In every restaurant category, guests are more interested in eco-friendly food than they were two years ago, according to newly released data from the National Restaurant Association. Are you doing all you can to share your environmentally conscious efforts with guests through your social media campaigns and other promotions? The association recommends you weave your sustainability practices into your social media messaging, right alongside your menu promotions. If you replace traditional lightbulbs with LED bulbs, talk about exactly how much you'll be reducing your restaurant's energy output. If your energy-saving efforts save you money each month, consider applying those dollars toward a promotion or an extension of happy hour once a month.
Rebrand or refresh?
Has Subway's clean new logo made you yearn to polish your own brand? If so, it's important to know whether it needs a simple refresh or a more in-depth rebranding effort. Foodable says if your restaurant has had a change in ownership, name or focus, rebranding can help communicate who you are and what qualities you want guests to associate with your brand. It can include a logo redesign, new colors, changes to messaging and other adjustments to your brand identity. (Just don't fix what isn't broken -- your guests may be attached to your brand as is.) A brand refresh, alternatively, is a less-involved visual update. Try this if your brand's style is outdated, you didn't have the means to make it what you wanted it to be the first time around, or you're trying to appeal to a new demographic.
Starbucks awards loyalty program points for Lyft rides
Consumers who arrange morning rides through Lyft will soon be able to reap Starbucks loyalty program points in return. USA Today reports that people who use Lyft cars between 5 a.m. and 10 a.m. local time can earn five rewards stars for each Lyft ride they take. Those hiring Lyft for the first time can earn even more -- 125 stars, which will pay for a cup of coffee -- if they link their Starbucks and Lyft accounts and take a ride within a specified time frame.
Boost impulse purchases with touchscreens
Presenting your menu on a touchscreen interface may increase consumers' impulse food purchases, according to a new study from the American Marketing Association. The research found that when consumers touch an item on the screen, they're mimicking the act of grabbing the item and they're more easily tempted by foods that provide immediate gratification as opposed to the more delayed, cognitive gratification one might feel when choosing to eat a meal packed with vegetables or sustainably sourced ingredients. In other words, if your menu is packed with comfort foods or other items that provide immediate gratification, touchscreens may spark sales.
Champagne shortage could impact vintners
It may be time to rethink your menu of celebratory beverages: Eater reports that Champagne is headed for a global shortage due to a late spring frost hitting an area where one-quarter of the Champagne vineyards are found. Decanter says that as a result, the industry is having its most challenging growing season in 60 years. The price and availability of Champagne varieties will likely depend on the foresight of the vintner: The ones who have planned ahead still may have ample reserves in stock to get them through the season.
Yelp and Nowait partnership untethers consumers from restaurant waiting lists
If you struggle with long wait times at your restaurant, or your hosts often overstate or understate wait times, take note of a new partnership between Yelp and Nowait. Yelp announced it is investing $8 million in Nowait, an app that lets users virtually get in line at restaurants to cut back on the time they spend waiting at a restaurant for a table, according to Grub Street. Consumers scan wait times at nearby restaurants, get in line via their app and then arrive at the restaurant once their table is ready. Nowait claims the system removes human error from restaurant waits by untethering guests from a waiting list -- and potentially eliminating the traditional buzzer system used to summon waiting guests to a table. Of course, this might also make it easier for them to jump restaurants at the last minute.
App helps operators connect with lawmakers on wage proposals
If you have strong opinions about minimum wage increases up for vote near you, a new mobile app makes it easier for you to flood your lawmakers' in boxes and share your views in just a few clicks, Restaurant Business reports. Wage Engage, an app created by the conservative think tank Employment Policies Institute, is also a news tool that sends text messages to users regarding wage proposals in their area. The report says the app currently covers wage bills in five states, as well as a national bill. It may eventually cover wage proposals down to the city level.
Warming sea temperatures lead to infected seafood
A recent study links warming sea surface temperatures to the spread of vibrios, bacteria that occur in marine waters and can lead to foodborne illness, Food Safety News reports. Eating raw oysters or undercooked seafood can expose people to vibrio illnesses, which have been increasing during the past 20 years. The study's lead author noted that even Alaska, where sea water is generally colder and less hospitable to vibrio bacteria, has been seeing cases after people there ate infected oysters.
Wal-Mart's practices slash Salmonella risk
Want to eliminate Salmonella? Consider Wal-Mart, which has partnered successfully with U.S. chicken suppliers on enhanced food safety requirements, Food Safety News reports. Suppliers of chicken parts had until June to implement Wal-Mart’s four-part plan, which includes primary breeder stock interventions to reduce vertical transmission of Salmonella to broiler flocks, the application of the U.S.D.A.'s National Poultry Improvement Plan, and bio-control measures including vaccinations of broiler/breeder flocks and use of disease prevention best practices, among other measures. As of June, only 2 percent of chicken parts from American suppliers tested positive for Salmonella, down from 17 percent before the requirements went into effect.
Build your brand from the outside in
Cooper's Hawk Winery & Restaurants has a strong community of guests who have a regular impact on the 22-unit restaurant group's operations. FSR Magazine reports that the restaurant group's wine club, which has monthly events and also takes destination trips that include company leaders (including its chefs), provides important feedback that the restaurant group incorporates into its operations and overall brand. The wine club's trips -- past destinations include Portugal, New England and Italy -- involve members sitting down to meals with company brass. The gatherings have yielded new menu items and theme dinner ideas. The restaurant group's leaders gather valuable feedback from members and share it with their research team -- and the face-to-face feedback makes wine club members feel all the more invested in the brand.