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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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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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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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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