Here at ShortOrder, we like to keep an eye on what’s ahead in the food industry. From new restaurant equipment technology to fast casual trends to the best ways to promote your restaurant, we’re interested in keeping you informed and supplying you with the best restaurant equipment for success.
This week we’re looking at the top trends on the horizon for the upcoming year as brought to you by two major players in informing the food industry. Technomic, a leading food industry consulting and research firm, has put out a list of the top developments expected in 2014 based on data gathered from site visits across the U.S., interviews and surveys of operators, chefs, and consumers, qualitative data from its Digital Resource Library, and quantitative data from its MenuMonitor database. The National Restaurant Association (NRA), a leading business association for the restaurant industry, has also created a list of predictions for 2014. This one was culled from a survey of more than 1,200 members of the American Culinary Federation. The results of these two lists are mixed, with some overlapping trends and some disparities.
As the Thanksgiving holiday fast approaches and the cold fronts roll in, many consumers will be bundling up and heading out of their homes to do their winter shopping. With special sales events like Black Friday coming up, everyone will be out and about checking holiday gifts off their lists. As time runs low, consumers will be turning to restaurants like yours to keep them energized as they frantically scramble to get gift shopping done in time. This means that as a restaurant, you had better be prepared! Your customers will have been battling lines and catty cashiers all day, and will expect their meal to be a relaxing break away from the mall madness. Here are some handy tips from ShortOrder to prepare your restaurant for a heavy holiday load while maintaining winter cheer.
At ShortOrder we’re pretty proud of our high-tech commercial restaurant equipment. Appliances and ice machines like the Manitowoc NEO Undercounter Ice Maker are designed to make life in the kitchen easier and more efficient thanks to technology that caters specifically to a busy work environment that requires high quality service. Manufacturers of ice machines like Manitowoc and Scotsman are consistently improving ice machines’ technology for better ice production more efficient operation. These ice machines’ features include advance notice of service needs, intuitive settings and design, and lowered energy consumption for a better use of your resources, plus environmentally-friendly ice machines.
So in addition to smart ice machines, what’s next for the world of commercial restaurant technology?
It all started with the Cronut.
Well, perhaps not, but it certainly exploded after the Cronut. Pastry-hawkers the world over have been heating up their fryers to participate in a deep-fried, sugar-glazed fad: the designer doughnut trend.
The Cronut is a cross between a croissant and a doughnut, and it is just as delicious as it sounds. Dominique Ansel Bakery in New York launched the Cronut on May 10, 2013, and it has since exploded into viral fame and become a much-imitated favorite. However, the Cronut was not the first to use fryers to put a high-end spin on America’s favorite deep-fried breakfast food. Places like Voodoo Doughnut in Portland, Oregon have been making unusual doughnuts since the early 2000s, and Psycho Donuts in Campbell, California has been in operation since 2009. Today, doughnut purveyors of all kinds are producing gourmet glazed goodness from their fryers. Designer doughnuts are showing up in all segments of the restaurant industry, from fine dining to fast food. In fact, according to Datassential’s MenusTrends data, doughnuts are now on 4% of all restaurant menus, a 27% increase since 2008.
Dunkin’ Donuts is just one of the many establishments capitalizating on the designer doughnut fad. Dunkin’, which seasonally offers pumpkin-flavored doughnuts, is adding a new one to its fryers this fall: a pumpkin pie doughnut filled with buttercream, topped with white icing and graham cracker topping. Likewise, Gourdough’s, a food truck in Austin, Texas that opened in late 2009 that serves up artisan dessert doughnuts from its fryers, expanded its options earlier this year by opening a brick-and-mortar restaurant with a menu full of savory doughnut dishes like chicken and doughnut hole dumplings, donut burgers, and salads that come served with a “piping hot garlic doughnut”. And Earth + Ocean Food and Drink in Mt. Prospect, Illinois, which opened in February of this year, features Portuguese doughnuts (“malsadas”).
What do you think of the designer doughnut trend? Have you used your restaurant’s fryers or commercial restaurant equipment to create artisan spins on old fast food favorites? Connect with ShortOrder on Twitter and Facebook and tell us! You can also follow us to keep with more restaurant industry trends and tips.
The fast casual restaurant is on the rise, cooking up a frenzied variety of foods on eateries’ commercial restaurant equipment to great financial success. According to the NPD Group, the number of fast casual chain restaurant units increased by 7% from last year’s spring census, and visits to those units increased by 9% during the same time frame, even as traffic in the rest of the restaurant industry was flat.
“Fast casual” is defined as somewhere between a fast food restaurant and casual dining restaurant. The idea is that fast casual restaurants offer higher-quality food than a fast food establishment, without the full table service that comes with a casual dining restaurant. Included in the fast casual category are restaurants like Chipotle Mexican Grill, Panera Bread, Noodles & Co., Smashburger, and Fazoli’s.
Fast casual has been around for decades, but there is a newer trend that has been surfing the fast casual wave that has consumers excited. The “fast casual pizza” trend is one that has been growing for some time now, but seems to have spiked in the last year or so. The concept of fast casual pizza has been referred to as “the Chipotle Mexican Grill of pizza,” meaning that customers proceed through an assembly line of ingredients to build their own single-serve pie. The kind of commercial restaurant equipment and ovens used to craft these personal pizzas vary from conveyor ovens to deck ovens. Consumers appreciate the fast casual pizza concept thanks to its ability to create an American favorite in a healthier, more personalized way, while still serving it quickly using powerful commercial restaurant equipment. Current contenders in the world of fast casual pizza eateries include Blaze Fast Fire’d Pizza, The Pizza Studio, PizzaRev, MOD Pizza and Pie Five Pizza, but there are also places in the market like Zpizza, a fast casual pizza chain that has been baking made-to-order pies for 27 years.
Commercial Restaurant Equipment and News from ShortOrder
Are you caught up with the most recent trends in the beverage world? Restaurants that don’t change with the times can find themselves a bit low on profit and slow in business, so it’s best to put your ice machines to good use to offer customers trending options when it comes to drinks. This week ShortOrder offers you some of the top beverage trends in the business, and some ideas about how to incorporate them into your menus, from ice machines to coffee beans.
Pour-over coffee is making headway right now in the restaurant industry. This delectable spin on your basic brew involves pouring boiling water over a filter packed with coffee grounds. The result is the freshest of cups of Joe, and it seems patrons are willing to pay a little more for the quality. To mix things up, serve pour-over coffee on ice from your ice machines.
Try out specialty ice for your cocktails if you want to give your ice machines a rest. Flavored ice cubes might include smoked ice, flowers, fruits, spices, and herbs, and alter the flavor of a drink from start to finish. Use mint-infused ice in a mint julep, or simply add a new flavor to an old favorite with ice flavored with cinnamon or nutmeg.
Spicy cocktails are another trend making the rounds at bars everywhere. This trend is manifesting in everything from cocktails with a strong splash of ginger to martinis featuring harissa, a North African chile paste. The spicy cocktail is actually part of a growing trend in preferences for foods with a kick in all areas of the menu. Take advantage of this trend by shaking up some spicy-but-subtle cocktails over ice from your ice machines.
Craft beer has been a major player in the bar scene, and it doesn’t look like it’s going away any time soon. In fact, according to the Brewers Association, craft brew sales rose saw a 17% rise last year. To take advantage of this trend, find out where your local breweries are and consider stocking some of their wares. Customers will appreciate the local patronage, and brewers will appreciate the revenue and the publicity.
More Ice Machines and Tips from ShortOrder
What drink trends are you excited about right now? How have you put your ice machines to work to cash in on beverage trends? Connect with ShortOrder on Twitter and Facebook and tell us about it! You can also browse our selection of ice machines online and find the one that fits your bar or kitchen’s needs the best.
Just a heads up to those in the foodservice industry: it might be time to prepare your restaurant equipment for Meatless Mondays.
“Really?” we hear you ask. “Didn’t Meatless Mondays go out with World War I?” Well, yes and no. During WWI, the U.S. Food Administration encouraged rationing of staple foods by promoting “Meatless Mondays” and “Wheatless Wednesdays.” Today, Meatless Monday plays something of a different role. The modern Meatless Monday was actually established in 2003 by Sid Lerner, an advertising agency executive, and is an international health campaign intent on improving the world’s eating habits one week at a time. The idea is that by cutting out meat from our diets once weekly, we can reduce our cholesterol levels, improve our heart health, and generally improve our physical well-being. It turns out that thousands of restaurants, schools, and companies have jumped on board this movement.
In many foodservice establishments, this has translated into an altered menu on Mondays, and it turns out the move may actually be good for business. Participation in Meatless Mondays allows restaurants to attract new customers, especially since, as Meatless Monday’s campaign director Peggy Neu says, it “plays into the vegetarian and ‘flexitarian’ trends.” It also allows restaurants to turn their attention to utilizing fresh, seasonal produce and local resources. But don’t worry: you don’t have to take all of your omnivorous entrées off of your restaurant equipment to participate in Meatless Monday. Add vegetarian dishes to your Monday specials and advertise your existing vegetarian dishes more prominently as well.
More Tips and Restaurant Equipment from ShortOrder
Do you participate in Meatless Mondays? Has it been a profitable a practice for your restaurant? Find ShortOrder on Twitter and Facebook and tell us about your experiences with Meatless Mondays and restaurant equipment!
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