June 7th, 2021

Global Flavors Showcase – Chicken Wings

Posted in Consumer Trends, Food Trends

Chicken Wings Offer Easy, Safe Way to Explore Global Flavors

Global flavors

Looking to showcase some new global flavors? There’s not better vehicle than chicken wings.

Fried chicken continues its reign in 2021 and with a rise in global flavor interest, it’s a match made in heaven. It offers a familiar way for consumers to try new flavors without a large investment. This style of safe exploration is exactly what’s needed to bring new flavors to market.

Plus, for back-of-house all it means is a new sauce, making it safe for bottom lines as well. Whether as an LTO or a new lineup launch, global sauces provide excellent opportunities to extend menus into popular trends with minimal investment.

Here are some of the popular wing flavors for 2021.

Global Flavors Give Chicken Wings Lift

Mediterranean

Global Flavors

Mediterranean flavors from places like Lebanon, Greece, and Morocco continue to grow in interest. Not only because of their bright, vivid flavors and colors, but also because of their perceived health benefits.

Luckily, these flavors are also perfect for chicken wings. Capitalize on the flavor and Med. diet trends with unique flavors like spicy harissa, aromatic shawarma, and Greek ladolemono (aromatic lemon sauce).

On chicken wings alone these flavors break through the norm and create buzzworthy items customers are sure to line up for. Top them with a specialty garnish like chives, basil, or mint and you can easily elevate them to a whole new scale of interest.

Authentic Mexican

Chicken Wing trends

Consumers are starting to recognize the difference between Mexican American and traditional Mexican cuisine. This is great for flavorists, as it offers an opportunity to explore new ingredients and sauces.

Particular among these is adobo sauce. Made with ancho and guajillo peppers, it balances a tangy base with smoke and a medium warmth that’s safe for all types of diners. Brighten it up with a spritz of fresh lime juice or chopped cilantro for an aromatic balance.

Other authentic Mexican flavors coming up include various moles (rich, aromatic blends of fruits, chilies, and spices) and Veracruz sauce, a briny combination of tomatoes, garlic, and capers.

Asian American Influence

Global Chicken Wings

Finally, we must talk about Asian sauces. 2019 and 2020 saw the rise of gochujang in the form of Korean BBQ sauce. This opened up a whole new level of interesting, umami packed sauces piquing consumer’s interest. Flavors like Szechuan Chili Crisp and XO Sauce are finding their way onto menus nationally, but these are still at the very beginning of recognition.

The comfort food trend has, however, reinvigorated interest in classic Asian American flavors like General Tso’s, Kung Pao, and Sesame chicken. These rich, flavorful sauces are absolutely perfect for chicken wings and guaranteed crowd pleasures.

Each can be easily tweaked to add a touch of heat or burst of aromatics without needing to add extra ingredients or drop steps. They’re the restaurants best friends and the consumer’s new favorite.

These Wing Trends Are Hot!

But not all of them are spicy. So, no matter your audience, use global flavors to excite existing consumers and bring in new ones. Trends change fast, so act now to get on top of things.

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May 17th, 2021

Modern Comfort Foods: Meatloaf Trends

Posted in Consumer Trends, Restaurants

Meatloaf is Back in the Wave of Modern Comfort Foods

Modern Comfort Foods

2021 is proving to be the year of modern comfort foods.

We’ve seen a big uptick in unique fried chicken creations along with other stick-to-your-ribs foods like mac and cheese and innovative pizzas. And while there’s an increased interest in healthful foods, that’s not slowing down the desire for comforting indulgence.

With this trend has also come a renewed interest in, you guessed it, meatloaf! I grew up having bacon-wrapped or ketchup slathered meatloaf at least once a month, and according to recent trend research there’s a good chance you did too.

With nostalgia (particularly of the late 90’s and early 2000’s) driving comfort food trends, meatloaf is the next logical platform for innovation. So, let’s see who’s doing what with this protein powerhouse.

Modern Comfort Food Trends: Meatloaf

Haywire

Modern Comfort Foods

Image courtesy of getflavor.com

Let’s start with a more unique take on the classic. Haywire Restaurant out of Plano, TX. Their savory loaf is made from house-ground Texas Wagyu and Cherrywood bacon.

The meat is seasoned with panko, eggs, celery, onions, spices, and chipotle peppers, then brushed with chipotle ketchup. Sliced cold, each serving of meatloaf is grilled to order, giving it a touch of smoke and char.

Boston Market

Meatloaf Trends

Image courtesy of BostonMarket.com

Boston Market has long held meatloaf as a menu staple. They offer a more classic approach, featuring ground beef mixed with special seasonings, onions, tomato puree, and toasted breadcrumbs.

But, to add a little excitement to the proceedings, it’s smothered in zesty, hickory ketchup. The tangy, smoky flavor works perfectly with the savory profile. And if you’re feeling extra zesty, sauce it up with their zesty BBQ sauce.

Lazy Dog

Meatloaf Trends

Image courtesy of lazydogrestaurants.com

Lazy Dog Restaurants chooses to really up the ante with their BBQ Bison Meatloaf. Made with all-natural Durham Ranch grass-raised Wyoming bison and flavored with smoked bacon and seasonings, it’s just the right amount of change to be modern, but still classic.

For the perfect finishing touch, the bison loaf is slathered in smoky BBQ sauce. It’s enough to get your mouth watering just thinking about it.

Urban Plates

Plant Based meatloaf

Image courtesy of urbanplates.com

To keep up with trends we had to include at least one plant-based meatloaf, and no one is doing it better than Urban Plates.

Their “Meatless Loaf” features a plant-based loaf of garden veggies, black beans, and organic quinoa. It’s finished with a generous serving of tangy homemade tomato jam. It’s all the comfort, sans the meat.

Just Like Mom Used to Make

Or not. Really, it’s up to you. That’s the fun part about modern comfort food trends, they’re all about inspiring nostalgia rather than replicating it. So, grab a slice of meatloaf, slather it in your favorite tomato or BBQ sauce, and relax in the feelings of times past. We won’t judge.

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May 3rd, 2021

Cauliflower Wings – New Flavor Trends

Posted in Consumer Trends, Restaurants, Retail

Cauliflower Wings Have Officially Emerged as a Flavor Trend

Cauliflower Wings

With 2021 trends leading towards fried chicken, spicy sauces, and vegetables, it should be no surprise to see cauliflower wings emerging as a hot ticket item.

While we’ve seen a few iterations appear in 2020, it looks like 2021-2022 might be a breakout window for the veggie focused snack. This trend was certainly boosted by the increase of interest brought upon by the Super Bowl.

Health conscious and veg-forward eaters clambered to find lighter alternatives to the normal Super Bowl fare and cauliflower wings offered a perfect balance.

So, let’s see how this trend falls into the menu adoption cycle and how it’s currently appearing in restaurants.

Cauliflower Wings for the Win

The Menu Adoption Cycle

According to Datassential’s Menu Adoption Cycle, cauliflower wings are currently in the Adoption phase. This means that they can be found in specialty retailers and progressive fast-casual restaurants.

In fact, you can find frozen cauliflower wings from brands like RollinGreens at Whole Foods and Walmart. Birds Eye also offers a whole lineup of crispy cauliflower flavors available at most major grocery stores in the frozen vegetables section.

By the retail standard, cauliflower wings may be pushing past Adoption and toward Proliferation. But let’s not count our chickens (or in this case, cruciferous vegetables), before they hatch.

Cauliflower Wings in Restaurants

Alamo Drafthouse Cinema

Buffalo Cauliflower Wings

Image courtesy of BiteSizedBett.com

One of the earliest adopters for cauliflower wings was the movie theatre/restaurant chain Alamo Drafthouse Cinema. Their menu features vegan buffalo cauliflower wings served with vegan ranch dressing.

They’re just the right amount of spicy and crispy and won’t leave you missing their chicken-based analog.

Buffalo Wild Wings

Veggie Trends

Image courtesy of BuffaloWildWings.com

This one should come as no surprise. Buffalo Wild Wings features breaded cauliflower wings on their menu, but here you can select any sauce or dry rub you choose.

That means you have the option of over 26 different flavors to dazzle your tastebuds. We recommend the Nashville Hot if you’re feeling adventurous.

Donatos Pizza

2021 Foods Trends

Image courtesy of Dayton.com

Never shy about innovation, Donatos Pizza now offers cauliflower wings.  Where they differ is that their wings are oven-baked, rather than fried. While only currently available in Dayton-area restaurants, the likelihood they spread to other areas is very high.

Plus, Donatos allows you to flavor your cauliflower wings with any dry rub or delicious sauce of your choice. Here’s to options!

It’s a Cauliflower Revolution

While cauliflower continues to make its way into everything, I for one am glad to find it in wing format. The neutral flavor profile and al dente texture of cauliflower allows flavorful sauces to shine bright. Whether it’s buffalo, BBQ, Nashville Hot, or spicy sambal, there’s no wrong choice for cauliflower wings. Just make sure there’s an extra side of sauce for dunking.

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April 19th, 2021

Restaurant Trends That Helped Them Survive 2020

Posted in Consumer Trends, Restaurants

These Restaurant Trends Helped Bring Us to 2021

Restaurant Trends

As we focus on what 2021 is going to bring, it’s good to see what restaurant trends helped them survive 2020.

Why should we do this? Because, if they could drive success in a market that tough, they’re good tools to ensure survival in other hard times. And I think we all know there will be more rocky roads ahead.

Like the old saying goes, “proper planning prevent poor performance.” So, let’s stay prepared so that we’re ready for anything.

Restaurants Trends for Survival

Streamlined Menus

2020 Restaurant trends

All F&B industry professionals know the value of minimalization and cross-utilization. But, in our excitement to innovate we can sometimes lose track of just how valuable it is.

Streamlining prevents waste, overbuying, excessive labor costs, and much more. Restaurants keen to stay keep serving even in the face of dining room shutdowns found success in cutting their menus down to select items.

Menu mainstays include consumer favorites, items that travel well, and profitable items. Savvy restaurants found ways to use existing ingredients in new ways to keep things exciting.

Sauces are an excellent way to stay simple while promoting flavor. They go pretty much anywhere, and a single sauce can be used interchangeably on multiple items. Buffalo chicken wings, spicy buffalo burger, loaded buffalo fries, buffalo cauliflower, and so on.

Sides and Such

Restaurant Survival Tips

One popular trend from COVID is referred to as “blended meals.” In this case, for instance, a consumer makes their own entrée at home, but orders appetizers and sides from their favorite restaurant.

This can happen in many ways. Make a vegetable stir fry at home, order pot stickers and spicy edamame from the restaurant down the street. This spaghetti is great, but it would be even better with a few giant meatballs and breadsticks from the Italian restaurant next door.

This is another example of a great way to extend a menu without adding extra items. Sell marinara smothered meatballs as a side. Offer any menu sauce as an add-on item. See what innovative ways you can give customers what they want while you focus on food quality and safety.

Bundled Meals

Pizza Trends

Bundled meals turned out to be a great option for families and roommates. Not only could you get a great entrée and sides but having drinks and dessert for one price made life easier.

Restaurants even had the great idea of serving larger portions so there could be leftovers for the next day. This is the type of value, when paired with quality food, that excited consumers who were busy balancing the craziness of a new style of everyday life with their bank accounts.

Box deal pizzas with an-extra large salad and cinnamon bread, family-size baked ziti with roasted vegetables and tiramisu, and whole BBQ briskets with sides, sauce, and bread pudding are just some of the offerings of 2020.

Comfort Foods

Comfort Foods

This is a trend that won’t be going anywhere anytime soon. Comfort foods of all types are still selling big at restaurants nationally. Whether it’s fried chicken, lasagna, or a hearty soup or stew, they’re bound to make customers happy.

Focusing on foods that inspire memories of feel-good times will be a good idea going forward. Plus, these types of foods tend to allow cross-utilization. Fried chicken can be on a sandwich, in a wrap, dipped, dunked, or slathered. Stews can become pot pies or hand pies, and leftover lasagna can be breaded and fried or made into a soup.

Now You’re Ready

Armed with these restaurant trends, you can be prepared for whatever comes next. Hopefully, you won’t need them. Hopefully soon we can get back to business as usually. But, best to be ready for anything. And we’ll be here to help you make the most out of any situation.

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April 5th, 2021

Guajillo Chile is the Flavor of the Moment

Posted in Consumer Trends, Food Trends, Sauce

Guajillo Chile Makes a Bold Statement

Guajillo Chile

Image courtesy of WorldSpice.com

2021 looks to be the year of chiles and spice, and the guajillo chile is already making a big splash.

The guajillo pepper in its fresh form is called a mirasol pepper. When dried, it develops a leathery skin and a complex fruity and smoky flavor. With a flavor hybrid of raisin and chipotle.

It has a medium spiciness, ranging from 2,500 to 5,000 Scoville Heat Units. This makes it slightly spicier than a poblano but milder than your average jalapeño.

In Mexico you’ll most commonly find guajillo chiles in moles, but they also find their way into salsas and marinades. Their dark brown color creates a beautiful, deep, rich looking sauce akin to chocolate.

Guajillo Chilies on the Rise

How Common is it?

Guajillo Chile Salsa

Photo courtesy of PepperScale.com.

Right now, guajillo chilies rest at the “Adoption” phase of Datassential’s Menu Adoption Cycle. This means that it’s gaining traction, but still unique. You’ll find guajillo at progressive fast casuals and specialty grocery stores, like Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s.

According to Datassential, this smoky little delight is on about 2.8% of menus nationwide, but that’s up 28% over the past for years. So, there’s definitely interest brewing. While only 14% of the population has tried it, 29% of the population knows about it. That means there’s a good opportunity to expose curious new consumers to the flavor in the form of a special sauce or LTO.

Where Can You Find Guajillo on Menus?

Chile Trends

Image courtesy of RickBayless.com.

As stated above, it’s still working its way into the mainstream, but has nonetheless permeated some recognizable menus.

The most standout of which would be Xoco, Rick Bayless’s fast-casual restaurant in Chicago. He puts guajillo center stage in his short rib sandwich made with guajillo-braised short ribs, grilled cactus salad, avocado, and black beans.

It’s also featured on menus in places like Dirt Candy, TAG Restaurants, and at Proof and Provision in Atlanta. This, of course, is only a small smattering of establishments finding the rich complexity of guajillo a winning ingredient.

Even retail brands like Pace Picante and Humble House Sauces have launched salsas featuring guajillo chilies.

What Does This Mean?

Food Trends

Image courtesy of WoodlandFoods.com

It means guajillo is growing in recognition and becoming a safe option to explore on your restaurant’s menu. Adding guajillo concentrates and salsas to items like sour cream and mayonnaise balance out the heat with creaminess and cool flavors. These are great for sandwiches and wraps.

Consider adding guajillo to fresh house salsas to add bold flavor and offer another menu item without adding multiple ingredients. Or even drop a whole chile into soups, stews, and chilis to add a unique flavor that’ll help you stand out among competitors. Your imagination is the limit.

A Chile with Depth

The smoky, slightly piquant, and sweet/tart nature of guajillo chiles make them a safe bet for menu experimentation. And with trends pushing towards specific chile flavors and piquant foods, the time is right to get in front of customers.

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March 15th, 2021

Fried Chicken Sandwiches: 2020 in Review

Posted in Consumer Trends, Food Trends, Restaurants

2020 Was a Banner Year for Fried Chicken Sandwiches

2020 proved to be a great year for innovation around fried chicken sandwiches, with creative ideas and bold flavors. And as we’ve already seen in 2021, the love for fried chicken continues.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the best fried chicken sandwiches of 2020 and how they could affect trends in 2021.

2020 in Fried Chicken Sandwiches

Famous Dave’s

Fried Chicken Sandwiches

Image courtesy of ChewBoom.com

Our first inclusion is Famous Dave’s Iris’ Comeback Chicken Sandwich. This crunchy concoction features a fried chicken breast on a brioche bun with two spicy pickles and comeback sauce. What’s “comeback sauce?” It’s a savory and spicy chile-infused mayonnaise sauce popular in the Southeast.

Think of it like a fiery aioli made by simply combining a flavorful chile sauce or paste with mayonnaise and some seasonings. It’s an easy upgrade to any menu.

Quaker Steak & Lube

Fried Chicken Sandwich Trends

Image courtesy of PRNewswire.com.

Quaker Steak & Lube jumped on a few great trends of 2020 with their Buffalo Chicken Sandwich. It’s a grilled or fried chicken breast tossed in hot buffalo sauce and served over shredded lettuce, tomato, onion, and dill pickle chips on a brioche bun.

It may be a classic, but when done right with a killer buffalo sauce, it’s also a plow horse of a menu item. The key is getting a buffalo sauce that’s just spicy enough to keep adventurous eaters happy, but not so hot that it makes other diners wary to order.

Lucille’s Smokehouse Bar-B-Que

2020 Restaurant Trends

Image courtesy of LucillesBBQ.com.

Keeping up with the spicy trend, Lucille’s went all in with their Nashville Hot chicken Sandwich. Featuring a spicy fried chicken breast, sweet pickles, coleslaw, and Alabama white barbecue sauce on a brioche bun, it does a great job of balancing the heat with sweet and creamy flavors.

And Lucille’s certainly isn’t the only one to launch a Nashville Hot build. BJ’s, Yard House, and even Red Lobster all jumped on the trend in 2020 as well. Fine by us, the more the merrier when it comes to Nashville Hot.

Lucille’s also launched a Crispy Hot-Honey Chicken Sandwich in 2020. A similar build as the Nashville Hot, except it’s tossed in a sweet/hot honey glaze.

Roy Rogers

Food Trend Reviews

Image courtesy of RestaurantBusinessOnline.com.

Our final entry on the list goes all in on upgraded BBQ flavors. Roy Rogers launched a Bacon Bourbon Chicken Sandwich that hits just the right balance of sweet, smoky, tangy, and savory. It’s a breaded and fried chicken breast (or grilled breast), with bacon, Bourbon Street Sauce (a sweet and tangy bourbon-flavored sauce) and pepper Jack cheese on a bun.

That hint of heat from the pepper Jack cheese is really the difference maker here. It does a great job of balancing the sweet and smoky flavors of the Bourbon Street Sauce.

What’s Next for 2021?

Time will tell. But we’d guess you’ll see innovative new takes on crispy chicken sandwiches featuring global flavors like curry and Korean BBQ. And with a reinvigoration for Chinese American cuisine, we wouldn’t be shocked to find a General Tso’s or a Kung Pao making a national debut, either.

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March 1st, 2021

Trustworthy Trends During COVID

Posted in Consumer Trends, Food Trends, Restaurants

A Few COVID Foods Trends You Can Rely On

With new items seemingly appearing overnight, it’s good to have a few trustworthy trends you can expect to drive business in 2021.

During the 2020 MUFSO conference, trend analyst Nancy Kruse gave out her bankable trends going into 2021. These include things like vegetables, nostalgic meals, and global flavors. Let’s dive into each of these and see how they could benefit your restaurant.

Trustworthy Restaurant Trends

Vegetables

Trustworthy Trends

Veggies continue to get attention on menus nationally. 2019 saw vegetables get sincere center-of-the-plate attention, and now in 2021 they’re getting all over the plate attention. Restaurants across the country are finding new and exciting ways to utilize vegetables.

Several pizza chains, like Donato’s, Blaze, Jet’s and California Pizza Kitchen have introduced cauliflower crusts. Dos Toros has released cauliflower rice as a base for their bowls. Even Taco Bell announced a return to serving potatoes on their menu, which can be substituted for any protein.

Driven by health and environmental concerns, there’s no doubt vegetables will continue to drive menu innovation and consumer interest.

Global Flavors

COVID Food Trends

Global flavors are continuing to pop up on menus universally. Domino’s launched a Taco Pizza, while IHOP launched a line of poblano burritos and bowls.

Even restaurants that focus on American regional fares have jumped on board, evidenced by Zaxby’s General Tso’s Chicken.

There are no real rules about where global flavors need to live. They can be seasonings, specialty ingredients, or entire menu items. Sauces are an especially easy way to add global flair to existing menu items. Use them to dip, drizzle, or slather onto your customer’s favorite menu items for safe experimentation they’ll love.

Retro Meals

Chinese food trends

Let’s face it, for better or worse, the 80’s and 90’s are back. Don’t believe me? Just check out casual-dining chain Lazy Dog’s line of TV dinners. The Cheese Enchilada dinner. It comes with house-made chipotle ranchero sauce and cinnamon churro caramel cake, all housed in a compartmentalized tin container.

Chinese American cuisine is also making a comeback. We’ve already referenced Zaxby’s General Tso’s chicken, but don’t be surprised to see items like kung pao, lemon chicken, and beef and broccoli return to mainstream menus. Only now, they’ll feature cleaner ingredients and modern twists.

Where Do These Fit on Your Menu?

That’s what you should be asking yourself. Act quick to be on top of these broad new trends. They’re easy to execute and are bound to drive sales and interest. Don’t forget, people still love to dip and dunk, so make life easy with on trend sauce upgrades.

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February 15th, 2021

Restaurants Increase Customer Satisfaction During COVID

Posted in Consumer Trends, Restaurants, Technology

Restaurant Business May be Down, but Customer Satisfaction is Up

Customer satisfaction

Even through these hard times, it’s great to see that restaurants are succeeding at increasing customer satisfaction during COVID. Recently, Black Box Intelligence™, a data and insights provider for the hospitality industry, released a study showing showcasing this.

Here are some of the main takeaways.

Restaurants Show Increased Customer Satisfaction During COVID

The Hard Facts

Customer satisfaction

Fourth quarter of 2020 was no friend to most restaurant businesses. In fact, by December, overall same-store sales growth had dropped -13.3% year-over-year. Traffic growth also fell to -18.6%.

Reasons for the downturn include spiking COVID-19 rates, colder weather, and tighter dining restrictions. In some states, like California, on-premises dining was banned completely for a time, which clearly weighs heavy on these statistics.

It’s also difficult to build consumer trust right now. Restaurants are leveraging social media technology to communicate with diners and humanize the business, but that can only go so far. Without the ability to greet and court customers in person, it’s an uphill battle.

The Bright Spots

 

Pizza Restaurants

But, if there’s a glimpse of sunshine in all of that dark data, it’s this: Black Box Intelligence™ suggests restaurants were able to raise their positive brand sentiment in December.

Without ambience as a focal point for customer satisfaction, the focus has shifted to safety and cleanliness, which has been a priority among restaurants.

Also, not only did brand sentiment increase, but so did positive perceptions of food and service. In fact, 50% of mentions and online reviews spoke of the food received from restaurants in a positive light. This is great news for those F&B businesses working to adapt to the new style of dining.

Who’s Coming Out on Top?

Quick Service

The driver behind the sentiment increases were mainly seen in limited (quick) service restaurants. Quick-service foods tend to withstand the perils of food transport better and the concepts are often built around the convenience and flexibility of ordering.

Many limited-service restaurants were already accustomed to online, drive-through, or window orders, which made the adaptation much easier.

Even more, customers have now come to expect digital ordering technology from restaurants.

According to the Black Box Intelligence™ study, 1 in 4 customers would choose a restaurant that has app-based ordering over another without. For now, the tech is an edge, but soon it will be the expectation.

Other Insights

Interestingly, value was much less important to customers, in relation to satisfaction at least, than safety and food quality. However, that doesn’t mean value isn’t important, just not top of mind for consumers currently.

Value is a tentpole of earning return customers, so it certainly shouldn’t be ignored. But the takeaway here is this: Make high quality food that’s easy to access and provided in a safe environment, then worry about the value. This hierarchy of importance will ensure consistent consumer traffic to the extent COVID will allow.

What About the Future?

on-premises-dining

With all that being said, 64% of consumers would still prefer a traditional dining experience.

Consumers are adapting to the situation at hand, yet they still yearn for the normalcy of past years. Once socialization returns to a new normal, it’s expected that the restaurant experience will draw folks back into dining rooms.

Unfortunately, there’s no way to know when this will happen. Therefore, it will be important to the success of restaurants to adapt to the current landscape in order to make it back to profitability.

However, keep in mind; in-house it will likely not return to pre-pandemic levels. At least not anytime soon. Therefore, having technology, off-premises dining solutions, and safety practices in place will help create a holistic method of success which will drive restaurants of the future.

We’ll Get Through This

Yes, there’s bad news here, but there’s also good news, also. Consumers love their restaurants, and they want them to succeed. Even in hard times, they are willing to spend their money on restaurant food. By making it more accessible, it will ensure they consumers will keep supporting restaurants. This reciprocal relationship is the bedrock of ensuring the future of our beloved food and beverage industry.

Source

-Black Box Intelligence. “Restaurants succeed in raising guest sentiment in December, despite downturn in sales and traffic.” January 20, 2021. Accessed January 21, 2o21. https://www.nrn.com/finance/restaurants-succeed-raising-guest-sentiment-december-despite-downturn-sales-and-traffic

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February 1st, 2021

New Menu Items January 2021

Posted in Consumer Trends, Food Trends

January 2021 New Menu Items See Fried Chicken Taking Center Stage

fried-chicken

The first month of the year has passed and the January 2021 New Menu Items prove that comfort foods are still thriving.

In fact, fried chicken is clearly the favorite for the new year. Whether it’s sweet or spicy, the crispy, savory nature of “fricken” (fried + chicken) continues to drive consumers wild.

Let’s take a look at what was released in January.

January 2021 New Menu Items

Boston Market

January 2021 New Menu Items

Photo courtesy of QSRMagazine.com.

Boston Market continues their innovation run with a new Nashville-Style Hot Crispy Chicken Sandwich. It’s a breaded and fried chicken breast with smoky hot sauce, pickles, and ranch dressing on a buttery brioche bun. Nashville Hot is getting more popular every month and is something that should be on your flavor radar.

The Habit Burger Grill

Fried Chicken

Photo courtesy of FoodBusinessNews.net

The burger bosses at Habit Burger are shaking their tailfeathers with their new double-breaded Crispy Chicken Bites. Served with smoky barbecue sauce, these fried chicken breast nuggets feature “cridges” — extra pieces of fried batter for added texture. More texture equals more surface area for sauce, and that’s always a good thing.

Teriyaki Madness

Fried chicken trends

Photo courtesy of teriyakimadness.com

Teriyaki Madness is hitting the sweet+heat trend with their brand new “Mad Sauce.” It’s a craveable sauce that starts sweet on the palate but then becomes spicy over time. It’s available for no extra charge on entrées and also available as a dipping sauce. We suggest putting it on your entrée and requesting a little more for dipping.

Zaxby’s

2021 New Menu Items

Photo courtesy of QSRMagazine.com

Zaxby’s is throwing a curveball in their southern lineup with their new General Tso’s Boneless Wings. The meal features boneless wings in sweet plus heat General Tso’s sauce with ranch dressing, crinkle cut fries, Texas toast, and a 22-ounce beverage. It’s an east/south fusion guaranteed to make your mouth water.

It’s Pretty Clear

Fried chicken is going to be a steady part of 2021 menu trends. What better way to mix it up and keep customers excited than with flavorful sauces? Whether drenched or dipped, you can’t go wrong.

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January 4th, 2021

Favorite 2020 New Menu Items – A Review

Posted in Consumer Trends, Restaurants

Cravings for Pizza, Wings, BBQ, and Heat Drove 2020 New Menu Items

pizza-cover-photo

Before we get to the review of our favorite 2020 new menu items, we’d like to wish you a Happy New Year!

Yes, it’s official. 2020 is over and 2021 is here. It’s a warm, wonderful place where hope springs eternal. Glad to see you here with us!

2020 brought unprecedented challenges to the food and beverage industry. From supply chain disruptions to on-premise dining closures, the hits just kept coming. But if there’s one thing our industry is known for, it’s perseverance and adaptability.

Therefore, it’s those characteristics we want to celebrate today. To do so, we’re looking at some of the best new menu items that rolled out in 2020. Not only do these illustrate what 2020 was like, they also offer insight into what 2021 could bring. Will the plant-based revolution continue? Will spicy and smoky flavors continue to penetrate menus nationally? Will everyone just start selling chicken wings!?

I’d guess at least two of those three examples will happen. But, for now, let’s check out the best of 2020 New Menu Items.

2020 Best of New Menu Items

Fazoli’s

2020 New menu items

Photo courtesy of Fazolis.com

Fazoli’s shirked expected losses in 2020 with innovation and boldness. Aside from launching a to-go only wing brand (Wingville), they also launched the wildly popular Buffalo Chicken Mac & Cheese. It featured cavatappi pasta in Asiago sauce topped with chopped bacon, fried chicken pieces tossed in spicy buffalo sauce, and Parmesan peppercorn ranch dressing. Speaking of Wingville, they’ve been knocking it out of the park with unique wing flavors like Hot Honey BBQ and Thai Sweet Chile. Can’t wait to see what they do next!

Uno Pizzeria & Grill

2020 New Menu Items

Photo courtesy of NRN.com

The innovators at Uno Pizzeria stayed up late to launch their No Dough Sausage Pie. This low-carb behemoth featured a “crust” of sausage filled with shredded mozzarella cheese and a new, chunkier tomato sauce, finished with Pecorino Romano cheese. If going keto means eating like this, we could get on board.

Oath Pizza

Oath Pizza

Photo courtesy of Forbes.com

The talented folks at Oath Pizza decided to take the idea of family-style to-go dinners to a whole new level with their Care Packages. These mail order pizza kit packages feature all the ingredients you need to prepare and cook their delicious pizzas in the comfort of your own home. The Bestseller Care Package includes one Spicy Mother Clucker Pizza featuring roasted chicken and spicy sriracha sauce.

Blaze Pizza

Image courtesy of Blazepizza.com

Image courtesy of Blazepizza.com

Blaze Pizza also hit the make it yourself trend with their DIY Pizza Kits. These featured a dough ball, dusting flour, sauce, and your choice of toppings to the make pizza right at home. These were a great way to bring families together in the kitchen.

Grimaldi’s Pizzeria

New Menu Items 2020

Photo courtesy of Grimaldis.com

Grimaldi’s landed on the list this year with their Barbeque Chicken Pizza. Topped with sweet and tangy barbecue sauce, roasted chicken, bacon, red onion, and cilantro, it proved to be a winner with customers. I expect to see more BBQ pizzas with toppings other than chicken finding space on menus in 2021.

On the Border

2020 Menu in review

Photo courtesy of FSRmagazine.com

On the Border responded to dining room closures with their own type of family meal: Build-Your-Own Taco Kits. These featured 10 soft or crispy taco shells, choice of seasoned ground beef or chicken tinga, lettuce, tomato, and grated cheese. Plus, a bowl of queso sauce, Mexican rice, refried beans, chips, and salsa to boot. The perfect complement for Taco Tuesdays at home.

Carrabba’s Italian Grill

Italian Food Trends

Photo courtesy of FSRmagazine.com

Carrabba’s released a bevy of new items, both planned and in response to restaurant closings, in 2020. New rollouts included Carrabba’s Family Bundles meant to serve up to five people, their new house-made Lasagna, and marinara sauce smothered Chicken Parmesan topped with freshly grated Romano cheese.

Pizza Hut

Pizza Hut Trends

Photo courtesy of blog.pizzahut.com

Never one to be idle, Pizza Hut also found footing in the surge of plant-based requests flooding 2020. Their response was the launch of the Beyond Italian Sausage Pizza featuring tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese topped with meatless Beyond Italian Sausage crumbles, and the Great Beyond Pizza featuring Beyond Italian Sausage, chopped tomatoes, sliced red onions, and banana peppers. Pizza Hut also satisfied customers’ love for heat with the launch of their Nashville Hot chicken wings. Zesty!

So Long 2020, It’s Been Bittersweet

So, let’s celebrate the wins and band together to make 2021 a year even more memorable through menu innovation and flavor experiences. Consumers are looking for bold moves this year, let’s not disappoint!

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