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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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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December 21st, 2020

How Restaurants Succeed During a Pandemic

Posted in Restaurants, Technology

Learning How 3 Restaurants Have Grown During COVID

How Restaurants Succeed During a Pandemic

There’s no doubt we’ll all take many lessons from 2020, one of which needs to be how restaurants succeed during a pandemic.

This week, we’re highlighting three restaurants that have found ways to not only survive, but even grow during COVID. Let’s see what lessons we can learn from their successes.

Wingstop

Restaurant successes during a pandemic

Image courtesy of wingstop.com

With an over 25% increase in sales in quarter 3 and consistent gains over the year, Dallas, TX based Wingstop has shirked pandemic expectations. Not only are sales up, but they also launched 43 new stores over the year.

One thing that has helped Wingstop stay profitable is their willingness to adapt and innovate. When expected shortages and price increases threatened chicken wing supplies, the company began experimenting with bone-in chicken thighs to much success.

They’ve also tested the idea of launching ghost kitchens if necessary and have continually invested in technology. This has led to the digital share of Wingstop’s sales to rise 62% this year. The company’s executive leadership credits a combination of culture, technology, and old-fashioned product quality for their current stability.

Domino’s Pizza

Restaurants winning the pandemic

Image courtesy of Dominos.com

Domino’s Pizza reported a 17.5% increase in U.S. same-store sales in the third quarter, which was is strongest sales performance in decades. New product launches and innovation played a strong role in Domino’s success. Specifically, the popularity of the Cheeseburger and Chicken Taco pizzas, plus the redesigned chicken wings.

Additionally, their previous investment in ordering technology has paid off dividends during the pandemic. Where many companies had to pivot in order to launch non-traditional methods of ordering, Domino’s already had these pieces in place. Specifically, the “car-side” delivery option has proven extremely popular.

All of this, however, has to be balanced against the higher costs incurred during the pandemic. While sales are up, so are costs, including safety and sanitation, food costs due to supply chain issues, and employee related costs due to increased sick days. Not to mention, mandated early closing times in high infection rate areas. But none of this overshadows the successes of the model put in place.

Fazoli’s

Pandemic restaurant trends

Image courtesy of Fazolis.com

Fazoli’s has shown an incredible trajectory of growth all year, closing quarter 3 with a 14 percent sales increase, 10 percent increase in traffic, and 217 percent increase in online ordering year-over-year. Against the background of the pandemic, these numbers are nearly unbelievable.

CEO Charles Howard credits this success to serving “craveable Italian dishes at an incredible value” with focuses on service and convenience. With that, some credit does go to the introduction of their virtual wing concept, Wingville.

Since the full company launch in October, Wingville has raked in $350,000 at 56 company locations, and franchisees who are offering Wingville experienced nearly $100,000 in sales in November alone.

Common Threads

common-thread

There are a few common threads one can observe from the success of these companies during such trying times.

Portability is Key

With off-premise dining becoming the primary function of restaurants, and the likelihood that it will remain popular, having a product that can maintain quality during delivery is important. Foods like wings, pizza, and pastas are excellently suited to this.

If your food isn’t inherently suited to take-out, it would be worth looking into how the process can be improved or offering a limited menu for off-premise dining.

Familiarity

Pizza, Italian foods, and chicken wings are all popular, ubiquitous items. For a diner, this means there’s low risk for disappointment.

Value

These companies are all providing good quantities of food for a relatively low cost. When this can be done while maintaining food quality and flavor, it’s a win for all sides.

Technology

Finally, all three companies have put a heavy focus on developing technology or partnering with digital leaders to get their foods in the hands of customers. The ability to access and order food easily through multiple platforms ensures customers don’t have moments of hesitation or frustration.

Congrats to Those Making it Happen

We salute you. And we hope that more of our friends and partners can leverage these assets to ensure the stability of their own businesses. We’re all in this together, after all.

Any tips on how to increase sales during a pandemic? Leave a comment below, we’d love to hear from you.

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November 2nd, 2020

November New Menu Items

Posted in Restaurants, Trends

There’s More Than Turkey in Store for This November

Well, we made it to the first week of November, and you know what that means: November New Menu Items! Am I the only one who hears applause after that?

Anyhow, November is looking like more than just a prelude to Thanksgiving right now. Restaurants are dropping bold new items with flavors like BBQ and chipotle to break up the cranberry coated monotony of turkey season.

Let’s see what’s on deck…

November New Menu Items

Boston Market

November new menu items

Photo courtesy of NRN.com

Boston Market makes the list this month with a bevy of flavorful new items. Offers include a Chicken Chipotle slider, featuring pulled rotisserie chicken with ranch dressing, chipotle sauce and pepper Jack cheese. A BBQ Meatloaf slider with sliced meat loaf, mayonnaise, barbecue sauce, and Cheddar cheese. And finally, a Cheeseburger Mac bowl made with mac & cheese, pico de gallo, Cheddar cheese, barbecue sauce, and meat loaf. That’s comfort with a twist!

California Pizza Kitchen

New Menu Items November

Image courtesy of fastfoodpost.com.

Our friends at California Pizza Kitchen are making a plant-based upgrade we’re super excited to see. The new BBQ “Don’t Call Me Chicken” Pizza is topped with tangy barbecue sauce, smoked Gouda cheese, red onions, cilantro and Chicketts, a plant-based chicken substitute by Worthington Food Service made mostly of wheat gluten and soy protein isolate. I won’t call you chicken, but I may call you dinner…

Donatos

Pizza Trends

Photo courtesy of donatos.com

Coming in strong, Donatos isn’t holding anything back with a bold pair of new pizzas. The Pepperoni Bacon Duo features red sauce, smoked provolone cheese, roasted garlic, pepperoni, julienne Canadian bacon, hardwood smoked bacon, Romano cheese and Italian seasoning. The similar, yet feistier, Chipotle Bacon Duo Pizza comes with red sauce, smoked provolone cheese, julienne Canadian bacon, chipotle seasoned bacon, Asiago cheese, Romano cheese and Italian seasoning. If you can’t decide, just get both of them. We won’t judge…

Also, Donatos has partnered with fan favorite burger restaurant Red Robin! At certain locations you can now order hot and fresh Donatos pizzas alongside savory burgers and thick-cut steak fries. That’s a win!

The Salad House

Food Trends 2020

Image courtesy of the saladhouse.com

The Salad House breaks onto our list for the first time with a punny new item. Their Crispy Mutha Clucka Sandwich comes stacked with a fried chicken fillet, barbecue sauce, iceberg lettuce, fried onions, Cheddar cheese and ranch dressing. Additionally, they’re offering a Warm Teriyaki Bowl made with brown rice and sautéed spinach in a bowl with teriyaki glazed shrimp, red peppers, carrots, broccoli, onions and, celery. I’m in for the food pun alone!

Give Thanks

For delicious foods. And be sure you’re ready to tackle the holiday season with bold flavors and unique ideas. Diners are going to be looking for excitement on the menu, I hope you’re ready to deliver!

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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 21st, 2020

Winter Dining with COVID – How Restaurants are Planning & Adapting

Posted in Consumer Trends, Restaurants

Restaurants are Getting Creative with Winter Dining Solutions

Winter Dining Solutions

As challenges continue to mount, restaurants now must look at planning for survival during a COVID winter.

Outdoor dining and take-out options have certainly helped slow the bleed for restaurants nationally, but traffic is still low. While some areas have introduced 50% indoor dining capacity rules, there are still areas (New York City, for example) where indoor dining is not permitted. Therefore, outdoor dining and take-out services remain the main, reliable sources of regular sales.

But, with a looming winter that could bring ice storms and snowfalls to outpace previous years on record (see Farmers’ Almanac Extended Forecast), restaurants are looking for creative solutions to keep guests comfortable, even when outside.

How Restaurants are Adapting to a COVID Winter

Infrastructure

Outdoor Dining COVID

The most obvious, and most expensive, changes happening are around infrastructure. Many restaurants are investing in outdoor awnings, standalone coverings, and/or private pods like igloos for outdoor seating.

Along with this comes the addition of outdoor heaters, both gas and electric, that will be arranged for the overall area and at individual tables. Additionally, many restaurants are adding shops or markets to their now semi-vacant indoor space to promote the purchase of house-made items. This includes not only pre-packaged foods but even raw ingredients in some cases.

Some restaurants have gone as far as investing in indoor air ionization systems to ensure the air inside is safe and virus free. While this might seem like an attractive solution for many, the price tag can be quite prohibitive ($10k+).

Luckily, the National Restaurant Association is currently lobbying congress for tax credits for businesses adding infrastructure enhancements to battle COVID transmission. This, however, may not see any results before winter begins, so best to not put all your eggs in that basket.

Seating Solutions

Winter Dining Solutions

Along with the infrastructure enhancements, many businesses are looking at the physical seating space for opportunities to add warmth. One popular idea has been to replace outdoor metal chairs and tables with items made from warmer materials, like wood and cloth.

To compliment these additions, there have been investments in restaurant branded blankets and shawls that can be used during service, then either purchased by the customer or laundered before next use.

Finally, to combat wind in outdoor areas, the addition of plants is an option. Adding greenery and shrubbery to an outdoor dining space can not only make it more inviting and create privacy between diners, it can also block some level of wind and precipitation.

Menu Solutions

Winter Food Solutions COVID

Another way to make customers feel warmer when dining in cold weather is to simply provide warmer food. Many restaurants are making dramatic menu changes to include foods that provide warmth, like stews, soups, curries, and chilies.

The other benefit of outfitting a menu with these items is that they are quick to execute. This means the customers time in contact with the cold is reduced.  This is an intentional move to ensure the diner doesn’t have to wait in the cold for too long before their cozy meal is delivered.

Finally, some more ambitious restaurants are carving out other paths to bring in sales including grocery delivery and event-based to go kits, like anniversary picnic baskets and date-night meal kits.

Let’s Bundle Up & Eat!

As restaurants continue to adapt to COVID, there’s no doubt innovative dining solutions will continue to increase. One thing is for sure, it’s going to take a series of small solutions, rather than a single big one, to keep restaurants cooking this winter.

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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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August 17th, 2020

Takeout Dining: The Next Generation

Posted in Restaurants, Technology

Digital/Physical Hybrid Takeout Dining Restaurants Drive the Future

Takeout dining is set to become the new primary way we experience restaurants. Not only have brick and mortar establishments been upping their takeout game, they’ve also been quietly developing their own unique take out only brands.

Ghost kitchens are not a new topic to us here, however, what we’re going to show you today is how restaurants are using their space to host individually branded digital and physical restaurants in the same space. Let’s see who’s leading the way.

The New Leaders in Takeout Dining

The h.wood Group

Takeout Dining

The h.wood Group, the Los Angeles based proprietors of restaurants like Mason and 40 Love, are launching ghost kitchens out of their restaurants across the state. These digital restaurants include Ela Ela (Mediterranean inspired), Mama’s Guy (homemade Italian), Lilah’s (American classic diner fare), and Beautiful Foods (vegan concept). With a focus on quality and portability, these concepts are aimed to excel.

Brinker, International

Takeout Dining

Photo courtesy of FSRmagazine.com

Brinker, the folks who gave us restaurants like Chili’s and Maggiano’s Little Italy, are trying their hand at the ghost kitchen game with It’s Just Wings. Prepared out of the aforementioned restaurants’ kitchens (with over 1,000 locations), It’s Just Wings will be serving bone-in or boneless chicken wings along with curly fries and decadent fried Oreos. With 11 flavors of wing sauces plus dipping sauces, there’s a fit for every customer.

Smokey Bones

Carryout dining trends

Photo courtest of smokeybones.com

Florida’s Smokey Bones is launching their own ghost kitchen operation called The Wing Experience. TWE caters to those who crave wings and includes 14 different wing flavors on the menu including three flavors not currently available at Smokey Bones locations. But which three I wonder…?

The Madera Group

Takeout dining

Photo courtesy of ladowntownnews.com

The Madera Group is leveraging their kitchens at Tocaya Organica and Toca Madera to launch Burritos Locos. Described as an “indulgent burrito concept,” Burritos Locos offers a range of burritos from classic, to Nashville-fried chicken, to Beyond Meat. Customers have the option to add fries or beer to delivery orders as well. Now that’s a winning idea!

I Wonder Who’s Next?

Certainly, many more restaurants will follow suit in making their physical kitchen shared spaced for ghost kitchen concepts. It’s a great way to supplement the drop in in-person dining without having to add new ingredients and builds. Plus, it’s a great way to expand brand loyalty and innovate at small scale. Can’t wait to see what’s next.

Cheers!

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August 3rd, 2020

New Menu Items August 2020

Posted in Consumer Trends, New Foods and Flavors, Restaurants

August New Menu Items See Wings and Spice Rise

It’s the first week of the month and you know what that means: August New Menu Items! Please hold your applause. June and July saw a heavy dose of BBQ flavors, but as summer starts to dwindle, a shift in focus is apparent.

August is showing favorites in wing flavors, spicy options, and cheesy goodness. Sounds like customers are ready to throw that summer diet out the window and start get back to craveables. Grab a fork and let’s dig in…

August 2020 New Menu Items

Boston’s Pizza Restaurant & Sports Bar

New Menu Items August

Photo courtesy of Bostons.com.

The social favorite Boston’s is heating things up with some fun new menu options. They’ve just released Street Corn Nachos, which feature spicy queso smothered chips and a zesty street corn dip which is a fun new take on nachos. Additionally, you’ll now find Jamaican Jerk and Tandoori coated chicken wings on the menu.

Grimaldi’s Pizzeria

August 2020 New Menu Items

Photo courtesy of Grimaldis.com.

Grimaldi’s doesn’t plan to miss out on the BBQ trend with their new BBQ chicken pizza. It features barbecue sauce, barbecue chicken, bacon, and red onion, baked and then topped with cilantro.

Pasqually’s Pizza and Wings

Wing Trends

Photo courtesy of chuckecheese.com.

Pasqually’s, Chuck E. Cheese’s delivery brand, is stepping up their wing game with 2 great new flavors: Lemon Pepper and Chili Lime rubbed. For the adventurous diner, they will also toss the dry rub wings in buffalo sauce, it’s a mindblower. Along with the wings, they’ve released a Giant Cheesy Bread with mozzarella and Cheddar, served with savory marinara dipping sauce.

Taco Bell

New Menu Trends

Photo courtesy of Thrillist.com.

Our friends at Taco Bell are no strangers to innovation and this new item is sure to be a hit. Introducing the Grilled Cheese Burrito, featuring seasoned beef, three-cheese blend, crunchy red tortilla strips, chipotle sauce and reduced fat sour cream in a warm flour tortilla with a warm layer of cheese. Just, yum.

August is Looking Savory

With all these awesome new items, August is shaping up to be a pretty savory month. Hopefully, these trends help inspire you to try something new.

Cheers!

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