Tag Archives: restaurants


Restaurants rethink menus to woo baby boomers



After years of chasing the young and the hip, restaurants are realizing that young people aren't the ones keeping the industry afloat — their parents are. This is prompting companies to tweak everything from their sandwiches to their seats in a bid to woo baby boomers.

Pre-recession, young adults were the restaurant regulars. According to market research firm the NPD Group, adults under the age of 48 visited a restaurant, on average, 240 times in 2008.

Today, young adults struggle to move out of the house, let alone eat out nearly five times a week. "It’s the economy. They’ve learned to do without; they’re cooking at home," said Bonnie Riggs, restaurant industry analyst for the NPD Group.

Continue Reading @ NBC

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‘Skinny’ Cocktails Trendy in Chain Restaurants

Shaken, stirred ... or skinny?

It's a question that could be asked at a growing number of restaurant chains seizing on the low-calorie-liquor trend spawned by Skinnygirl Cocktails.

T.G.I. Friday's, Chili's, Cheesecake Factory and others are slapping generic phrases like "skinny" and "slender" on cocktails as they target weight-conscious drinkers. And Champps Americana and sibling chain Fox and Hound this month unveiled a handful of drinks with fewer than 140 calories using Skinnygirl brand spirits on a lighter summer menu.

Continue Reading @ AdAge

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Standing Only Restaurants Coming to NYC

Would you stand and eat sushi? One restaurateur hopes so.

Michio Yasuda of the ORENO Corporation tells Reuters that he plans on bringing his standing restaurant concepts to New York.

In Japan, the restaurants eschew seating in favor of price, as chefs from Michelin-starred restaurants cook meals that are more accessible and affordable than seated venues.

Yasuda owns 18 restaurants in Tokyo and wants to bring the concept to New York, allowing New Yorkers to eat quality sushi without paying hefty prices.

Full Article @ TDM

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Adult-Only Restaurant Visits on the Rise

Visits by parties with kids remained flat in 2012, The NPD Group says. While adults are starting to increase their visits to restaurants in the post-recession economy, parties with children are still shying away, The NPD Group finds.

Adult-only restaurant visits increased 1 percent in 2012 — the first increase in four years — but visits that included children remained flat for the second consecutive year, according to The NPD Group, a global information and consulting group.

Total restaurant traffic increased 1 percent for the year ended December 2012, an NPD Foodservice Market Research report found.

Continue Reading @ NRN


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fast casual

New York Town Bans ‘Fast Casual’ Restaurants

The town board of Eastchester, New York has banned "fast casual" chain restaurants like Panera, Cosi, and Quiznos. Changes to the zoning code of the Westchester County town will prohibit any restaurant with more than 15 locations nationwide from setting up shop, reports News 12 Westchester. Fast food restaurants like McDonald's were already prohibited under town laws, but chains like Starbucks and Dunkin' Donuts who already have locations in Eastchester will be grandfathered in under the new rules.

Continue Reading @ Eater

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Restaurants Mull ‘Cashless’ Dining

Consumers today expect to be able use a debit or credit card to buy anything they want -- including $5 sandwiches and $3 cappuccinos. Restaurant owners have responded resoundingly: 92 percent of full-service restaurants now take cards, according to Euromonitor data provided to The Huffington Post by Visa. New technology lets even food trucks and tiny vendors in on the action.

"There are very few places that don't accept Visa or MasterCard, at least," National Restaurant Association spokeswoman Liz Garner told The Huffington Post. "Restaurant owners feel like they have to take these cards in order to compete."

As a result, dining is rapidly becoming a cashless experience. Last year, 81 percent of the money spent at full-service restaurants in America was charged to debit, credit or pre-paid cards, up from 72 percent in 2006 and 66 percent in 2004. At quick-service restaurants, many of which only started taking cards in the early 2000s, just 37 percent of sales were charged in 2012, but the trend toward plastic is the same.

Continue Reading at HuffPo

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The ethnic food revolution is here

Hamburger- and fry-loving Americans have been embracing foreign foods, including Korean fried chicken, black rice, dumplings, kimchee, naan bread and Indian chutneys, more today than ever before. Most urban cities have established districts of independently owned restaurants, specializing in various cuisines, such as New York City's Little Italy and Chinatown. Although we know and love those districts for their culture, authenticity and adventure, ethnic ingredients are now being spotted outside of those neighborhoods. In fact, ethnic ingredients are on mainstream commercial chain menus at a faster rate than ever before. Additionally, more ethnic-branded chain restaurant concepts exist today than ever before and it seems as if restaurants across the country are trying to identify their consumer's tolerance level for new flavor profiles and forms. Are authentic ingredients and ethnic flavors added to familiar dishes enough to satisfy our ethnic cravings, or is the U.S. consumer eventually going to seek more authenticity in cuisine and atmosphere from chain restaurants?

I think we can all agree that when it comes to food, authenticity can be like walking a tight rope with American consumers. Too authentic, and some may consider the food unapproachable or too much of a risk. A modern, yet established atmosphere has been adopted by most ethnic fast casual chains. Recently, however, more authentic concepts, when it comes to branding and atmosphere, are popping up. ShopHouse Southeast Asian Kitchen, owned by parent company Chipotle Mexican Grill, is opening its third location serving customizable ingredients modeled on cuisine from Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia and Singapore. Beyond the green papaya slaw and chicken satay menu items featured, there are also some unique authentic cues in their dining area which includes a Coca-Cola soda fountain written in Thai, a brand that is impossible not to recognize no matter what language. This small token of culture can bring about a level of believability and trust to an ethnic restaurant concept. A NYC Chinatown restaurant has gotten a lot of attention by featuring an artisan hand pulling noodles in the front window, adding a whole new level of culture, quality and authenticity.

Continue Reading @ FastCasual

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Study: Consumers More Open to New Restaurant Technologies

Although restaurants are not yet incorporating technology into their operations in overwhelming numbers, consumers are increasingly interested in the use of technology when dining out, according to Technomic’s study “Market Intelligence Report: Consumer-Facing Technology.” A majority of consumers expect to use technology to order food at restaurants more often within the next year, and only three percent anticipate using it less than they do now, signaling a clear path for restaurant operators who have yet to make use of emerging tech.

In the early stages of foodservice tech usage, consumers are most interested in tableside touchscreen devices that allow them to self-order and pay, iPad/tablet menus and digital rewards tied to loyalty programs.

“Technology can be used as a point of differentiation within the restaurant industry…especially with Millennials,” stated TechnomicExecutive Vice President Darren Tristano. “Operators who stay ahead of the curve, in an increasingly competitive market, will need to evaluate the best use for the latest tech trends and decide how to integrate them into their operations in a way that’s efficient and beneficial to consumers. It should complement and enhance the restaurant experience for all age groups, which may mean having a printed menu available, as well as an iPad/tablet.”

Full Article @ Eat & Drink

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24-hour restaurants: midnight feasts for the grown-ups

Some restaurants in the UK now open all through the night. But is the food worth staying up for?

At 11.30pm, the elevator for Duck & Waffle in the City of London has the hot, beery stench of an underventilated nightclub. I already feel jetlagged from heading out for dinner so late, and when it whooshes me up the Heron Tower's 40 floors in under 30 seconds it gives me an extra headrush. It is a bit like being drunk, which seems rather appropriate for late-night eating.

In New York, Paris and many east Asian cities, 24-hour restaurants have become part of the eating habits of the population. Not in Britain, which is strange when licensing laws theoretically permit round-the-clock opening and many people work shifts through the night. "It may be because of our historically rigid licensing laws," says Jonathan Downey, a bar and restaurant owner who has held two 24-hour licences. "At Milk & Honey our kitchen is open until 2am and we probably sell five plates of food during the last hour."

Which is probably why many late-night British restaurants are aimed at drunk people. Buddies in Brighton has featured on Channel 5's sociological study Brighton Beach Patrol, and with its fry-ups with lager, pizza and burgers, caters to a distinctly vomity clientele.

London's oldest all-night restaurant, and the only one with a 24-hour booze licence, is Vingt-Quatre on the Fulham Road. "We have security," says its managing director Simon Prideaux, "who make the call on whether someone has drunk too much." At 11pm, VQ's menu contracts to a few soaky classics: omelette, bangers and mash, a full English. The place has lasted since 1995 by harnessing one of the great truths of eating out: the squiffy don't crave culinary invention.

"To eat at four o'clock in the morning," says Jay Rayner, the Observer's restaurant critic, "things are either going to be really bad or so good that it doesn't matter where you are. You have to wonder how much value is being placed on the quality of the food."

Plenty, Duck & Waffle would argue: it is marketing itself as one of the UK's first high-end restaurants to stay open 24 hours. During the day, it sells oysters, scallops and tuna with watermelon. But at 4am, says its chef Dan Doherty, "People indulge in gluttony." One dish includes brioche, bacon, homemade chocolate hazlenut spread, a fried quail's egg and a slab of foie gras. Doherty stresses that few of his late-night customers are drunk, but concedes the concoction "probably lends itself more to 1am".

Are there enough customers around who want to buy good food in the middle of the night? Duck & Waffle has been opening late since the middle of September, and seemingly, a large proportion of its punters are industry folk.

"We get lots of people in hospitality," says Doherty. "The Galvin guys are here a lot." It's natural that after a long night's service, kitchen staff will want to relax over a drink and some food. "Plenty of chefs still come in to Vingt-Quatre," says Prideaux, "and back in the 90s Gordon Ramsay and Marcus Wareing were here pretty much every night." Rayner says he enjoys "those steamy Chinese dumpling houses on Lisle Street where a lot of London's kitchen crews tend to hang out."

For late-night dining to become a permanent feature in British cities, it will need more than insomniac students or off-duty chefs. And as I woozily watch the sun rise from the top of the Heron Tower, I feel I would be happy to join them.

Full Article @ Guardian

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Theme Dining Comes to High-End Restaurants

Six nights a week, Jardinière, a "California-style French" restaurant in San Francisco, offers $149 caviar and $110 tasting menu. On the seventh night, every Monday, it holds a $49 prix fixe dinner with a theme, such as "Australia Day" or "Summertime in Venice."

White-tablecloth restaurants are venturing out of their comfort zone and introducing culinary theme nights to help draw customers on the slowest nights of the week. Rather than "Meatloaf Mondays" or "Taco Tuesdays," these high-end theme events showcase guest chefs, hard-to-find wines, rare ingredients and seldom-prepared dishes, such as the sweet-and-sour sardines on Jardiniere's Venice menu and its tropical Pavlova, an Australia Day dessert.

Event dinners have helped Jardinière ramp up to about 200 dinners on Mondays—on par with other weekday evenings. Despite Monday's discounted price, the result is an overall revenue increase, says Greg Rowen, director of operations.

At Recette, a restaurant in New York's West Village, tasting menus run from $75 to $150, and the monthly theme night has a test-kitchen feel. Chef and owner Jesse Schenker shuts down the regular dinner service at his American restaurant and takes reservations for "Mondays with Jesse," where he and his staff try out new dishes or ingredients on about two dozen people. The cost is $125 a person.

Lori Eanes for the Wall Street JournalIowa apple pie with vanilla bean ice cream and walnuts at Jardiniere.

"When you cook for 25 people, [the meal] gets as experimental and off-the-wall as we want," says Mr. Schenker, who that night doubles as a server to diners at the bar. Mr. Schenker started the offering last year. The payoff: Staff is happy, and the most popular dishes are added to the regular menu, he says.

For diners, it is a chance to mingle with other foodies. Sunjit Chawla, a regular at Recette who runs a real-estate business, uses the evening to talk shop with Mr. Schenker and other patrons. This spring, Mr. Chawla attended Recette's Japanese-inspired dinner, featuring 27 tiny courses served on special tableware.

"I was there for five and a half hours," says the 43-year-old. So far, he says, he hasn't tasted anything he didn't like at one of the dinners. He still remembers a pumpkin foam with foie gras broth that he had last year.

In the age of Twitter and food blogs, special dinners help restaurants get noticed on a regular basis, says Candy Argondizza, vice president of culinary and pastry arts at the International Culinary Center, a New York cooking school. "They need to do anything that keeps their name out there these days," she says. Most theme nights won't add directly to a restaurant's bottom line but are a great marketing vehicle for times when business is slow, she says.

Restaurateurs often want to create an intimate feeling for their themed events. Some meals are served at communal tables, offering greater access to chefs and sommeliers. Henry Stimler, co-owner of Jezebel, an American kosher restaurant in New York's Soho neighborhood, in September started offering a Shabbat-style Friday night dinner. Challah bread and other staples are served family style at the traditional Jewish meal, and tables are arranged together to encourage diners to get to converse with each other.

Specialty-dinner themes don't always resonate. Last year, Jardinière offered a "Purge the Bird" meal on the Monday after Thanksgiving. Instead of featuring meat dishes, the menu focused on lighter vegetarian entrees like a mushroom pavé. Many guests took a pass, Mr. Rowen says. "Without anything hearty in it, people weren't inclined to sign up."

Even a small misfire can jeopardize a high-end restaurant's image with a clientele expecting perfection every time, says Alex Susskind, associate professor of food and beverage management at Cornell University's School of Hotel Administration in Ithaca, N.Y.

Restaurateurs are well aware of how quickly specialty nights can turn into a gimmick. Daniel Johnnes, wine director for the Dinex Group, which runs 14 restaurants including Daniel Boulud's Daniel, says his staff vets wine brands carefully before one of the restaurant's monthly wine dinners and declines those that are too widely known or available. "We want to do dinners that add another dimension to the restaurant," he says. Specialty dinners at Daniel have run up to $10,000 per person, for food paired with decades-old Bordeaux vintages, and they will average about $500 per person for events this fall.

Theme dinners can risk hurting regular business, says Jezebel's Mr. Stimler. He hopes to keep his Friday-night dinners under the radar so as not to overshadow other, more lucrative times of the week. "It's a very serious thing to become known for only one night," he says.

When they are done right, though, specialty evenings attract new customers, says Jenn Louis, chef and co-owner of Lincoln restaurant in Portland, Ore. Last month, she offered a prix fixe "ice cream dinner," where each course was served with ice cream or sorbet from Salt & Straw, a nearby shop. Lemon sorbet was served with a chilled-cucumber-and-shrimp soup, for instance. "Now, their customers come to us. And our customers come to them," she says.

Gary Whalen, 69, and his wife are regulars at Jardinière's theme dinners. They don't even bother to check the menu: "It's sort of like going home," he says. "You don't ask your parents what they are going to serve, you're just going to show up."

via WSJ


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