The Restaurant Group Blog

Food Trends 2017: What Stuck and What Didn’t

Food Trends 2017

Food Trends 2017

Every December, restaurant owners and goers alike wait to see what trends are predicted for the coming year. 2017 is almost over…so what stuck and what didn’t?

Winners

  • Breakfast All Day 

    – Breakfast has always been popular, but it wasn’t until McDonald’s finally succumbed to offering a breakfast menu all day that breakfast could no longer be ignored as a growing trend. From ice cream made of cereal milk and full bars, like Nighthawk Bar in Venice, CA, offering breakfast food late into the night, breakfast has never been hotter.

  • Queso

    – No longer just a Super Bowl staple, queso is breaking out of the football fan’s home kitchen and into quick service restaurants. Chipotle, desperate for a turn around in business, has added a queso & chips option to the menu to accompany its quac and salsa. Wendy’s and TGI Friday’s have both added queso-topped french fries to their menus, showing that this trend isn’t just for tortilla chips anymore.

  • Goth-Colored Food

    – While squid ink has long been used to make black pasta, black dyed foods have been showing up everywhere, from cupcakes to hamburger buns. The most popular twist on this dark 2017 trend is actually charcoal. Activated charcoal was marketed as a detox material and, as a result, it’s shown up in everything from lemonade to ice cream to lattes. Think of it as the response to this year’s other hot color trend: “unicorn”, or rainbow, food.

Losers

  • African Cuisine

    – African food was supposedly going to hit it big in 2017 but seems to have stalled out, with Filipino and other southeast Asian flavors becoming more popular in restaurant openings. Here’s hoping next year will see Africa’s rich history and myriad of flavors explode on the scene.

  • Fake Meat

    – In 2017, multiple companies brought us veggie burgers that “bleed” as if they were made of real beef and it was met with mixed reactions.  Recently, however, the FDA denied approving its ingredients and so this fake-beef burger is now, ironically, DOA.

  • Hopping on the Bandwagon – Authenticity is no longer a request in the restaurant world, it is a demand.  While demand for ethnic cuisines has never been higher, some of 2017’s biggest restaurant scandals have been in regard to restaurants and brands appropriating cultural flavors and techniques without a single chef or adviser assisting in the process. From non-Hispanic restaurateurs allegedly “stealing” tortilla techniques to France-based Yoplait attempting to enter the Greek yogurt market, the biggest lesson of 2017 may simply be to remain true to yourself.

 

For more information on the restaurant industry and consulting services contact TRG. We will also be releasing the upcoming Food Trends for 2018 in December.

Tips on Starting a New Restaurant

Starting a new restaurant

Starting a new restaurant

Starting any kind of business can be challenging and, in many cases, outright daunting. Restaurants are no exception. Here’s an idea of what the process will entail.

Concept 

The first step in starting a new restaurant is developing a concept, which lays the groundwork for all that follows. You then need to design a plan of action. We at TRG can help you through our five-stage process:

  • Alignment — You’ll present to us your vision, as well as ideas for things like menu design, location and budget.
  • Research — We’ll compile a strategic list based on potential competition in your target market area.
  • Analysis — We’ll do a comparative analysis, pitting your restaurant against the competition.
  • Plan of Action — During a brainstorm session, we’ll create a plan of action that will include all aspects of your operation, including kitchen and bar design, menu, brand value, ideal location, and other requirements.
  • Reporting — We’ll help your restaurant achieve a smooth implementation and launch.

Brand

Here at TRG, we realize that brand is everything. It’s through branding that you convey your restaurant’s personality, paving the way for brand loyalty. We can help develop your brand and thereby create a lasting impression on your customers. TRG can provide services in such areas as graphic design and brand development.

Kitchen and Bar Design

A great kitchen design is essential for every restaurant, as it can help guarantee repeat business. Our consultants have real world experience and the know-how to help you design your kitchen and bar so you can generate repeat business. We can help you pick the perfect restaurant kitchen and bar design that both helps generate profit and reflects your brand and values. Don’t worry — we’ll guide you every step of the way.

Business Plan

A business plan is necessary to obtain funding for your operation. At TRG, we can help you craft a 20-30 pages business plan that we think could attract potential investors. Each plan, which we would deliver in both printed and digital formats, would include:

  • A mission statement.
  • A Business and Marketing Overview.
  • One- and Five-Year Sales and Profit Projections.
  • A Rough Draft of the Menu and more.

We’ll also provide you with a restaurant strategy plan, which will include 400 issues restaurant owners must address when they’re opening their business.

Feasibility Study

The next step would be a feasibility study to ensure that your concept aligns with your goal of maximum profitability. The study would include data and recommendations for such crucial elements as: local restaurant marketing potential, traffic count, possible location problems and solutions, demographics and identification of the target area, staffing potential, advertising options, direct and indirect competition, photos of the target trade area, and issues involving ingress and egress.

We can help you transform your restaurant idea into reality. For more information, please contact us.

Is Your Menu Intimidating? TRG Menu Development Can Help

TRG Menu Development

Menu Development

 

Have you ever sat down at a restaurant and opened up the menu only to find that your choices seem endless? Having too many options is often overwhelming. Even the most experienced Chef cannot possibly be well versed in all areas. The odds that your kitchen staff can serve world-class Sushi and BBQ up some killer ribs are slim, and your guests know this. A menu with too many items sends the message to your patrons that your establishment doesn’t excel in any one item, rather, it offers an array of mediocre items.

People like options and you should certainly give them some. Try limiting your menu to just a handful of items that your restaurant can knock out of the park. Doing this has several advantages that might surprise you. It cuts inventory costs and allows reallocation of those funds towards higher grade ingredients, thus increasing the overall quality of your product. Offering less menu choices also creates less memorization for your wait staff; decreasing the odds of mistakes which results in happy customers. Perhaps the most positive change is that this will brand your restaurant. You will now be forever known for the amazing niche items prepared unique to your restaurant. This will attract the people whom are truly interested in what you have to offer, and likely result in a positive reputation amongst your community. Another positive is that you can bump of the price of your dishes with confidence, generating more profit. Remember this: less is more.

The menu is the first encounter a guest has with a restaurant. Contact TRG Restaurant Consulting, to learn more about our menu development services and how we can help to ensure that all the dishes on your menu not only stand out for their own merits, but also work together to form a cohesive whole.

 

Today’s Restaurant Consumer Demands

Is Your Menu Meeting Today’s Restaurant Consumer Demands of Online Convenience, Healthy Options, and Price?

Restaurant Consumer Demands

As you analyze your business and forecast of the trends for the remainder of 2017, there are several questions that you may be asking yourself. As restaurants have a greater and greater online presence with delivery services and online ordering as well as increased concern about healthy diets and where our food comes from, knowing what market factors to focus on and what trends in your customers’ behavior to focus on can be a tricky matter. One key question is, is your menu meeting today’s consumer demand?

Some of the most important factors according to forecasted 2017 trends include robotization, the growing focus on whole food ingredients, and a balance between convenience, novelty, and price.

Technology 

Customers are looking for convenience. Increasingly,  this is taking the form of app and online menus, being able to order ahead while still customizing orders, and even delivery services like GrubHub and DoorDash. Additionally, consumers frequently turn to review sites and restaurant websites to decide which restaurant to visit. It is critical to establish an online presence. At a minimum, you need a site that is mobile-friendly, easy to follow, and functional. However, you will also want to ensure that your business has online reviews, and, if it’s in your business model, is accessible to customers through those online delivery services.

Health

Whether it’s a fad,  a temporary trend, or a long-term move towards whole foods, fresh ingredients, and healthy options, most consumers are increasingly educating themselves about nutritious options, healthy alternatives, and organic or non-GMO ingredients. This can impact your food costs as the healthiest, freshest ingredients are often the most expensive. If you focus on a market that cares about these healthier options, knowing how to plan based on an operational analysis is critical to reducing food waste and additional expenses.

Price

Being concerned about the bill is not a new trend for 2017. But increased uncertainty has led to many middle- and lower-class customers thinking about cheaper alternatives and cooking at home when possible. Though upper-middle class and upper-class patrons are not expected to be as affected, be sure to keep in mind how price increases are noticeable and can drastically impact consumer behavior. Depending on your business model, cultivating alternatives and additional options can help keep the menu price the same while giving your customer the convenient options and customizations they crave in order to make sure your business continues to profit and grow.

The restaurant business is constantly changing and our consultants at TRG can help you react to the shifting preferences and consumer trends throughout the rest of 2017 and beyond. Please contact us at TRG Restaurant Consulting  if you’d like to learn more about how the restaurant business as a whole is evolving and what we can do to work together and make your restaurant thrive.

 

TRG SUPPORT AFTER HURRICANES HARVEY AND IRMA

Hurricane Irma devastated Florida leaving over 6 million people out of their homes, and now its time to start the clean up process.

Hurricane Irma Harvey Restaurant Support

In the wake of Hurricanes Irma and Harvey, we’re supporting restaurant and hospitality businesses affected by the storms.

TRG is standing by you and with you, ready to help in any way we can. Have equipment that was damaged and needs to be replaced? We can help with that. Need to rebuild, we can help with that, too. Whatever you need, we’re here to roll up our sleeves and help you move forward.

TRG is now offering Hurricane Relief Assistance discounts on all services and equipment to those in affected areas. Proceeds from now till November 1st, 2017 will go to the American Red Cross, Save the Children, Humane Society and/or local food banks to support rescue and recovery efforts.

LOOKING TO LEND A HAND?

If you’re looking for a way to help with the relief efforts, there are several charities always looking for volunteers and donations. See how you can make a difference today.

A great way for you to help is by visiting Red Cross Relief Fund for Hurricane Irma and Harvey for a quick easy cash donation, simply select ‘Harvey’ or ‘Irma’ when you donate.

Click below for more ways to help.

Of course with the closure of blood banks, there may be a shortage of blood. You can also contact the Red Cross to make an appointment to donate blood.

Opening a restaurant? Why you should have a feasibility study before you start a new restaurant

So you want to start a restaurant? How prepared are you? Did you know that there are several aspects of opening a restaurant that need consideration for success? Location, competition, management and staff, and market statistics are just a few of the areas that can make or break a new restaurant.

Opening a restaurant - you need a Feasibility Study

 

Location

Location, location, location! One of the most important aspects of any successful restaurant is location. While it is important that location of the restaurant be in a busy traffic area, it is just as important that the restaurant have ample parking for customers. A busy traffic area does not always guarantee success. It is also important to look at the style of restaurant you want to open and compare it with other restaurants in the area, and how the location will affect your customer flow.

Competition

What is going to set your restaurant apart from the competition? If you are offering a similar cuisine, as other restaurants in the area, why would patrons choose your restaurant over the others? Points to consider are the number of established restaurants in the area, price points of other the restaurants, and who is the target market.

Management and Staff

A good restaurant is only as good as the staff. What is your game plan on hiring the best staff to accommodate your customers? A successful management staff works well under pressure, is able to make split-second decisions, and have the overall success of the restaurant in mind.

Market Statistics

You have the perfect location, you have reviewed the competition, you have the perfect staff in mind, now you must look at the market statistics. Why have other restaurants succeeded or failed? It is imperative that you know the demographics in the area. If you plan on opening a restaurant that mainly focuses on family style dining, then you want to look at how many families live in the area; a community of young singles would likely not support your endeavor.

TRG can help your plan for success. Contact us today, and allow our experts to help with all of your planning needs.

Use Customer Tracking to Keep Up with Local Consumer Trends

Customer Tracking

You’ve opened your restaurant, eagerly awaiting the first trickle of customers to start streaming in. They start showing up, singly, in pairs, or in large groups, and they seem happy with the experience. But when they leave, you may never see them again. If you aren’t keeping track of your new customers, you could be missing a serious cog in the revenue-making machine.

Customer Tracking Helps You Understand Your Consumers

Gone are the days of consumer complacency. These days, your customers want the best you have to offer. But offering the best isn’t as simple as it sounds – what exactly is “the best”? How can you improve the restaurant experience? What kind of customers like to frequent your place, anyway? Keeping track of your customers, through loyalty programs, social media, or even simple feedback cards, provides an invaluable understanding of your consumers.

Customer Tracking Heads off Dissatisfaction

When you know what your customers want, you are less likely to receive complaints. And when you have good feedback mechanisms in place, such as a Facebook page and even an email address where they can directly reach you, you are more likely to appease unhappy customers before they leave negative feedback and for a locally owned restaurant, negative feedback can mean the virtual death of your online reputation.

Customer Tracking Reminds Hungry Consumers That You’re Open

Customer tracking is a two-way street; it allows your customers to interact with you, and it allow you to reach out to them. Simply asking for customers’ email addresses can allow you to periodically send them alerts when you have a new menu item, a special is going on, or hours of operation are changing. Send these emails out at just the right times and to just the right customers – think late Friday afternoon for families, and Monday at happy hour for college students and you will begin to see an increase in the amount of repeat business at your restaurant.

Without Customer Tracking, You Can Only Rely on Chance

Customer tracking gives you the boost your restaurant needs to thrive. Without it, you are an island floating in the ocean of chance, just waiting to see what the next wave will bring. Get personal with your customers, and they will have a reason to keep coming back to your place of business.

 

For assistance with your restaurant contact a TRG Restaurant Consultant.

Feasibility Studies – The Best Way to Maximize Restaurant Success

Restaurant Feasibility Study

Restaurant Feasibility Study

Starting any project or venture in the restaurant industry is a massive risk, and failure is common. Luckily, there is a way to pre-check the potential success of a new restaurant; it is called a feasibility study. As the name suggests, a feasibility study examines whether or not a project is feasible with the provided resources. Although there are many benefits to a feasibility study, the main ones are as follows:

Optimal Location

Feasibility studies examine multiple potential locations, as well as potential issues with said locations. Everything about these places is taken into account, from the demographics and foot traffic in the area to any natural or man-made barriers that could potentially affect business. For example, if one potential site is in a city center and another is on the outskirts of the same city, there will be different needs within the demographic. A feasibility study would take these demands into account and provide the best location for a specific restaurant.

Competition

When deciding whether or not to move forward with a restaurant project, considering any potential competition is crucial. A feasibility study will consider both direct competition and indirect competition. Direct competition is a company that produces a virtually identical service, while indirect competition is a company whose service could satisfy the same need. By examining both types of competition, a feasibility study can provide the most accurate picture of any potential competitors.

Staffing and Management Advice

Excellent staff can keep a restaurant running smoothly, and heighten the experience for customers. On the other hand, bad staff can quickly tank a profitable venture. A feasibility study can show the staffing potential of a project, as well as provide specific staffing and management advice for the restaurant. This helps avoid any staffing issues, as well as boosting the abilities of managers and staff.

A feasibility study will provide the best options for any new venture. If you think a feasibility study would help your project idea, feel free to contact us at TRG for more information.

Restaurant Consumer Trends 2017 Mid Year Review

Restaurant Consumer Trends 2017 Mid Year Review

Restaurant Consumer Trends 2017

Now that we’re halfway done with 2017, it’s time to take a look both backward and forward at trends dominating the restaurant industry. Here’s what we’ve noticed is both hot and not in 2017:

Comfort food revival is more important than ever. Consumers are highly interested in modern takes on classic fare. More people are getting back to the “roots” of traditional-style foods, but this doesn’t mean they want Mom’s boring old meatloaf! Farm-to-table is also playing heavily into the equation as today’s consumer is more conscious about their food sources than ever before.

The attention span of your customers is getting shorter than ever. All restaurants want to reach out to their consumers, but your time may be counted in milliseconds rather than actual seconds these days. Rather than relying on email marketing, which is likely to be sent to a spam folder, consider switching customer engagement to text-based communication.

Paying attention to calorie counts is big. More customers than ever are paying attention to calorie counts, and since May 2017 there have been rules requiring that restaurants disclose these counts. Customers are paying attention to these and many do make purchasing decisions based upon estimated caloric daily intake. So make sure that you tell the chefs to not go heavy on the oil!

Healthy kid’s menus. Along with healthier eating for Mom and Dad, healthier eating for Junior is in as well. You’re finding this evidenced in everything from apple slices instead of fries and oranges on the kids’ dessert menu. Just like parents are paying attention to their waistlines, they’re also keeping an eye on their kids’.

Keeping on top of restaurant consumer trends like these is vital to our industry. We like to stay on top of it all – and so should you!

Restaurant Renovation Pt 2: Creating Your Design Concept

restaurant design concept

In Part 1 of this two-part post, we talked about how to decide if your restaurant is ready for a face lift. If you’re still reading, congratulations! You’re ready to modernize your business. Don’t start picking out paint chips and fabric swatches just yet, however – the best renovation plans are only complete with a fully formed restaurant design concept from the very beginning.

Who is My Clientele?

So you’ve decided that your current design doesn’t work for the crowd you’re hoping to attract — but who, exactly, are you trying to attract? Families? Businessmen? College students? Tourists? Every design and menu decision that you make has to be centered around your target clientele, so make sure you clarify exactly who that is before you go any further.

What Do I Want to Accomplish?

Making more money and attracting more customers are rather vague as far as goals go. Instead, consider things like, do you want to completely re-do the vibe of your space, or do you only have the budget to freshen it up a bit? Do you need to strengthen your brand image, or re-create it entirely? Clearly define your goals now, and your plans will roll much more smoothly later on in the process.

What Do My Current Customers Like?

In undergoing a renovation, you run the risk of losing customers who don’t like what you’ve done with the place. It may be a good idea to run an opinion poll for a few weeks at least before you start getting into the nitty-gritty of your renovation. You may be able to incorporate things that your current clients like, and get some ideas of things that new customers may want to see as well.

Who Am I Working With?

Unless you are one of the rare restaurant owners who can also contract a renovation project, you will be working with others to get your restaurant in shape. The right design team can make all the difference to the end result. Our dedicated designers at TRG Restaurant Consulting will listen to your goals and desires to help you design a space that meets your needs, and that your customers will love.

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