The Restaurant Group Blog

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 Trends 2017

2017 Restaurant Trends

The culinary scene in 2016 was all about matcha, food trucks, and farm-to-table. As the year comes to a close, it’s time to look forward to what your clientele will be asking for in 2017 restaurant trends.

 

2017 Restaurant Trends

Smarter Restaurants

From guest-facing digital ordering systems to takeout platforms catering to busy individuals, many modern restaurants are turning to technology to streamline the guest’s experience. While quick-serve concepts are typically the first to adopt new technology, high-end restaurants are also incorporating technical features to their dining rooms such as tablets and smart watches to keep the restaurant staff informed and operating in real time.

In 2017 expect more than just sandwich shops to utilize digitized custom ordering methods. The trend has already begun to expand to sushi restaurants and other popular lunch and after work venues.

 

2017 Restaurant Trends

Fresher, greener, cleaner ingredients

So many consumers today are concerned with clean eating, the sourcing of ingredients, and impact of their food choices. When selecting a lunch spot or where to place a dinner reservation, guests are more apt to choose an establishment with a clear commitment to the environment or new clean eating trends.

The “better burger” movement is one of the more prominent examples of clean eating coming to the forefront of American dining. From BurgerFi to Elevation Burger, these businesses are placing the importance of great ingredients and thoughtful preparation far ahead of heavy branding and low price points.

For those who are turning away from meat consumption, there are countless new concepts focusing on vegan and vegetarian cuisine. Even fresh juice bars are beginning to replace truck stop style soda fountains in high income areas.

The new year will likely usher in more concepts focusing on the fresher the better with their ingredients and menu planning.

 

2017 Restaurant Trends

Embodying that Homemade Feeling

Whether high end or fast-casual, so many new restaurants are embracing nostalgic and inviting atmospheres. Fine dining restaurants have always been exclusive, but many dining rooms are beginning to feel like an extension of someone’s living room rather than a sea of identical two tops covered in white tablecloths.

Staplehouse, a restaurant in Atlanta has gone as far as creating a unique entrance through a residential garage door in order to make guests feel as though they’re coming over to a friend’s house.

This intimate back to basics of hospitality is not limited to interior design, many kitchens are returning to basic cooking techniques and heirloom recipes to create a transportive and comforting dining experience.

 

2017 Restaurant Trends

Authentic, not brand-centric

It seems gone are the days of reigning restaurant chains complete with souvenir barware and menus designed to follow some sort of theme. Many of the newest and most successful restaurants pride themselves on their simple straight-forward concepts and the transparency of their menus. New restaurateurs and chefs are embracing the idea of doing one thing and doing it better than anyone else.

Ethnic cuisine has been on the rise especially in the last few years as the industry embraces the different backgrounds that make up today’s typical consumer. Coming with this trend to explore ethnic cuisines are millennials captivated by social media and the search for authentic ethnic cooking. With a largely global economy and a well traveled customer base, restaurants offering globally inspired foods need to claim their authenticity and larger established brands touting culturally inspired fare will need to face the music and convince restaurant goers that their offerings are as good if not better than the authentic cooking of a mom and pop startup.

Other ways restaurants are circumnavigating the modern consumers’ distrust of large brand names: combining forces with popular retailers, hotels, and even automotive brands. In 2017 expect to see more established food or restaurant brands partnering with high end retailers to present innovative mixed use retail and foodservice concepts.

 

2017 Restaurant Trends

Eastern Flavor Invasion

The Asian tigers have influenced the consumer economy in more than just apparel, electronics, and cars. These strong economic players and their accompanying dining preferences are now beginning to impact the American restaurant industry. Their numbers are growing each day from Asian inspired fast-casual concepts to elevating Chinese, Thai, Indian, and Japanese cuisine to a starring role in high end dining rooms breaking from their former home in your takeout menu drawer.

In 2017 prepare to see more Asian as well as African flavors being incorporated into menus, grab and go snacks, and even cocktail programs.

Today’s Restaurant Industry

Today’s Restaurant Industry

Ingredient, design, and culinary trends are not new to the restaurant industry, but with today’s rapidly evolving tastes and diners who are quick to share their experiences, chefs and restaurant owners need to be steadily aware of new trends coming into play.

Here are the current movements shaking up today’s restaurant industry:

 

The Right Angle

Today’s Restaurant Industry

Heads up, way up. When it comes to restaurant decor in 2016, so many designers are taking advantage of vertical space and adding interest with the use of hard 45 degree and 90 degree angles. These lines combined with the softness of wood paneling often made from reclaimed materials not only make a space inviting, but also speaks to a restaurant’s eco-friendly commitment.

Tall spaces are not the only ones getting the natural treatment, many interior designers are also bringing in tropical plants and wallpaper with natural textures or patterns to create a warm atmosphere.

 

Thoughtful Menu Planning & Ingredient Sourcing

Today’s Restaurant Industry

Today we are serving some the best informed diners we have ever served in the restaurant industry. That being said, menu planners cannot simply tout a locally sourced menu and not expect to be held to certain standards of sustainability and support of their local food industry. Likely the hottest topic within the realm of ingredient sourcing is the use of locally raised meat, dairy, seafood, and produce. Some of the most successful restaurants embracing this trend have built extremely strong relationships with local growers, ranchers, and fisherman and are very transparent about the origin of every single item on their menu.

Other ways restaurants are adding interest to their menus without sacrificing local ingredients: housemade ice cream, root-to-stem cooking, artisan butchery, house-made pickles, back-to-basics cooking, and curing meats in-house.

 

The Technology of Convenience

Today’s Restaurant Industry

It may be driven by millennials, but food convenience paired with delivery services such as Grub Hub, Ubereats, and Postmates represents one of the fastest growing areas in the foodservice industry. Many young professionals and working parents are the major supporters of these services because they bring well prepared, often nutritious, and fast meals to their doorstep with just a few quick swipes on their smartphone. Settling for rock hard pizza that takes an hour to arrive or waiting for a table with a gaggle of hungry toddlers just isn’t relevant anymore.

Other players in the food convenience arena include food trucks, dinner-in-a-box subscription services, and affordable chef-driven fast-casual restaurant concepts.

 

Working with Dietary Restrictions

Today’s Restaurant Industry

So many chefs and servers dread the question “What do you have that’s gluten-free?”

While it is true that the public’s concern for dietary restrictions has increased over the years, what is starting to change are restaurants’ approach to gluten free, paleo, vegan, and vegetarian dining. So many establishments are confronting the question head on and designing menus and even entire restaurant concepts that address and embrace these different eating patterns.

Some of the most popular trends from 2016 are: offering selections of raw or uncooked vegetable dishes, replacing pasta and white rice for ancient grains, healthy alternatives for kid’s meals, vegetable-centric menus, and milk substitutes made from cashews, hazelnuts, and oats.

 

Seasoned Seasoning

Today’s Restaurant Industry

Restaurants are big on flavor. With all the dietary restrictions circling around and a large demand for unique flavors, so many chefs are turning to spices for more than just heat. Spices, especially ethnically inspired or craft blended, are an ideal way to incorporate new and bold flavors into a dish without the use of animal fat, or excess salt and sugar. One of the more unique trends of 2016 are restaurants developing their own blend of spices to use in various dishes.

While ethnically derived spice blends are heating up in the kitchens, more and more customers are also asking for condiments that in the past have only been found at grocery stores in neighborhoods like K-town or Little Havana. From hot sauces to savory vinegars, expect to see a more eclectic assortment of condiments available at your table.

 

True Ethnic Cuisine

Today’s Restaurant Industry

Along with the never ending search for new flavors comes the quest for your area’s most authentic (insert country’s name here) cuisine. Today’s diners are very interested in trying authentic cuisines without the need for a passport. This trend can be seen with the fleets of food trucks hitting city streets and also in some of the nicest dining rooms around the country.

Vietnamese cuisine, new-Jewish cuisine, homemade Japanese rice balls, and new interest in African cuisine and ingredients have been some of this year’s most apparent trends in ethnic cooking.

 

Waste Not

Today’s Restaurant Industry

Lastly, it’s hard to talk about food whether it’s in the foodservice industry or home consumption without touching upon the topic of food waste. Not only has it been a big conversation leader in 2016, it has also turned into a big winner for business plans in the restaurant industry. Many restaurants cite their commitment to food waste reduction on their menus and equally as many are partaking in the food donation services that are springing up across the United States.

Other popular steps toward reducing food waste include: seasonal farm-to-table menus, smaller portion sizes at smaller price points, and a commitment to nose-to-tail and root-to-stem cooking.

 

2016 Beverage Trend Review

2016 beverage trends

We’re crazy about all things restaurants here at TRG. Forecasting trends, real time analysis, and review and reporting are our bread and butter as restaurant consultants. With the end of 2016 fast approaching, it’s time to take a look at some of the biggest 2016 beverage trends. No surprise, locally sourced ingredients tops the list (as we’re sure they will continue to), while thoughtfully composed mocktails have been a hit, and renewed fanaticism in Tiki has been a win on both sides of the bar. Read on to check out our full list of 2016 Beverage trends.

 

2016 beverage trends artisanal cocktails

Local and Artisanal Ingredients

The beverage world of 2016 has seen a continued move away from complicated ingredients, preparations, and presentations. Master mixologists with their overdone drinks are out, while fresh, simple, and local ingredients are in. Aside from local breweries and wineries, the likes of small batch tonic, ginger beer, and liqueurs have now made it to the big stage, and we couldn’t be happier about it.

 

2016 beverage trends cocktails

Mocktails

Long gone are the days of virgin daiquiris and margaritas as the only non-alcoholic cocktails options. Mocktails today are being crafted with equal attention to detail and composition as their boozy counterparts, utilizing savory elements such as herbs, as well as more premium ingredients like non-alcoholic falernum.

 

2016 beverage trends tiki cocktails

Tiki

Perhaps in attempt to pay homage to the cocktail kings and queens who paved the way,  bartenders today have gone tiki-crazy. A quick glance at the high end cocktail bars of San Francisco, Chicago, New York, and Boston show rifts on tiki-classics from the likes of Don the Beachcomber and Trader Vic. With approachable flavors and ingredients, historical relevance, and eye catching presentations, Tiki drinks are a beverage trend here to stay.

 

2016 beverage trends OAC rum

Rum

Forget the spiced Captain Morgan handle you used to swig in college and make room for the new era of rums. A neutral spirit capable of many forms and expressions, today’s rums are on a broad spectrum with everything from Jamaican rum to Demerara rum and  AOC-protected rhum agricole. Complex and versatile, the past year has seen this once-forgotten spirit back in action.

 

2016 beverage trends draft cocktail

Draft Cocktails

Imagine being able to turn out a whole sleuth of good drinks – fast. Welcome to the world of Draft Cocktails. Bartenders prep and batch drinks prior to service so that a pull on the draft handle is all you need for a perfected composted cocktail. The advantages here are many, speed and efficiency topping the list, but be sure to keep an eye on things like proper scaling, dilution, and clean tap lines.

 

2016 beverage trends lower abv drinks

Lower ABV Drinks

Two martini lunches a la Don Draper are a thing of the past. Guests now are happy to enjoy sake, sherry, vermouth, and wine based cocktails and still be able to drive home. These are great bridges for non-cocktail drinkers, and a valuable tool for restaurants without a full alcohol license.

Restaurant Design: Building the Efficient Commercial Kitchen

Restaurant Design: Building the Efficient Commercial Kitchen

 

 Restaurant Design Kitchen

Your restaurant design is a reflection of your brand. From the front of house design to the back of house, your entire design plan needs to reflect your brand’s personality, market position and mission.

Efficient Restaurant Design

Whether you have a large chain or one store, it’s necessary to take every detail into account; from the store front sign to the table settings. The front of house design should reflect the style of your brand in its décor, also a large consideration should be paid to the construction of the service areas, to include the layout organization and efficiencies. If something looks beautiful but doesn’t function well, your customers will be the first to notice.

The front of house design is an important part of your image, but the back of house is the heart of your operation. Poor commercial kitchen design cannot only decrease your productivity, but it will impact your bottom line in many ways from food waste to loss of business.

Proper Planning

Before you can design your commercial kitchen, you need a solid plan. For example, consider your inventory needs, health codes, the type of food will you be serving and how you will be serving it. Retaining a restaurant consultant is the best way to plan. A consultant can help you establish your menu and make the best use of your kitchen space to increase restaurant efficiency.

There are several areas of a commercial kitchen that need to be established and there are a few popular configurations for different styles of service. Each layout factors in the workflow which includes receiving, storage, food preparation, meal cooking, cleaning and washing, waste disposal and most importantly service. Whichever design you chose, remember to keep it flexible in case your menu options change, use commercial grade appliances and building materials. It is also critical that you create specific work zones that will provide your employees with maximum efficiency to complete their duties.

Popular Configurations

Depending upon what category your restaurant falls into, there are three main layouts you can use to increase food production time and employee communication. These are simple guidelines that are flexible and easily modified to fit your specific needs.

Assembly-line

Many fast food or fast-casual restaurants use an assembly line set up in their kitchens. if you are making many of the same types of food or using the same ingredients in different ways, the assembly line configuration usually works best. This format arranges the kitchen in order of materials used. There is usually a preparation area connected to a cooking area that hands off to a service area. In this setup, the cleaning and storage areas are behind the line. This design offers speed and the ability to process orders quickly without employees running between stations.

 Food Service Design

The Island

The island configuration is designed with one main block in the middle of the kitchen area where food is prepped and cooked. Most often you will find the cooking spaces with appliances and equipment in this area. On the outer walls surrounding the kitchen, you will find cleaning storage, food prep and service areas with a circular flow. The Island offers a good flow for workers to move around and better communication among employees.

Food Service Design

The Zone

This layout is organized by blocks, placing major equipment around the walls. Like the other two models, this design flows in an ordered manner and allows for easy communication among employees preparing the food. It also provides more space in the center of the work area for employees to easily move to-and-from different stations.

Food Service Design

Always keep in mind that each of these designs can be modified easily depending on the equipment you use as well as the space and shape of your kitchen.

Other Considerations

Depending on where you are constructing your kitchen, you will find different local, state and county regulations. The planning and zoning restrictions vary from city to city, so you may not be aware of the required fire, electrical and plumbing codes. Additionally, you will need to apply for permits and licenses so it is important to know what you’re doing before you begin your design. Restaurant consultants are specialists in this field of design, so using one to help guide you through the entire commercial kitchen design and build process, will often save you time, money and headaches, not to mention, help you increase your restaurant’s efficiency and bottom line profits.

Contact TRG Restaurant Consulting for a free commercial kitchen design consultation.

Menu Development – Increase Your Restaurant Revenue

Increase Your Restaurant Revenue During Off-peak Hours  Menu Development

Snacking is not just for in-between meals – Menu development for the next generation

 

Over the past decade, eating habits are shifting in response to a shift in the American culture and lifestyle. In 2014, Bloomberg did a study that indicated people are spending almost as much money dining out than eating at home. The possibilities for increasing profits may lie in the way people are eating today. The demand for quick, healthy snacks are on the rise among people who like to eat a few small meals a day.

 

Changing Menu Preferences

The Technomic 2016 Snacking Occasions Consumer Trend Report highlights the importance of snacking and reveals some opportunities for restaurants to increase market share in this space by capitalizing on the trends. The report indicates that 60 percent of consumers snack at least twice a day and 37 percent would like more restaurants to offer mini-sandwiches that they can eat as a snack or light meal. These trends had double-digit increases and suggest that restaurants may need to revise their menu development.

Some of the key takeaways of the report are diners want healthy snacks in place of, or to go with full course meals. The trend has rapidly changed as 40 percent of consumers are eating healthier foods between meals, more than they did just two years ago. According to the 37 percent of respondents, if bundled mix-and-match snacks were available, they would order them. These diners are not looking for a typical meal. Proper menu development is critical in this aspect because studies show that 49 percent prefer snacks that are different from breakfast, lunch and dinner fare. 

 

A Transforming Culture And Demographic

Having to conform to a hectic lifestyle, dual income parents and single parents are eating outside of the home at least once a week. Additionally, many parents want to provide healthy snacks for their children in between meals. However, the real “snackies” are the millennials. There are three defining characteristics about this group. They are budget conscious, they want healthy food and eat a few small meals a day and they prefer to eat at off-peak times. As their purchasing power increases, restaurants will have to rethink their menu development in order to capture their business.

In the Technomic 2016 Snacking Occasions Consumer Trend Report, some of the responses by millennials were not that surprising. If available, 44 percent of millennials would order snack delivery from restaurants. Additionally, 54 percent of this group prefer unique flavors and pairings in their healthy snacks.

 

Where The Opportunities Lie

The report also generated some interesting information that has the potential to drive more revenue and increase market share in the snack category. A restaurant consultant can help you with your menu development to capture these missed opportunities.

While 56 percent of snack purchases are planned, 44 percent of people attribute their snacking to an impulse buy. Restaurant consultants can help catch that impulsive buyer with better placement and creative menu design. Leveraging the restaurant consultant’s knowledge can also help restaurateurs take their share of the snack market. With statistics that demonstrate consumer snack buying behavior favoring 77 percent of snack purchases at retail locations and only 23 percent bought snacks at restaurants there is room for growth. Work with a restaurant consultant to develop an atmosphere that grabs some of the 72 percent of people eating their snacks at home.

Learn more about how menu development can help transform your snack business on our TRG consulting service pages.

Resources:

2016 Snacking Occasions Consumer Trend Report [Technomic]

Americans spending on dining out just overtook grocery sales

How Restaurants Can Stay Relevant

Restaurant Consultants

Food service is unarguably one of the most challenging industries for a business owner. With heavy competition and high failure rates, it’s important for your business to stay relevant if you want to succeed; however, due to the changing nature of the industry, staying relevant today is not the same as it was when you opened your restaurant doors. Menu design, marketing, and decor seem to change from year to year with new trends and technology. To help you stay on top of your market, we’ve compiled a list of ways you can keep your restaurant growing this year.

 

Give Them What They Want

One challenge restaurants face today is matching their operation to what their guests want. This can be a problem of space, funding, or permits. For example, if customers are looking for an establishment with healthy and indulgent options, but you’ve always touted your healthy and sustainable menu design, that’s a challenge you have to evaluate. Serving up an appetizer that seems indulgent but is still healthy and sustainable is a great way to face your challenge without changing your restaurant’s vision.

 

Listen to Their Feedback

In many ways, new technology is completely changing the way your business runs. Inventory tracking, billing, and ordering become easier with programs designed to take the counting and tracking out of your hands. With the expansion of social media, technology is also making it much easier for you to really know what your customers think of your business. Although some restaurant owners may be dismayed by public reviews on Yelp and Facebook, this is actually a great opportunity to make the changes you need to stay relevant and engage with your diners even when they aren’t inside your restaurant. Take every piece of feedback you get to heart and make the changes they want to see. Respond to all of your reviews, good and bad, to show your diners you appreciate their business and can’t wait to see them again.

 

Know Your Diners

There are plenty of new and exciting things happening in the restaurant industry every year. Many owners jump on these new trends as soon as they can, but it is important to take a second to think about your diners. For example, bacon infusions were extremely popular during 2015. Many establishments very easily added more bacon to their menu, fulfilling a need for their clients. However, if your restaurant is close to a kosher community and you add bacon to all of your dishes, you’ve alienated many of your best customers. Also, even though extremely sustainable meats and vegetables are extremely popular this year, if your diners come to you for great food at a reasonable price, you may have to raise your prices too much for your loyal customers. It’s important to think about your demographic before you change your menu design around new trends.

 

Staying on top of new food industry trends is important for all restaurants, no matter how established they are. If you want to stay relevant by giving your customers what they want and listening to their feedback, a restaurant consulting service is a great way to ensure you implement changes easily and without alienating your favorite customers. Contact TRG Restaurant Consultants for a free consultation.

Managing the Restaurant Design Lifecycle

Restaurants and all businesses in general have very similar lifecycles comprising five stages beginning with the startup phase, where restaurant design is crucial, and ending with either a rebirth or reinventing of the business model as it begins to decline and deteriorate; or dissolution as a going concern due to irrelevance with current market trends. More specifically, these lifecycle stages are startup, growth, maturity, decline, and rebirth/cessation.

Restaurant Design
Source: PC Scholars

The Rise of Fast Casual

Fast Casual - Restaurant Consulting

Restaurant Industry Trends – Fast Casual

It seemed as though the dominance of the fast food market segment would be forever enduring. This segment still dominates, but in terms of growth rate, the fast casual segment has been gradually eroding the fast-food market share, with McDonald’s, the leader of the fast food market chains, controlling about 20% of that market, with an average growth rate of around 2%. Alternatively, Chipotle Mexican Grill, the leader and pioneer of fast casual, has grown at a consistent 20% rate for the last seven years[1].

Restaurants: Preparing for Summer

Restaurant Consultants

Hilton Cabana Miami Beach

You can see it coming, and you can feel its gradual approach. Days get longer and the somatic sensations of warmer days begin to influence our choice for a lighter wardrobe to accommodate the activities of the warmest period of the year affectionately called the summer season – compliments of the yearly summer solstice.

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