleansers don’t kill more bacteria than soap and water.
Software helps restaurants transition to new FDA regulations
The FDA’s new nutritional regulations for restaurants take effect next May. Do you need help getting ready? The My Meal, My Way Nutrition Calculator, a new software product from Trabon, promises to provide restaurants with a seamless transition to the new regulations. QSRweb reports that the calculator offers guests 11 data points about their food, including calories, fat, sugar and sodium. The interface makes it possible for guests to add or subtract ingredients – and for chefs to modify dishes to meet guests’ dietary needs – all while continuing to track the nutritional data of the final dish.
Are you cybersecure?
A cybersecurity breach could be just as devastating to a brand as a foodborne illness outbreak. That’s according to the National Restaurant Association’s David Matthews, executive vice president and general counsel. Restaurants must protect not just customers’ payment information but their home addresses, email addresses and birthdays. What’s more, mobile payments have complicated the issue for restaurants – those that are not EMV-enabled are now responsible for the charges from stolen customer data. Review the National Restaurant Association’s cybersecurity guide to ensure your protections are up to date.