• Supermarkets, c-stores use design to erase the line between retail and dining

    Supermarkets and c-stores looking to get in on the dining game can build on some key elements of restaurant design to create a dining experience customers will seek out. At the NRA Show’s Foodservice @ Retail Summit in Chicago, two leading voices in the grocerant design world, Juan Romero of aPI, a design firm, and Tré Musco of Tesser, a brand strategy design firm, presented on the topic. Nicolas Granucci of Ecolab moderated the session.
    Romero and Musco shared important design ide
  • Chalak Mitra Group sells 3 brands

    Genghis Grill parent Chalak Mitra Group of Companies announced on Monday the sale of three of its non-core brands — Elephant Bar Restaurant, Baker Bros. American Deli and Ruby Tequila’s Mexican Kitchen.
    Terms of the sale were not disclosed.
    The most recent completed sale was for the 10-unit Elephant Bar, which was sold via stock purchase agreement on May 19 to an affiliate of SBR LLC, described as an investment company based in Connecticut. 
    Chalak Mitra Group acquired the then
  • How manufacturer insights can benefit retail foodservice

    Since the beginning of the Great Recession in 2008, restaurant traffic has been decreasing while visits to grocery and convenience stores have been on the rise.
    “They’ve lost almost a billion trips since the recession, [and those visits have gone] into retail channels,” said Randy Raymond, director of retail foodservice strategy for Coca-Cola.
    That process has helped give rise to, and been fueled by, increasingly attractive food offerings in retail locations.
    Raymond discussed
  • Fund started by former McDonald’s CEO acquires PizzaRev

    Don Thompson is getting into the pizza business.
    Cleveland Avenue LLC, a Chicago-based accelerator that invests in restaurant, food and beverage concepts, has acquired a majority stake in the fast-casual pizza chain PizzaRev.
    Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
    “This is more than investment; this is a partnership,” Thompson said in a statement. “Our mission is to provide collaborative expertise and educational, practical and financial resources to our network of entrepreneur
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  • The latest in tech: Scheduling, delivery and automation

    This is part of NRN’s special coverage of the 2017 NRA Show, being held in Chicago, May 20-23. Visit NRN.com for the latest coverage from the show, plus follow us on Twitter and Facebook.
    Scheduling, delivery and automation were key topics at tech exhibits at the NRA Show, particularly for operators looking to trim labor costs and improve efficiency.
    Here’s a look at what’s new in tech from the show floor:
    A new self-service kiosk from BrightSign and Felbro Displays
  • Industry celebrates culinary creativity at MenuMasters Awards

    This is part of NRN’s special coverage of the 2017 NRA Show, being held in Chicago, May 20-23. Visit NRN.com for the latest coverage from the show, plus follow us on Twitter and Facebook.
    “I had duck tongue and pancakes not two feet from each other. How amazing is that?” said Billy Dec as he welcomed guests to the 20th annual MenuMasters Awards, presented by Nation’s Restaurant News and sponsored by Ventura Foods.
    Dec, founder and CEO of Chicago-based hospitali
  • 3 tech trends in training

    This is part of NRN’s special coverage of the 2017 NRA Show, being held in Chicago, May 20-23. Visit NRN.com for the latest coverage from the show, plus follow us on Twitter and Facebook.
    Training younger, tech-savvy workers requires keeping up with the latest tech-based education tools, said Donna Herbel, vice president of training and culture development at Perkins & Marie Callender’s LLC. 
    At an NRA Show session on Saturday, titled “Trends in Training,&rd
  • What Gen Z restaurant consumers want

    This is part of NRN’s special coverage of the 2017 NRA Show, being held in Chicago, May 20-23. Visit NRN.com for the latest coverage from the show, plus follow us on Twitter and Facebook.
    The next generation of restaurant consumers, who are now in their teens, will demand the non-negotiables of good value, a unique experience and superb food safety, according to an NRA Show panel on Saturday. 
    “Gen Z will have a huge impact on the global markets and the foodservice in
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  • How restaurant operators can implement sustainability programs

    This is part of NRN’s special coverage of the 2017 NRA Show, being held in Chicago, May 20-23. Visit NRN.com for the latest coverage from the show, plus follow us on Twitter and Facebook.
    Sustainability, whether sourcing food responsibly or cutting down waste, is top-of-mind for many consumers. National Restaurant Association officials outlined steps operators can take and how to communicate what they’re doing to customers.In a presentation at the NRA Show on Saturday, Lau
  • Food trucks offer casual alternative to catering - messenger-inquirer

    messenger-inquirer
    Food trucks offer casual alternative to catering
    messenger-inquirer
    Bobby Hughes' family was worried about the food truck. They were used to sit-down wedding dinners with towering cakes. But Hughes and his Colombian bride, Angelica, were opting for a more relaxed approach when they asked the owners of a local food ...
  • Is delivery worth the headache?

    This post is part of the On the Margin blog.
    This is part of NRN’s special coverage of the 2017 NRA Show, being held in Chicago, May 20-23. Visit NRN.com for the latest coverage from the show, plus follow us on Twitter and Facebook.
    No single trend in the restaurant industry is as big as delivery. The wave of third-party services and clear demand from consumers has just about every major restaurant chain headed in that direction.
    Delivery can generate a flood of sales when compan
  • As labor costs hit hard, operators look for answers

    This is part of NRN’s special coverage of the 2017 NRA Show, being held in Chicago, May 20-23. Visit NRN.com for the latest coverage from the show, plus follow us on Twitter and Facebook.
    Low unemployment and a restaurant industry adding jobs at a strong clip, along with rising minimum wages, have conspired to drive up labor costs for most operators.
    The rising costs, coming at a time of weak sales, have left many operators searching for answers throughout their operations &mdas
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  • The Porch Cafe and Catering: Serving up local food brings statewide honor - Brattleboro Reformer

    Brattleboro Reformer
    The Porch Cafe and Catering: Serving up local food brings statewide honor
    Brattleboro Reformer
    BRATTLEBORO — Ask Gretchen Hardy of this town's The Porch Cafe and Catering how she became the U.S. Small Business Administration's Young Vermont Entrepreneur of the Year, and she won't recite the expected recipe of blood, sweat and tears.
  • Working Lunch: Cities push for menu labeling enforcement

    This week, Align Public Strategies discusses why New York City will not wait for delayed federal requirements on menu labeling, and the mayor’s call to action for other cities to follow. Distractions in Washington, D.C., are getting worse, which means the legislative agenda is sidelined. Meanwhile, President Donald Trump and Congress appear to be heading toward a possible agreement on parental paid leave.  
    Align Public Strategies is a full-service public affairs and creative firm th
  • Future of Food: You will really know your customers

    Consumer demand is one driver of the proliferation of restaurant apps. But for restaurant operators, the benefit is unlocking access to a treasure trove of customer data.
    For proof of how essential these technologies are to restaurants today, look no further than McDonald’s. In March, the company announced plans to double down on kiosks, delivery and curbside service, all powered by the latest digital innovations.
    “Technology is disrupting everything around us,” McDonald’
  • Future of Food: Trucks drive without a person at the wheel

    Some of the biggest tech companies, and a few traditional automakers, are working to bring self-driving vehicles to the road.
    But these vehicles could also come to the back of your restaurant, in the form of a truck without a driver.
    To be sure, driverless trucks are many years away. But a number of companies, such as the Uber-owned Otto and the California-based startup Embark, are bringing automated technology to trucks and commercial vehicles for use inside manufacturing plants. 
    Theoreti
  • Future of Food: There will be no secret sauce

    The days of undisclosed ingredients will soon be over.
    Restaurants are increasingly accepting the fact that many of their guests have allergies and need to know exactly what they’re eating. For many, it could be a matter of life and death.
    An estimated 15 million Americans live with food allergies or intolerances, according to Allergy Eats, a website to help the food-allergic find restaurants.
    For restaurants, it will be about disclosure of ingredients, but also better training for staff.
  • Future of Food: The robots are coming

    The future of food is technology, and the rise of robots is already here.
    From coast to coast, robots are tossing salads, pouring cappuccinos and even handing customers McDonald’s orders at the drive-thru. Want a preview of what’s to come? At Tian Waike Restaurant in Kunshan, China, a fleet of robots cooks and serves food to customers — with some actual humans watching over.
    Robots have the potential to radically change how food is prepared and presented to customers, and a con
  • Future of Food: The other, other white meats

    Justin Cucci, executive chef of Edible Beats restaurant group, uses elk in a burger at Ophelia’s Electric Soapbox, his Denver eatery.
    He’s among the growing number of chefs that are making use of the many meats besides chicken, beef and pork that typically populate restaurant menus.
    The Brothel Burger makes elk meat seductive with Korean barbecue flavor, miso-candied bacon, ponzu onions and pickled veggies. The newest concept in the Edible Beats group, El Five, opening in early May,
  • Future of Food: The market for cover crops grows

    “Farm to table” has a romantic ring to it, but what does it really mean?
    After all, any food at a restaurant, except perhaps for a bit of wild seafood and some foraged plants, is from a farm.
    Farms have traditionally grown lots of plants, rotating crops that take nutrients out of the soil with those that replenish it. That includes cover crops like clover and vetch that keep the topsoil in place, but aren’t typically sold for food.
    But now, as chefs become increasingly involved
  • Future of Food: The dawn of the Internet of Things

    Once upon a time, it was crucial for a restaurant manager to be on site during all business hours to make sure operations ran smoothly.
    No more.
    Now, with a smartphone and a decent Wi-Fi connection, managers can handle from afar everything from the temperature of freezer units to lighting in the dining room.
    It’s the Internet of Things in restaurants, and it’s only the beginning.
    For example, oven sensors can send data to a cloud where the information can be analyzed to reveal, say,
  • Future of Food: POS becomes 'server farm to table'

    Cloud computing will have a big impact on point-of-sale systems in restaurants, experts say.
    POS systems have already incorporated innovations like online ordering, inventory tracking, theft reduction, loyalty reward programs and other marketing initiatives, plus administrative tasks like payroll, scheduling and deep-dive business reports.
    But Fred LeFranc, founder and CEO of Charlotte, N.C.-based consultancy Results Thru Strategy, said point-of-sale systems are migrating to cloud computing, wit
  • Future of Food: Meat steps up its game

    It used to be that only socially conscious chefs of a certain political bent used and promoted meat not treated with antibiotics.
    Now everyone does it.
    That’s mostly due to consumer demand, aided by the fact that, as of this year, the Food and Drug Administration has largely banned the routine use of “medically important” antibiotics, or those used to treat humans, on animals.
    But if even giant chains like Chick-fil-A and Subway are selling antibiotic-free chicken, what are ope
  • Future of Food: Meat raised in a lab

    In the future, meat might be a thing of the past.
    Picture beef without cows, pork without pigs, or chicken without, well, chickens.
    Universities and startups are investing in ways to grow meat in laboratories, a growing field known as cellular agriculture.
    Scientists at Maastricht University in The Netherlands have created cultured beef by painlessly harvesting muscle cells from living cows. The cells are fed and nurtured so they multiply and create muscle tissue, the main component in the meat
  • Future of Food: Local will get more local

    The bar for local produce is rising. A continued embrace of urban farming is leading to an uptick in volume of leafy greens available in even the densest metropolis. 
    Restaurants can offer local produce 52 weeks per year, sourcing food that uses 95 percent less water than traditional farming methods. 
    Urban farming consists of four subsectors, which are continuing to build supply for restaurants. Hydroponic plants are grown with little or no soil, areoponic plants are grown in closed l
  • Future of Food: Less food will go to waste

    Food waste is a growing concern among Americans, and for good reason: More than 30 percent of all food produced in the U.S. is never eaten, according to the USDA. Restaurants have long been careful about waste because it can raise their cost of goods. But now that more consumers are seeing the value of conservation for its own sake, restaurants are leveraging these practices to benefit their reputation. We only see this less wasteful trend growing.
    Millennial-friendly salad chain Sweetgreen has
  • Future of Food: Kiosks will take your order

    Will restaurant workers who take customers’ orders one day become obsolete?
    Probably not, but the industry is moving toward a future in which more guests place orders on computer screens inside restaurants.
    Some of the world’s biggest restaurant chains are moving in that direction. McDonald’s, the largest of the bunch, has been adding kiosks in international markets for years.
    McDonald’s wants to expand its “Experience of the Future” model, which includes kios
  • Future of Food: Insects for dinner

    Crickets and grasshoppers are coming to a menu near you.
    In fact, this sustainable protein source is already available in many American restaurants as chefs are incorporating insects into their dishes. Take a peek inside the tortillas at The Black Ant in New York City, where grasshoppers, or chapulines, are a focal point of the modern Mexican menu, showing up in tacos, grasshopper croquettes and pastry chef Jesus Perea’s platano y chapulin banana cake and ice cream.
    Mario Hernandez, chef a
  • Future of Food: Food safety tools will be souped up

    Mystery still clouds the cause of the foodborne illness outbreaks that tarnished Chipotle Mexican Grill’s reputation and led to a steep decline in same-store sales.
    The Centers for Disease Control failed to find a source of Chipotle’s E. coli outbreaks, but the Denver-based fast-casual operator dramatically altered its approach to food safety and spent more than $10 million to improve food safety.
    In the future, restaurants will have a wide variety of new technologies at their dispos
  • Future of Food: Food flies to you

    Drone delivery isn’t on the horizon — it’s here.
    Over the past year, Domino’s Pizza has delivered pies by drone in New Zealand; Chipotle Mexican Grill has tested burritos from the sky in Blacksburg, Va.; and Orange Leaf Frozen Yogurt has landed fro-yo by drone in Holland, Mich.
    “We are moving closer and closer to widespread store-to-door drone delivery,” said Matthew Sweeny, CEO of Flirtey, the drone-service company that partnered with Domino’s Australi
  • Future of Food: Diners will expect an influx of ‘new’

    According to a study by the National Restaurant Association, 76 percent of consumers are open to trying new dishes, with 56 percent open to doing so occasionally and 20 percent saying they “really enjoy trying new dishes.”
    That’s a lot of sisig and nkatenkwan.
    Sisig is a Filipino dish of braised, sizzling pork, and nkatenkwan is a chicken-and-peanut stew from Ghana, in West Africa. They represent cuisines that we don’t often see in the U.S., but that may become more popul
  • Future of Food: Customization will go the way of the Dodo bird

    For years, customization has been all the rage at restaurants. 
    Fast-casual concepts followed the so-called “Chipotle model” — although the first major chain to do it was Subway — of assembling food right in front of customers.
    But that model could be on the way out.
    Sales are down in the fast-casual segment as customers appear to shift to quick-service restaurants that are cheaper and faster. And operators have found that when guests customize their food and don&rsq
  • Future of Food: Couch service will be key

    The future of food isn’t inside a restaurant — it’s inside your home.
    Restaurants and third-party delivery services are racing to get food directly to consumers. They’re delivering this food in many different ways — with contract drivers, employees and even via drone or wheeled robot. 
    As it is, only a tiny percentage of restaurant orders are delivered. According to a study in November by the consulting firm McKinsey & Company, only 4 percent of food sold b
  • Future of Food: Consumers yell their orders

    In the near future, hungry consumers might be able to yell at any of their belongings and food will eventually appear.
    Until then, there’s Alexa.
    Alexa is the digital assistant in Amazon’s Echo, similar to Google Assistant in Google Home devices. These digital assistants are being embedded into consumer’s lives, with more applications on the way.
    Amazon partners say they will offer Alexa in alarm clocks, Ford Fusion and F-150 and Volkswagen cars, light switches, refrigerators,
  • From the editor: A new hospitality

    It’s easy to point to the rise in technology as the future of the restaurant industry. Just look at how aninvestment in delivery and digital platforms has benefited companies like Domino’s and Starbucks.But tech isn’t helping restaurants just because it’s tech. These new platforms are a way to provide better hospitality to customers. 
    On the retail side, Amazon has excellent hospitality; you can easily put in an order and it arrives quickly. If you have a problem, y
  • Report: Consumers prefer independent restaurants over chains

    Independent restaurants are killing it.
    That’s according to a recent report by foodservice consulting firm Pentallect Inc., in conjunction with research partner Critical Mix.
    Both traffic and revenue growth among independent restaurants is outperforming chains, the report said, indicating a shift from historical patterns when chains were driving growth across the industry. 
    Pentallect estimated 2016 sales of $210 billion for independent restaurants and small chains, while larger chai
  • Golden Corral rolls out brunch systemwide

    Golden Corral is rolling out brunch nationwide, starting May 22.
    The breakfast-and-lunch offerings at the Raleigh, N.C.-based buffet chain will be available every day from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. They include new strawberry cheesecake French toast, made-to-order eggs and omelets, biscuits and gravy, sausage-and-egg skillets and carved glazed ham, as well as fried chicken, pot roast and miniature burgers.
    Lance Trenary
    Photo: Golden Corral
    Golden Corral CEO Lance Trenary said the chain has been test
  • Adeyemo calls for resuscitation of Nigeria Hotel and Catering Institute - NIGERIAN TRIBUNE (press release) (blog)

    NIGERIAN TRIBUNE (press release) (blog)
    Adeyemo calls for resuscitation of Nigeria Hotel and Catering Institute
    NIGERIAN TRIBUNE (press release) (blog)
    The efforts of our heroes past must not be in vain. “This page was created to energise, coordinate and create awareness for stakeholders in the hotel and catering industry to know our positions, harmonise same and put up a common front for the benefit ...
  • Restaurant show gets underway in Chicago

    This is part of NRN’s special coverage of the 2017 NRA Show, being held in Chicago, May 20-23. Visit NRN.com for the latest coverage from the show, plus follow us on Twitter and Facebook. [INCLUDE ALL LINKS]
    The National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show gets underway on Saturday in Chicago. This year, organizers expect more than 67,000 attendees from more than 100 countries and more than 2,300 exhibitors to participate.
    The annual four-day show, which is expec
  • Curry Up Now acquires Tava Kitchen

    The fast-casual Tava Kitchen chain in San Francisco has been acquired by Curry Up Now, another Bay-area Indian concept, in an expansion move, the companies announced Thursday.
    Terms of the deal were not disclosed. 
    All three of Tava Kitchen’s locations in California closed earlier this year. However, an 1,800-square-foot location in Alameda, Calif., will be rebranded as a Curry Up Now and is scheduled to reopen in June with a new open-kitchen format. The site will serve as an innovat
  • Billy Dec expands with new restaurant, bar

    Billy Dec has long balanced his job as a restaurateur with his work as a media personality. Now he’s expanding both with the opening of two new venues and a food-related podcast.
    Dec is founder and CEO of Rockit Ranch Productions, which operates Bottlefork, The Duck Inn, Sunda New Asian, Rockit Burger Bar, Rockit Bar & Grill and its newest concept, the cocktail bar Otto Mezzo, all in Chicago.
    Inspired by the Federico Fellini film “8 ½,” or “otto e mezzo”
  • Taking small bites of big data

    With advanced point-of-sale systems, inventory management software, and reams of information provided by loyalty program members, restaurateurs have access to mountains of data that could help them manage food costs.
    But they also work long, hard hours and, even if these operators had backgrounds in data analysis, they wouldn’t have time to sort through all the information. 
    By focusing on the most crucial numbers, operators can manage their most important costs without suffering fro
  • McDonald’s quietly changes soft serve

    Notice something different about McDonald’s ice cream? Maybe not, but it is indeed changed.
    The Oak Brook, Ill.-based burger giant said on Thursday that it has removed all artificial flavors, colors and preservatives from its vanilla soft serve — a change it began making in the fall and is now largely complete at its 14,000 U.S. locations.
    The change impacts 60 percent of the desserts the company serves, including the company’s shakes and McFlurry desserts.
    The company also sa
  • New Rosemont Minor League Baseball Team Selects PSC For Game Catering - Journal & Topics Newspapers Online

    New Rosemont Minor League Baseball Team Selects PSC For Game Catering
    Journal & Topics Newspapers Online
    Professional Sports Catering is the only full-service food & beverage company that focuses exclusively on Minor League and Spring Training Baseball. Tom Dickson launched the company in 2007 to serve the needs of minor league baseball teams and ...and more »
  • THE ENSIGN: A New Platform Catering to 'Made in the USA' Menswear - The Fashion Law (blog)

    The Fashion Law (blog)
    THE ENSIGN: A New Platform Catering to 'Made in the USA' Menswear
    The Fashion Law (blog)
    Despite the fact that the market is chock-full of fashion brands, no shortage of which are forced to ultimately shutter given the demands placed on new fashion businesses and the current strain of the retail market, in general, new labels continue to ...
  • Attributes of the Best Catering Company in Philadelphia - Minyanville.com

    Attributes of the Best Catering Company in Philadelphia
    Minyanville.com
    When you are planning an event in Philadelphia, selecting a catering company is on the top of your to-do list. But how do you know which caterer is good for you? Not all caterers are the same. Some catering companies may be famous for their food ...
  • Sales decline steeply at Joe’s Crab Shack and Brick House

    Ignite Restaurant Group saw sales decline steeply at both its Joe’s Crab Shack and Brick House Tavern + Tap brands in its first quarter ended April 3, the company reported Tuesday.
    The Houston-based casual-dining company, which in April announced it was looking for a buyer and considering bankruptcy protection, said performance at both full-service brands declined in quarter, with Joe’s reporting a 14.3 percent decline in same-store sales and Brick House booking a 12.6 percent
  • Jack in the Box’s Qdoba quandary

    This post is part of the On the Margin blog.
    Late yesterday, Jack in the Box Inc. said it is looking at alternatives for its Qdoba Mexican Eats concept.
    Typically, that means it’s up for sale.
    And there’s something to be said for that strategy. Years ago, burger chains couldn’t get enough of fast casual burrito — McDonald’s Corp. and The Wendy’s Co. each invested in burrito concepts. Both ended up spinning them off or selling them as they sought to concentrat
  • Jack in the Box rethinks discounting strategy

    Jack in the Box announced that the brand would have to introduce single-item value options in the near future, CEO Lenny Comma said during the San-Diego-based company’s second quarter earnings call on Wednesday.
    ”You’ll see us pivot to at least some single-item promotions in the back half of the year simply because we’re being dragged into that space by our competitors, including those with a higher average check,” Comma said.
    He admitted that the move was not an i
  • Pizzeria Catering To UT-Austin Students Donates Proceeds To Slain Student's Family Fund - Patch.com

    Patch.com
    Pizzeria Catering To UT-Austin Students Donates Proceeds To Slain Student's Family Fund
    Patch.com
    Pizza Press near university donates all its grand opening proceeds, $3,200, to Harrison Brown Memorial Fund benefiting his family. By Tony Cantu (Patch Staff) - May 17, 2017 5:34 pm ET. Pizzeria Catering To UT-Austin Students Donates Proceeds To Slain ...

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