Ray's & Stark Bar, the Patina Group's restaurant and bar located at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, will be adding a 20-item Water Menu to its beverage list next week. Eater LA reports that Ray's & Stark GM and water sommelier Martin Riese created the list which includes waters from ten different countries including Spain, France, Germany, and Canada. The bottles range in size from .75 - 1 liter, and are priced from $8 - $16. The most expensive bottle is Riese's own California-made water 9OH2O. Eater LA had previously reported that 9OH2O retails for $14 per bottle because it's made "in limited editions of 10,000 individually numbered glass bottles."
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.
According to a study conducted a couple years ago, the number of fast-food menus featuring the word “snack” tripled from 2007 to 2010. Our snacking seems to have only picked up pace since then. QSRWeb named “Snacks” as one of the top quick-service restaurant trends for 2012, listing just a few of the many new snacks introduced lately:
The daypart between lunch and dinner continues to grow, buoyed by snack-sized launches such as McDonald’s Chicken McBites, Jack in the Box’s Mini Corn Dogs, KFC’s Original Chicken Bites, Pretzelmaker’s Pretzel Bites, Whataburger’s Whatachick’n Bites, Popeyes’ Wicked, Dip’n and Rip’n Chick’n, Dunkin’ Donuts’ Pancake Bites and Wienerschnitzel’s Der Chicken Dippers.
Likewise, National Restaurant Association named “half-portions/smaller portions for a smaller price” as one of its top trends to watch out for in 2013. Restaurant consultants such as Baum & Whiteman are also highlighting the “Snackification of America” in 2013 trend reports, with more and more “minis” appearing at “fast food chains, adding impulse revenue to between-meal shoulder hours.” The consultant report explains:
We’re eating less at every meal… but more than making up for it with endless snacking … and our national waistlines prove it. Snacks account for one in five “eating occasions” … multiple snacks now qualify as America’s “fourth meal” … and even the traditional three are degenerating into nibbles and bits.
The snacking trend is hot at bars and upscale restaurants as well, according to Andrew Freeman & Co., whose 2013 restaurant forecast calls for more tiny menu items, including smaller selections on toast (“Perfect for snacking and for sharing”) and “One Bite Wonders” (“Pay per the piece pre-appetizer courses priced less than $5 each”). Freeman told Nation’s Restaurant News that snacking is a trend that’s been in the works for years:
For example, he said bar food will increasingly play a role in restaurant dining, offering all-day menus for snacking and helping restaurants lose their special-occasion-only place in consumers’ minds. “Bar food, I think, is as important as dining room food,” he said.
What’s with the onslaught of snacks? Whatever happened to three square meals per day? Well, the truth is it’s been a long time since snacks and snacking between meals have universally been considered bad things. As Dr. Sanjay Gupta wrote in 2008:
You can forget the no-snacking rule. Snacks can actually help stabilize your blood-sugar level, making it easier to curb your cravings come meal time.
New menu items include Napa chicken and portobellos, which uses a cabernet demi-glace, as well as pretzels and a beer cheese dip (spiked with craft beer, apparently). This adds onto the "double barrel whisky sirloin," with a bourbon-based sauce.
"We're obsessed over combining wine, bourbon, and beer with top ingredients to create cravable dishes that are approachable for our guests," Applebee's executive chef Michael Slavin told NRN. One way to lure in the hot, younger crowd? Add booze to everything. Makes sense.
But really, Applebee's is trying so hard; they even got a "flair bartender" to show off his juggling skills in their new ad. Now, if the alcohol weren't cooked out (like those alcoholic pizzas), that would be a completely different story. Check out their new ad below.
US fast food chain Denny's wants Tolkien fans to prepare their intestines for an unexpected journey with its Hobbit-inspired menu, probably the weirdest movie tie-in served up.
While Peter Jackson is dabbling in the latest technology to bring Tolkien's much beloved children's book to the screen, Denny's is going old school to bring you closer to Middle-earth.
On the menu are such fattening dishes as The Shire Sausage Skillet, Radagast's Red Velvet Pancake Puppies, Bilbo's Berry Smoothie, Gandalf's Gobble Melt and The Ring Burger (but not raw fish for all those Gollums out there).
After throwing that lot down your throat like a fat greedy Hobbit, you'll probably need your own Master Samwise to carry you home or to a local wizard for some indigestion cure.
Second breakfast, anyone?
The Gandalf Gobble. Picture: Supplied
The Ring Burger. Pictured: Supplied
Radagast's Red Velvet Pancake Puppies. Picture: Supplied
Comodo in New York is using Instagram to create a new menu. They have asked their users and followers to choose images on Instagram for different plates that they offer. Crowdsourcing has become a very popular way for companies to get direct feedback from their clients. This type of communication is essential in an increasingly social world where consumers can affect sales in a positive or negative way.
Restaurants just love to put Flash intros with auto-playing music and animations on their front pages. If you are trying to look at one of these sites on your mobile browser without Flash, chances are there is no way to bypass the animation and get to the information you want because the complete site was designed in Flash.
It’s not just these obnoxious animations that make accessing restaurant websites on the go a hassle, though. According to a new study by Restaurant Science, a restaurant industry information and analytics provider, only one out of eight full service restaurant chains and a depressing one out of twenty independent restaurants have a mobile website. What makes this even worse is that according to some reports, half of all visits to restaurant websites are from mobile devices.
Wendy’s announced today that it will sell Quebec-favorite “poutine” at its 368 restaurants in Canada, but the most interesting additions to the chain’s marketing strategy have been its belated embrace of social media and its side track into merchandise sales.
traditionally brown gravy and cheese curds over french fries—joins the new Signature Sides collection rather than the Mac & Cheese added in the U.S. Canadian diners also get Chili Cheese Fries but not baked sweet potatoes. Poutine is $3.99 (Canadian) alone or $2.20 as a side with combo purchase. Wendy’s follows the lead of Burger King, which offers regular poutine plus Angry Poutine and Poutine with Bacon in Canada.
Everybody wants to be in the know about secret menus, and apparently, if you’ve never ordered a ”Raspberry Cheesecake” or “Nutella” drink from Starbucks, your secret menu knowledge is off the mark. Or something like that.
Ready to get your knowledge up? Want to know how to order a Tuxedo Mocha? Maybe something called a Raspberry Cheesecake? How about a Neopolitan Frappucino? We got you, this infographic shares thirteen drink ideas with Starbucks-goers for some added variety on their next visit.
Research from Columbia University suggests that restaurants need better guidelines on communicating information to their customers.
PROBLEM: Two years ago, the federal government required restaurants with 20 or more locations to provide nutrition facts on their menus, ostensibly to curb the increasing prevalence of obesity. Can these calorie labels help diners make smarter food choices?
METHODOLOGY: Researchers led by Columbia University nursing professor Elizabeth Cohn evaluated the calorie counts for 200 food items on menu boards in fast-food chain restaurants in the New York inner-city neighborhood of Harlem. They developed a measure to calculate what constitutes a single serving and the number of calories in a single serving. They then combined this measure with current Food and Drug Administration (FDA) guidelines to rate the utility of the information.
RESULTS: Though most restaurants offered basic calorie counts, in the majority of cases there was insufficient information to make use of them at the point of purchase. Complex math skills were needed to interpret meals designed to serve more than one person or to evaluate nutrition values for customizable and combination menu items.
CONCLUSION: Calorie listings on restaurant menus aren't as useful to consumers as they should be.
IMPLICATION: The authors note that, though their investigation did not focus on actual food purchasing behavior, their work still suggests the need for more comprehensible calorie information on menus. They write in their paper: "As further legislation is developed, we support the FDA in their commitment to having menu boards that are useful at all levels of literacy."
SOURCE: The full study, "Calorie Postings in Chain Restaurants in a Low-Income Urban Neighborhood: Measuring Practical Utility and Policy Compliance," is published in the Journal of Urban Health.