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 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 18th, 2021

How Pizza Changed in 2020

Posted in Food Trends, Pizza

Pizza Continues to Prove its Adaptability

Pizza Popularity during COVID-19

Looking at how pizza changed in 2020 is a great way to see what consumers want to see in food trends. It’s basically the finger on the pulse of innovation.

Why is this? Because pizza is not only ubiquitously loved in almost every demographic, but it’s also the perfect platform for flavor creativity. Think about some of the crazy pizzas you’ve seen over the past few years: Unicorn pizza, the Hot Dog Bites pizza, or the 30-lb taco pizza from Tony Boloney’s in New Jersey.

While these pizzas may not have the resilience of classic pepperoni, they do prove something. You can put almost anything on a pizza and people will enjoy it.

But let’s look past the more “viral” pizza endeavors to those with staying power. Here’s how 2020 changed pizza forever.

How 2020 Changed Pizza

Crusts Rethought

2020 Pizza Trends

Photo courtesy of foodbusinessnews.com

Let’s start at the bottom.

2020 showed a heavy investment in changing what the crust of a pizza could be. Many of these iterations, like the Fathead Pizza from Boston’s and the trio of Donatos pizzas all featuring cauliflower crusts, were born from excitement around the low-carb diets. 1000 Degrees Pizza also launched a cauliflower crust in partnership with Caulipower®, but their intent was more focused on the power of vegetables.

Uno Pizzeria launched a Sausage Crust Pizza, which, if you couldn’t guess, featured a crust made from Italian sausage. But it’s not all about less carbs. Pizza Hut made a bold move with their Mozzarella Poppers Pizza, and both Cici’s and Little Caesars added a crispy cheese crust to the offerings.

Other innovations included fried chicken pizza crusts, Alfredo stuffed crust, and bacon-wrapped crusts.

Plant-Based Meats

How 2020 Changed Pizza

Photo courtesy of foodbusinessnews.com

2020 became the year of plant-based (PB) proteins. With a mix of trends around health, environment, and the humane treatment of animals coupled with the leap forward in plant-based protein quality, it was the perfect opportunity for PB proteins to shine.

Pizza Hut launched a duo of Beyond Italian Sausage™ Pizzas, Donatos launched a trio of plant-based pizzas, and Papa Murphy’s went with a PB pepperoni offering. All of these options were well-received by the restaurants’ customer bases and show promise for a future of plant-based protein innovation.

Global Flavors

Photo courtesy of foodbusinessnews.net

Photo courtesy of foodbusinessnews.net

Global flavors have been rising for some time now, but it seems pizzas are going to help take things to the mainstream. 2020 had some surprising hits around the concept of globally influenced pizzas.

Domino’s successfully launched a Chicken Taco Pizza, while Jet’s Pizza made waves with their Mexican Pizza featuring chorizo and jalapenos. Also, Topper’s Pizza made a great run with their Vegan Korean BBQ Chicken-Less pizza (also hitting the PB protein trend), while California based Pizza Guys launched a Curry Veggie Delight pizza featuring curry seasoning, potatoes, and garlic sauce.

Finally, fast-casual chain Your Pie went a step further with their Chicken Al Pastor Pizza topped with avocado pineapple salsa, jalapenos, and smoked-chipotle ranch sauce.

Hot Hot Heat

2020 Pizza Trends

Photo courtesy of NRN.com

Lastly, heat is in. This observation, however, is not new, it’s more of a constantly building trend. We’ve seen piquant pizzas for some time, but the creativity in heat is starting to change.

Nashville Hot Chicken pizzas, for example, are a more non-traditional way to get heat on pizza. Chains like MOD pizza are using specific chile callouts (i.e. the Calabrian chile red sauce) to drive interest in new forms of heat. Even pizza adjacent categories like condiments are driving the heat trend. A great example is the growth of New York-based Mike’s Hot Honey.

Brooklyn Ave. Pizza Co. combines heat and global flavors with their Latino Pie featuring a spicy poblano pepper mole sauce. That’s a lot more interesting than sprinkling on some chili flakes!

Order Up!

Consumer trends will continue to reshape what a pizza can be, while culinary innovators will continue to reshape trends with ambitious pizza platforms to excite and intrigue. Around and around, we go. Pizza is proving to be the world’s most interesting culinary merry-go-round; whose limitations are only those of the imagination. What trends do you think we’ll see next in pizza? Let us know in the comments below.

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December 7th, 2020

New Menu Items December 2020

Posted in Consumer Trends, Food Trends

Smoke & Spice Define December’s New Menu Items

peppers

December is here, which means we’ve got your last New Menu Items spotlight for the year. It’s been a wild one, but I’m happy to say we end on a familiar note.

Of all the trends 2020 has seen, smoke and spice have been a thread tying the year together. Whether it came from comfort foods like BBQ and chicken wings, or the continued evolution of tacos and pizza as a medium for global flavors, smoke and spice found its way in.

December proves to be no different with heavy flavors of smoke and piquant sauces (with one outlier) for bold statements. Here’s what we’re seeing:

December 2020 New Menu Items

Black Seed Bagels

December New Menu Items

Image courtesy of citytour.com

New York’s Black Seed Bagels, a first-timer on our list, makes a splash with their Oxomoco Barbacoa Bagel Sandwich. It features roasted lamb and salsa made with morita chiles and tomatillos, topped with a fried egg and pickles on a bagel of your choice. This item is made in collaboration with Justin Bazdarich, chef of Oxomoco restaurant in Brooklyn, and highlights the trend for specific chile callouts on menus.

Chipotle

New Menu Items December 2020

Image courtesy of delish.com

Chipotle is coming in strong with their new smoked brisket. It’s seasoned with spices including garlic, cumin, and coriander, seared on the griddle, and tossed in a spicy sauce that compliments the smoky flavor. It’s only being released regionally for now, but other chains have found success with brisket (Torchy’s, Arby’s, Little Caesars, etc.) so, I expect this to last.

Grimaldi’s Pizzeria

Food Trends

Image courtesy of FSRmagazine.com

Grimaldi’s Pizzeria is another first-time New York business on the list this month with their new Chicken alla Vodka Pizza. It features a standard pizza skin topped with chicken, onions, mozzarella cheese, basil, and tomato cream sauce. Vodka sauces are a simple yet delicious way to mix up the menu by simply combining house pizza or marinara sauce with cream or even Alfredo sauce.

Smashburger

December Food Trends

Image courtesy of QSRmagazine.com

The always innovative Smashburger has launched a smoky Pulled Pork Tailgater Burger for December. It features smoked pulled pork, caramelized onions, and Swiss cheese on a Certified Angus Beef patty on a pretzel bun with spicy mustard. An addition of their house BBQ sauce adds a tangy twist worth trying.

See You Next Year, Trend Hunters!

But, before then, make sure your menu hits on the smoke and spice trends. It’s a great way to keep your customers warm and satisfied this winter.

Comment below with trends you’re seeing or how you plan on adding these flavors to your menu. We’d love to hear about your innovation.

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November 16th, 2020

2021 COVID Food Trends

Posted in Food Trends, Healthy

Food Trends to Expect as We Head into 2021

It may seem crazy to start anticipating 2021 COVID food trends, but there’s already plenty of information available on what food life may look like.

As we know, this year has led to the rise of comfort food. The stress of the world around us partnered with stay-at-home orders, food distribution issues, and hoarding led to many consumers wanting to curl up with their favorite food. This nostalgic touch of normal has helped us stay grounded in tough times.

But those same comforts and limitations have led to unwanted side effects on health. Depression, weight gain, and nutrient deficiencies have all been on the rise as we’ve lost time in the sun and access to healthy hobbies. Therefore, it’s no surprise that consumers are looking towards health and wellness in 2021.

2021 COVID Food Trends

Healthy Snacking

2021 COVID Food Trends

Snacking is up across the board. As people work from home and find more flexibility in their daily schedule, they’re also finding more time to snack. 26% of U.S. consumers snack multiple times a day, and another third snack at least once daily; 38% say they replace meals with snacks (usually lunch) at least occasionally.

As consumers work to get back to their “pre-COVID weight,” a strong draw will be to find healthier snacks. Outside of the retail setting, this means bite-size restaurant eats made with vegetables, lean meats, or whole/ancient grains. Even if weight loss is a focus, it can’t take the place of exciting flavor (like bold sauces!).

Plant-Based

Food Trends 2021

Plant-based foods are no fad. They are here to stay and they can provide an excellent health-focused option. Home preparation of plant-based proteins like dry beans and lentils, tofu, and homemade veggie burgers are helping people discover that good nutrition can be delicious. This can translate directly to restaurants, where that exposure will lead to plant-based menu choices.

An important fact to keep in mind on this note, however, is that more than ever consumers are reading nutrition labels. Those labels need to reflect recognizable ingredients. Consumers are actively steering away from ingredient labels that sound like science experiments.

Restaurants can capitalize on this with flavor-forward plant-based options tying into nostalgic favorites. Plant-based buffalo chicken or meatless marinara are excellent options. Both provide immense flavor boosts without blowing out the caloric limit.

Functional Foods

Functional Foods Trends 2021

Coronavirus has done a great job of opening consumers’ eyes to the power of foods and their functions. 2021 will undoubtedly showcase foods that offer a functional benefit, like immune and energy boosts.

This is a great opportunity to enhance dishes by packing them with protein, vitamin C, vitamin D, and zinc, among others. And with family mealtime becoming a norm once again, creating dishes that benefit the whole family will be an added bonus.

Opportunity is Knocking…

Will you answer? Now is the time to start planning your menus and products for 2021. Using these characteristics aligned with bold, craveable flavors, you can ensure your place with the diner of next year.

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October 19th, 2020

Detroit Style Pizza is Winning the Pandemic

Posted in Consumer Trends, Food Trends, Restaurants

Detroit Style Pizza Hits on Satisfaction & Nostalgia

Detroit Style Pizza

Photo courtesy of Via313.com

Detroit style pizza is winning the pandemic. Yes, big statement for sure. I mean, can anything or anyone really win the pandemic? Maybe, maybe not. But, if anything comes close, it’s Detroit style pizza.

What is Detroit Style Pizza?

First thing’s first, let’s answer what Detroit style pizza actually is. Basically, Detroit style pizza refers to a deep, square pie, traditionally cooked in blue steel pans that were also used by Detroit automotive manufacturers at the time. They have caramelized cheese crusts and a generous pour of sauce on top of the pizza when finished.

Detroit Style Pizza

For long-time readers, you may remember a story we did on Austin’s very own Via 313 Pizza. Now with multiple locations and no sign of slowing down, they came on the scene with plenty of time to reap the benefits of this trend. Their popularity has been so high, they’ve essentially become a monopoly in the market, with no other restaurants even attempting to edge into their territory.

Why Now?

As we’ve noted during the pandemic, comfort food has been a driving trend, finding its way into fast food, QSRs, and brick and mortar restaurants alike. Right alongside comfort food during this trend change has been pizza. Ubiquitously popular, craveable, and supremely portable, pizza has weathered the storm better than almost all of its culinary counterparts.

So, it makes sense then that Detroit style pizza, with its thick, yeasty crust, crispy/cheesy frico edges, and quirky sauce-on-top characteristic, has found deep roots with diners across the U.S. Aside from comfort food, Detroit style pizza also matches up with the new found love for yeast and sourdough. All those folks at home, who learned how to make their own starter or fell in love with the art of yeasted bread, have found a kindred spirit in Detroit style pizza.

Where is it Gaining Ground?

Detroit Pizza

Photo courtesy of la.eater.com

It’s gaining ground in some of the best markets in the U.S. In fact, a bevy of new Detroit style pizza restaurants have opened in Los Angeles, including the likes of Dough Daddy and Schell’s Pizza Hole. And these launched during the toughest parts of the pandemic.

In the last two months in Dallas, three new ghost kitchens have opened slinging the chewy pies. Even the well-renown and highly respected Cane Rosso restaurant group has gotten in the game with their new concept, Thunderbird Pies.

The popularity for this pie has also redoubled in Detroit, its home turf. One of the original makers in the game, Detroit Style Pizza Co., saw their sales triple overnight after popular internet pizza reviewer David Portnoy of  One Bite Pizza Reviews gave the pie a stellar rating of 8.5 out of 10.

Denver, Seattle, San Francisco, New York, and Tampa, among many other cities, have all seen Detroit style pizza restaurants open during the pandemic. This shows you how strong the trend is currently driving. Even major chains like Jet’s, Little Caesars, and Pizza Hut have tested DSP in regional markets, meaning it’s bound to keep gaining steam.

Pizza Trends

Photo courtesy of facebook.com/thunderbirdpies/

What’s Next?

Time will tell. But, for now we know that consumers will be sticking with comfort foods, especially going into the winter. While there’s a push for healthier options, there’s also a strong desire for decadence. Because of that, coupled with our deep love for familiar items with a twist, Detroit style pizza has staying power and it’s a trend worth jumping on.

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October 5th, 2020

New Menu Items October 2020

Posted in Food Trends, Restaurants

October New Menu Items Offer Variety and Portability

A new month is upon us, therefore it’s time to look at the national new menu items for October 2020. For those of you familiar with our posts, you’ll know we usually find a common thread that links new menu items together. A trend for spicy foods, or plant-based, for example. This month, however, it seems the trend is variety and portability (with a splash of BBQ sauce, for sure).

As we begin to pivot into the winter months, restaurants are looking for ways to diversify menus to off-set the inevitable loss from inhospitable outdoor dining conditions. One way to do this is to offer items that are easily portable and speak to a wide range of customers, including kids and families.

The October new menu items certainly reflect this need for diversity. Let’s take a look at what’s out there.

October 2020 New Menu Items

Fazoli’s

October Menu Trends

Image courtesy of Fazolis.com

Our friends at Fazoli’s are shaking up their Italian-focused menu with some continental fun. They will now be serving breaded and fried chicken wings in a variety of savory flavors, including mild, medium, or hot buffalo, hot honey BBQ sauce, and Asian chile sauce, among others.

Why this may seem to not fit their Italian mold, it’s a smart business move. Now, customers have lots of fun options when ordering and Fazoli’s found a way to grab another market of consumers with minimal in-house changes.

Lion’s Choice

Menu Items October 2020

Image courtesy of STLmag.com.

Lion’s Choice is focused on grabbing a younger demographic with their new Turkey Dipper. This is a handheld item of roasted turkey and Provel cheese in baked flatbread with a side of marinara sauce for dipping, served with apple slices and a drink. A perfectly complete meal for the kids.

Modern Market Eatery

New Menu Items

Image courtesy of ModernMarket.com

Mod Market is going all-in on their new blackened chicken options. One of which is their BBQ Pizza, topped with barbecue sauce, blackened chicken thigh, red onion, green onion, cilantro, and pepper Jack cheese. It’s a solid favorite among diners with a new twist by including blackened chicken thigh. This item will only be available until November 11th.

O’Charley’s Restaurant & Bar

Carolina Gold BBQ

Photo courtesy of facebook.com/ocharleysfans/

O’Charley’s is coming in with a bevy of new family-style meals, but the standout is their new Carolina Gold Family-Style Meal. It’s a protein packed box of six herb-seasoned, grilled boneless chicken breasts basted with Carolina Gold barbecue sauce and topped with bacon and Monterey Jack cheese, served with rolls and your choice of two family-size sides. Gotta love that Carolina Gold!

Velvet Taco

October Menu Items

Photo courtesy of NRN.com

Velvet Taco, a perennial placeholder here on our new menu items list, hits a new flavor profile with their Sweet Chile Shrimp Taco. This is a panko breaded fried shrimp taco with sweet chile sauce, kimchee slaw, angry crema (with sambal oelek and Sriracha sauce added to it), carrots, pickled Fresno chiles, and green onions in a flour tortilla. Guaranteed to keep you warm in the cold weather.

Your Pie

2020 Menu Trends October

image courtesy of facebook.com/YourPieThornton/

The up and coming franchise Your Pie makes the list for the first time with a pair of new menu items sure to heat things up. They’re offering a Hot Honey Pepperoni Pizza and a Sweet Heat Pepper Pasta, both loaded with savory marinara sauce, pepperoni, pickled jalapenos, and finished with a drizzle of Mike’s Hot Honey. Now we’re cooking with fire!

Make it To Go!

Having a smart, portable menu that satisfies a group of picky eaters is a safe bet to maintain steady business in the coming winter months, as the new menu items above show. It also may not hurt to add a little heat. Make sure you’re planning ahead to keep your customers fed, happy, and calling back for more.

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September 7th, 2020

New Menu Items September 2020

Posted in Food Trends, Restaurants

Pizza Reigns for September New Menu Items

pizza-cover-photo

September’s new menu items have just begun to roll out and we’re getting them to you as quickly as possible. Last month saw a big uptick in spicy items and chicken wings, but September is taking a slightly different route.

For the most part, pizza innovation is driving September’s trends. And really, this shouldn’t be too much of a shock. National pizza chains have been able to stave off the effects of coronavirus a bit better than other brands, thanks to their popularity and native to-go style.

So, let’s see who’s doing what this September and how these items can help you find new flavors for fall.

September 2020 New Menu Items

Domino’s

New Menu Items September 2020

Image courtesy of ChewBoom.com

Domino’s Pizza hits the ground running this month with the launch of two new pizzas. The Chicken Taco Pizza features grilled chicken, taco seasoning, onions, green peppers, diced tomatoes, and American, provolone, and Cheddar cheeses.

The Cheeseburger Pizza hits the nostalgia trend with a tangy ketchup-mustard sauce topped with beef, onions, diced tomatoes, and American, provolone, and Cheddar cheeses. Can’t wait to get a bite of that!

Donatos

September 2020 New Menu Items

Image courtesy of Donatos.com

Donatos Pizza continues to innovate with their cauliflower crust, and this month is no different. The new offering is a Cauliflower Spinach Mozzarella Pizza which features a lower-carbohydrate 10-inch cauliflower crust topped edge-to-edge with baby spinach, plant-based sausage, roasted garlic and a blend of mozzarella, Asiago, smoked provolone, and Romano cheeses. Got my mouth watering already!

Krystal

BBQ Trends

Image courtesy of ChewBoom.com

Krystal is skipping the pizza rush and jumping on the previous BBQ trend with their new Memphis BBQ Sliders. These little devils feature slow-smoked pork in Memphis barbecue sauce with pickle flavor on a steamed bun. Now, I’m all types of curious about that “pickle flavor.”

McDonald’s

Spicy Menu Trends 2020

Image courtesy of LifeSavvy.com

The folks at McDonald’s must’ve caught wind of last month’s blog because they’re getting spicy with a duo of new flavors. First off are the Spicy Chicken McNuggets, featuring a blend of chile peppers in the breading, which you can then pair with their new Mighty Hot Sauce. This concoction is a spicy dipping with crushed red pepper and other chiles.

Papa John’s

2020 Menu Trends

Image courtesy of BrandEating.com

Papa John’s is throwing their hat in the snackable foods ring with the launch of their new Buffalo Chicken Papadia. It’s a folded pizza dough stuffed with grilled chicken and onions, three-cheese blend, buttermilk ranch dressing and fiery Buffalo sauce. Sounds like a perfectly complete handheld snack.

Uno’s

Pizza Trends 2020

Image courtesy of NRN.com

Finally, Uno’s is coming into September guns blazing with a new group of hearty Italian classics. First, try the Deep Dish Meatballs made with beef, pork, ricotta, and Italian seasoning baked with ricotta cheese and marinara sauce and served with pizza chips for dipping. Then, go for the Meatball and Ricotta Deep Dish Pizza overflowing with Deep Dish Meatballs, ricotta cheese, mushrooms, mozzarella cheese, marinara sauce, and Pecorino Romano cheese in a deep-dish crust.

If you’re not full yet, how about the Chicken Parm Sub or the Mom’s Meatball Sub, both served with fries. Or, if all that sounds too heavy, they also launched a Margherita Chicago Thin Crust Pizza, featuring fresh mozzarella, sliced tomato, and basil over pizza sauce on a thin crust. Sounds like all bases are covered (with marinara sauce!).

Ciao for Now!

Apparently, all that Italian food is influencing me. And perhaps it should influence you as well. The weather is starting to turn towards fall and that means warm, comforting flavors are in the air. Jump on trend with your favorite pizza and watch the diners line up for a bite.

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July 6th, 2020

June 2020 National Menu Trends

Posted in Food Trends, Restaurants

National Menus See BBQ and Heat for the Win

June 2020 Menu Trends

June 2020 has seen a massive amount of new menu item rollouts, but there were two stand out trends: BBQ and heat.

Across the board, the sweet and smoky comfort of BBQ along with the rich complexity of spicy new flavors are holding strong in popularity. This makes sense as we’ve seen a large rise in the presence comfort foods and Mexican cuisine on menus since the pandemic has kept consumers home.

So, let’s check out the innovative items that just hit and how you might be able to capitalize on these trends.

June 2020 New Menu Items

Carl’s Jr. & Hardee’s

New Menu Trends June 2020

Photo courtesy of carlsjr.com

The burger masters at Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s decided to go for broke with a duo of new burgers. The Spicy Western Bacon Cheeseburger features smoky BBQ sauce, jalapeno peppers, crispy onion rings, and creamy pepper Jack cheese with a pile of savory bacon. Its sister sandwich, the Beyond Spicy BBQ Cheeseburger, is a meatless Beyond Burger patty with jalapeno peppers, crispy onion rings, and pepper Jack cheese slathered in tangy BBQ sauce. You can’t go wrong either way.

Moe’s Southwest Grill

Moes BBQ Burrito

Photo courtesy of moes.com

Now, you wouldn’t normally think Moe’s when it comes to BBQ, but indeed that’s what they’ve done. They’re now offering a Barbecue (yes, fully spelled out) Burrito and Bowl to satisfy your cravings. Featuring seasoned rice, pinto beans, your choice of protein, savory barbecue sauce, and a tangy Southwest slaw. Hurry to get one soon, they’ll only be available until July 13th.

Roy Rogers

June Menu Trends

Photocourtesy of royrogersrestaurants.com

The culinary team over at Roy Rogers are hitting the spicy trend hard with their new Dynamite Burger. This quarter-pound bacon cheeseburger serves up layers of heat with crispy jalapeno poppers, creamy pepper Jack cheese, and a smoky chipotle ranch on a fluffy Kaiser roll. Think you can handle the heat?

Tropical Smoothie Café

BBQ Trends

Photo courtesy of tropicalsmoothiecafe.com

The folks over at Tropical Smoothie Café want to make sure you know they’re about more than just smoothies. To prove it, they’ve launched a smoky BBQ Pork Quesadilla. Stuffed with barbecue glazed pork, queso blanco, Cheddar, smoked cheese blend, pineapple salsa, and pickled jalapenos, it finds the right balance of sweet, hot, and smoky.

Velvet Taco

Velvet Taco seems to always end up on these lists. It’s no surprise really, they’re known for their bold flavors and experimentation. Which brings us to the new Nashville Chicken and Waffle taco. It features crispy fried chicken tenders tossed in a fiery Nashville hot sauce and amped up with peppered bacon, peppercorn gravy, green apple slaw, maple syrup, and a smoky red chile aioli all stuffed in a crinkly waffle tortilla.

Can You Feel the Heat?

Good! Make sure you’re keeping on trend with bold, smoky, and spicy flavors to keep your guests ordering over and over again. Now, I think I’ll be going to order one of each of these new June 2020 National Menu Trends.

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June 1st, 2020

Food Trends During Coronavirus

Posted in Consumer Trends, Culinary Conferences, Food Trends

How Has COVID-19 Changed Food Trends?

Food Trends During Coronavirus

Food trends during the coronavirus pandemic have, as you might imagine, changed from what earlier predictions may have expected. Isolation and self-preparation of foods has left consumers yearning for comfort and portability over experimentation and presentation.

During a recent RCA PoweredUp session, Mike Kostyo of Datassential discussed this very topic. By monitoring menu and retail trends from over 100,00 national sources, he showcased what consumers are really craving during this time.

Let’s look at some of the top trends highlighted.

Coronavirus Food Trends

Plant-Based Foods

Plant Based Food Trends

2019 marked a major up-tick in plant-based food representation on menus nationally, going from 14% in 2018 to 56% in 2019. Meat sales from April 12 to May 9, 2020 were 28 percent higher than in the four weeks ending Jan. 18, 2020 according to data from Nielsen. Plant-based meat substitutes, had a jump of 35 percent in sales during the same period. The increase for uncooked products was more dramatic: 53 percent for the vegan products versus 34 percent for meat.

Environmental concerns among consumers are also a driver for this trend. In fact, 21% of consumers are interested in plant-based foods for the environmental impact alone. Generation Z is undoubtedly the leader in plant-based food interest, with 64% of Gen. Zs having tried it and 1 in 5 saying they love it. So, if your target audience is comprised of Gen. Z, you should be considering plant-based options on your menus ASAP!

Mexican Food

COVID-19 Food Trends

Whether it’s the bottomless chips and salsa, the energetic social nature of Mexican restaurants, or the ice-cold citrus margaritas, Mexican food leads the pack for the most craved foods during COVID-19.

The tough part with most Mexican foods is portability. The crispy, crunchy tacos and tostadas tend to lose their texture, smothered burritos get a bit soggy, and fajitas just don’t have quite the same flair without the sizzle platter.

Many Mexican restaurants have overcome these limitations by providing deconstructed to go kits, creative to-go packaging with moisture vents, and limited menus to ensure what they are selling travels well. As Mexican restaurants continue to learn how to overcome these limitations (to-go margaritas certainly help!), you can expect this trend to strengthen and cross into other platforms, like pizza and burgers.

Pizza

Pizza Popularity during COVID-19

Most experts expected pizza to be a top trend prior to coronavirus and it looks like they were right. Cravings for pizza have not decreased during the pandemic. In fact, according to QSR magazine, in March the pizza segment of restaurants showed the smallest losses (8%) but were already starting to level off again.

There are many reasons for this. First and foremost, pizza is still the most popular food in America. Additionally, pizza has high value, has been available to bake at home for years, and is essentially designed for delivery, so there was no consumer hurdle to get over when dine-in options closed.

Pizza companies have further increased interest in their products by offering plant-based options, family meal deals, and efficient contactless order and delivery methods.

BBQ

BBQ trends

BBQ, the classic backyard event, and the All-American outdoor activity. Couple that with the warm summer weather and nostalgia for simpler times and it’s no wonder BBQ ranks high on the current trends list. Like meatloaf and apple pie, BBQ is a classic American comfort food.

Restaurants can easily incorporate BBQ items on their menus. Brisket tacos, pulled-pork pizza, and short-rib sandwiches are all crave-worthy inclusions that consumers will love. Plus, BBQ is extremely portable and loses very little quality in transport.

So, get those smokers rolling, the people want ribs!

Is Your Menu Adapting?

We hope so. Check out previous blogs to see what other trends we’ve seen and how restaurants nationally are responding. Chime in below with your thoughts on what’s trending how to attract customers. We love your feedback.

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