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.

 

Food Trends 2017: A Health-Conscious Perspective

Food Trends

Many of the food trends anticipated in the near future will cater to individuals who have adopted a health-conscious lifestyle, and will span the gamut from good versus bad fats to seaweed and fermented foods.

 

Food Trends

Good Versus Bad Fats

Whereas low-carb, Mediterranean and paleo diets became popular in 2016, many experts this year expect to see a greater emphasis on foods high in polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, such as avocado, fish and nuts.

 

Food Trends

Plant Proteins

Plant foods, such as high-fat avocados, will soon constitute another major food trend. They have increasingly grown in popularity, as dietitians have long touted the heart-healthy benefits of a vegetarian diet.

 

Food Trends

Seaweed

A key ingredient in Asian food for the past thousand years, seaweed is low in fat and calories, and loaded in nutrients like Vitamins A, B and C, iron, fiber, zinc and magnesium. While seaweed chips have seen a recent surge in popularity, culinary experts expect the seaweed plant to receive wider acclaim in the coming months.

 

Food Trends

Fermented Foods

Holistic nutritionist Kelly Boaz calls fermented foods one of the top food trends of 2017. Fermented foods have been exposed to certain bacteria and yeasts. This process of fermentation, which can alter the food’s taste, can make the food more conducive to digestion. Boaz says it may among other things help improve mental health, reduce the risk of certain cancers, and help diminish the symptoms of lactose intolerance.

 

Food Trends

Manufacturers Now Make Meatless Burgers Taste Like the Real Thing

That’s right. In fact, soy and veggie burgers have now become indistinguishable from hamburgers in both taste and texture. The only real difference, aside from their substance, is their nutritional value.

 

Food Trends

Sorghum

In addition, sorghum will likely gain traction in the health food market soon. Rich in fiber and protein, sorghum is present in cereals and chips, and will appear later this year in such foods as protein bars and crackers.

For more information on including health-conscious food in your menu, please contact us.

Beverage Trends 2017: Coffee

Beverage Trends – Coffee

Beverage Trends Coffee

Are You Offering Fresh Coffee?

Is your drink menu full of only standard options and written in at the bottom of your menu corner? If so, you may want to consider adding in coffee, or a few coffee options, to join the growing market of restaurants that feature coffee as an all-day option and has a growing customer base of people stopping in to get a drink and a snack or to do some work at your tables.

A sort of Starbucks phenomenon is taking place in a wide variety of restaurants. Consumers aren’t always looking for a full sit-down meal or even a meal through the drive-thru window. A lot of the time, especially if your restaurant offers free Wi-Fi or Wi-Fi with purchase, what customers really want as a place to sit down with or swing by for a hot coffee, a cold coffee, or any sort of the numerous customizable drinks that have become increasingly popular. While coffee is still predominantly associated with breakfast and business offices, it is increasingly a universal drink  that can draw in a crowd — especially if you offer novelty, convenience, or both. Customers are looking for hot coffee for their commute, a cold drink for the afternoon, or sometimes even a late-night pick-me-up for when office hours or studying stretch out. Being the local restaurant or the reliable franchise that offers what your customers are looking for consistently can go a long way to not only retaining customer loyalty but bringing in customers looking for a snack or a quick meal, too.

It used to be that drinks accompany a meal. But with new trends, new consumer behavior, and increasing numbers of people working on the go, it’s turning out that everything else may be accompanying the drink. If you are looking to expand or want to further capitalize on this market of busy coffee drinkers, our consultants at TRG can help you devise new business strategies, start an operational analysis, and see where your business can grow now and in the future. Please contact us at TRG Restaurant Consulting if you have any questions or want to talk to a consultant.

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

Food Waste: Problem to profit through menu design

Menu Design

There are plenty of studies that will tell you that anywhere between 30 and 40 percent of the overall food supply in the U.S. ends up in landfills. According to a 2014 study, restaurant sector respondents reported approximately 84 percent of food waste was literally thrown away.

The impact on profit

The report estimates that almost 16 percent of all food waste is generated by the restaurant industry. On average, survey respondents generated 33 pounds of food waste per thousand dollars of company revenue. When you put that into dollars and cents, it adds up to a great deal of lost profit.

The restaurant industry is highly competitive and remaining profitable is the key to existence in this overcrowded marketplace. Food waste can be one of the largest hits to your bottom-line so menu design is an important consideration in determining how much food waste your business will generate.

Investigating the sources of waste

If your business is losing a considerable amount of revenue due to food waste, a restaurant consultant can offer insight into your main problem areas and help you close the gap on profit and loss. They can assist you in improving efficiency and reducing waste in areas such as purchasing, product handling, preparation and storage. Additionally, your production and services areas should be factored in as well.

Restaurant consultants recommend breaking up food waste into two categories, you will be able to see the full picture of where your food waste lies. First, consider the food you waste before it is served to the customer and secondly, consider the food that is left after consumption.

Before consumption waste

If you are wasting food before it gets to the customer, there are several matters you need to investigate. The first one is, are you purchasing too much? You are not saving money buying in bulk if you throw away products that have expired or gone bad. Begin by monitoring the items you are throwing away. Review your invoices and orders and define what you are buying too much of and analyze the vendors you are using.

Another possibility could be the way you are storing your food. Monitor your storage areas by going through your inventory and figuring out the best way for all food to stay fresh and unspoiled. Moreover, examine your food preparation methods and set up. If your prep station is not set up effectively you may be throwing food out due to prep errors.

After consumption waste

Auditing your post-consumption waste can tell you a great deal as well. For example, are people eating the whole portion? If not, reducing the plating size is an obvious choice. Also, things to take into consideration is food presentation including the wasted cardboard, styrofoam and plastic that is being used. This waste also needs to be managed to improve your profitability.

Menu design

After you have assessed your waste, you should reassess your menu design. A restaurant consultant can guide you through the process based on your waste assessment. If you need to either recreate your menu or business model from scratch or make tweaks to it, having a professional direct the process can end up increasing your profitability.

Whether you are a fast casual or full-service restaurant, changing up your menu is the key opportunity to minimize food waste. Deciding what you are serving, storing, preparing and packaging will impact your bottom line and your food waste carbon footprint.

The key to ending food waste is to reduce, reuse and recycle! Learn more about how menu design can help your restaurant reduce food waste on our TRG consulting service pages.

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.

The Most Significant Restaurant Menu Design Trends for 2015

Regardless of the vast differences among the various industries in the U.S., be it restaurant design, technology innovation, new car models, or the latest fashion trends, the one thing that appears to be invariably constant year after year is change itself, especially when it comes to consumer choice and preference. But when it comes to restaurant industry trends, consumers are progressively uniting restaurants and dining to their personal beliefs and inclinations about where or how they choose to dine. This has led to the most reasonable corollary action currently facing restaurant management and executive chefs when it comes to restaurant menu design and restaurant consulting.

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