The University of Illinois in Springfield recently opened the state’s first Shop24 automated c-store to rave reviews from students. First week projections were exceeded by more than 40%, Food Management reports. Shop24 is now in 10 states and offers self-contained refrigerated units selling more than 200 items in well-lit, camera-monitored areas that can be located indoors or outdoors. Got the munchies in the middle of the night? Shop24 has you covered. As big as the college campus market is, csnews says that the real growth story for automated c-stores is in major cities around the globe.
Fast Food Restaurants Fare Better On Health Inspections
Quick service restaurants including McDonald’s and Burger King tend to fare better when it comes to health and food safety inspections, philly.com reports. A big part of that story has to do the chains’ near obsession with cleanliness, based on a marketing principle that all of the big name quick service restaurants are dedicated to cleanliness, safety, customer satisfaction…and no surprises. Less touted is the fact that these outlets serve more prepared foods verses preparing entrees from scratch, the report notes. "In terms of fast food, there's not much they can do to screw it up," Don Schaffner, a professor of microbiology at Rutgers University and president of the International Association for Food Protection told philly.com. “The complex processes that can trip up exotic places that make everything from scratch, for example, are missing from these eateries, which are part of how they produce food fast.”
Bring Back Tablecloths
The Millennials are being credited with a lot of dining trends, from snacking to making wine awareness. But tablecloths? That may be the next trend, says InsideScoopSF.com, if young chefs in the Bay Area have anything to say. After banishing tablecloths as old-fashioned, the ubiquitous white tablecloth is making a comeback for a couple of reasons. First they help to dampen the noise in a restaurant. Second, they offer an irresistible sense of class to eateries that many diners are looking for now that they are moving out of their 20s and are interested in more intimate dining experiences.
Veggie Steaks Anyone?
With the price of beef as high as the public’s interest in dining healthy, chefs across the country are experimenting with several different vegetable alternatives to that T-bone you may have ordered. Beet, cauliflower, cabbage, and butternut squash steaks are now headlining menus at some posh New York City restaurants and, according to The New York Daily News, they’re not leaving customers missing meat. In addition to the obvious health benefits of the new meatless dishes, portions sizes are more generous too, The Daily News reports.
Mining Your Own Data
Ever wonder how Amazon and Google seem to always pitch products and services you are interested in? Or Netflix knows the kind of movies you like? It is called Big Data mined from your on-line habits and purchasing experiences. If you are a restaurant owner, you have Big Data of your own to mine in the form of your POS, marketing, accounting, inventory, and scheduling systems. That is the type of information you can leverage and benefit from by using the same predictive analytics and business insights that the big players use. If you are interested in a free guide from The National Restaurant Association, follow this link. http://www.restaurant.org/bigdata. If you are looking for a more personalized approach to making sense of your Big Data, contact Team Four Foodservice.
Best Allergy-aware Restaurant Chain
The Red Robin chain of North American restaurants is considered among the very best when it comes to serving guests with food allergies, FoodManagement.com says. Why? All locations are peanut free. The kitchens are outfitted with allergen kits for food prep, meals are prepared with purple frill picks, the universal indicators for allergen-free foods, and every customer is able to order gluten-free and other allergy-free meals without the staff missing a beat. Employees are also receiving ongoing training both in person and with printed and video materials. Guests, meanwhile, can use interactive menus to literally build any allergy-free combination they wish. Now that is customer service.
Ovation Brands Explore Sale
The nation’s largest chain of buffet restaurants is looking into selling its operations, Business Wire reports. Ovation Brands operates 328 restaurants in 35 states, and its portfolio includes five buffet brands- Ryan’s®, HomeTown® Buffet, Old Country Buffet, Country Buffet®, and Fire® Mountain- and one polished casual brand- Tahoe Joe’s® Famous Steakhouse. The South Carolina-based company employs more than 17,000 workers. According to, the company’s CEO, Ovation successfully reinvented itself over the past five years, leveraging the family-casual concept.
New Products Move From Conception To Consumers Much Faster Than In Past Years
When products like kale or Starbucks’s “flat white” hit the market, they seem to come out of nowhere. While that is not exactly the case, new foods, drinks, and international dishes are coming to consumers much quicker than in the past, Smartblogs.com says. Part of the reason is technology. But a good share of it is also the result of an increasingly international population that is spurred on by the globalization movement of the past few decades. According to Smartblogs, that may lead to exotic pizza flavors, such as curry and ginger, honey butter fries from Korea, and maybe even foie gras sandwiches from France.
Hunt Brothers Pizza On A Roll Through The South
It is one of the most success pizza chains you likely never heard of. But if you need gas, bait, and pizza, Hunt Brothers has 7,300 locations in 28 states where the competition fears to tread. Why? Hunt Brothers offers not only good pizza and great value, says The Modesto Bee, it is often the only dining option for miles. Combining the convenience store concept, with a gas station, then adding pizza that comes out on a conveyor belt seems to be the magic sauce for the privately owned company.
Where’s The Beef
Looking across the top 500 restaurant chains, new chicken dishes outnumber beef dishes based on health issues, availability, and especially price. "I think chicken has a health halo that it's better for you," says Darren Tristano, executive vice president for food industry research firm Technomic. With beef prices continuing to rise, chicken is suddenly king, even at the national burger chains, where chicken specials, from chicken fries to chicken tenders are vying to have customers lining up for more.
Teens No Longer Dominant Restaurant Workforce
Wondering where all the teens are in the restaurant business? Thanks to the Great Recession, many are
sitting on the sidelines, replaced by twenty-somethings and older Americans in need of work.