This Week In Foodservice

The editorial team aggregates key industry information and provides brief analysis to help foodservice professionals navigate the data.


Hospitality A-Listers Remember Jeffrey Beers, and More Foodservice News

Restaurant designer Jeffrey Beers remembered. A chain invests in its late-night business, while robots make an appearance in the Los Angeles dining scene. Plus, lessons learned from a salad chain.

A collection of hospitality industry A-listers attended a celebration of life in New York City for renowned restaurant and hospitality designer Jeffrey Beers, who lost his battle with cancer earlier this year. Beers’ list of accomplishments is long (too long to list here) and distinguished. And his impact will be felt in the restaurant industry for generations to come.

Guests came together at estiatorio Milos Hudson Yards to celebrate the life of the late restaurant designer, Jeffrey Beers.Guests came together at estiatorio Milos Hudson Yards to celebrate the life of the late restaurant designer Jeffrey Beers.The Founder and CEO of Jeffrey Beers International, some of his best-known projects include Jay Z’s 40/40 Club, Cafe Boulud New York, BondST Hudson Yards, Porter House Bar & Grill, as well as internationally renowned restaurants, hotels, resorts, and residences such as estiatorio Milos Dubai, and Peter Luger Las Vegas. Beers was a frequent contributor to restaurant development + design magazine, sharing his perspective, his company’s work and more over the years.

Not surprisingly, some of the industry’s most renowned chefs and restauranteurs shared glowing testimonials about what it was like to work with Beers as well as his legacy.

“As a talented architect and designer, Jeffrey could transform a client’s sketchy ideas into detailed, nuanced projects perfectly suited to their needs. His vision and infectious enthusiasm kept projects moving forward to achieve lasting success,” says Chef Michael Lomonaco.

“Jeffrey was an artist with a brilliant mind, always pairing classic elegance with contemporary design. He was a passionate and talented architect who led and mentored the next generation with brilliance and good taste, and they will continue to carry on his legacy. Jeffrey was generous, kind, and fun to work with, and the entire hospitality industry misses him dearly,” says Chef Daniel Boulud.

Foodservice News This Week

  • Restaurants’ performance improved slightly in May but not enough to lift the industry out of contraction mode. The National Restaurant Association’s Restaurant Performance Index came in at 99.1 in May, which is slightly better than April’s level of 98.8. Anytime this composite index comes in at less than 100, though, it indicates contraction in the restaurant industry. Operators reported net declines in both same-store sales and customer traffic in May, marking the continuation of a soft patch that began early in 2024. Looking ahead, restaurant operators’ outlook for sales is mixed, while their expectations for the economy remain generally pessimistic.
  • What can business leaders learn from a salad chain? Turns out, quite a bit. Texas-based restaurant consultant Matthew Mabel reflects on a recent visit to Salad and Go in this blog post. He rightfully notes that key ingredients to any brand’s success are clear messaging, empowering frontline personnel to do what they think is best when it comes to serving customers and having a keen understanding that value equates how a customer feels about their experience.
  • A quick-service robot-powered Chinese restaurant has opened up in Los Angeles, per an Eater story. The owners of Tigawok describe their restaurant as “if Panda Express and Chipotle had a baby but offered more traditional Chinese cuisine.” The 1,500-square-foot restaurant uses automated robots to prepare dishes from a menu that includes 15 to 18 items.
  • Coffee sales continue to percolate. Year-over-year visits to coffee chains increased in every single state from the first five months of 2023 to the first half of 2024, per a Nation’s Restaurant News story that cites data. That translates into 5.1% traffic growth for coffee chains around the country. Interestingly, the biggest boost in foot traffic came from smaller, rural markets.
  • Is the late-night daypart making a comeback? White Castle thinks that is the case. With orders placed between 7 p.m. and 3 a.m. becoming a large part of its sales mix, the Ohio-based chain is adding more staff to serve this daypart, according to a Restaurant Dive story.
  • ProStart educators at 40 high schools across the country will each receive $5,000 in grants from The Rachael Ray Foundation and the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation. The recipients can use these grants to enhance their programs with new equipment, curriculum, and experiential learning opportunities. The grants are the latest round of financial support from The Rachael Ray Foundation, which has dedicated more than $1 million over the last five years to foster learning and engagement in ProStart classrooms through The Rachael Ray Foundation ProStart Grow Grant program.

Economic News

  • The number of job openings totaled 8.1 million in May, per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is up slightly from April’s total of 7.9 million. Economists had projected job openings to come in at 7.1 million, per CNN, which is just another indication of the labor market’s resilience. In the accommodation and foodservice category, the total number of separations totaled 779,000 for May, which was down from April’s level of 827,000.
  • Both personal income and disposable personal income increased 0.5% in May, according to estimates released from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. The PCE price index decreased less than 0.1%.
  • Consumer sentiment changed little in June, per the latest University of Michigan Index of Consumer Sentiment. The university reports this month’s reading was “a statistically insignificant 3.5 index points below May and within the margin of error.” Sentiment is 31% more than the trough seen in June 2022 amid the escalation in inflation. Assessments of personal finances dipped due to modestly rising concerns over high prices as well as weakening incomes, the university added.
  • May sales of new single‐family houses declined 11.3% compared to the previous month, per the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. This also represents a decline of 16.5% compared to May 2023. The 619,000 new homes sold in May represent the lowest total in six months, per Reuters, who added that economists had projected monthly sales of 640,000 units.
  • Riding the strength of the transportation sector, new orders for manufactured durable goods increased 0.1% in May compared to the previous month, per the U.S. Census Bureau. This follows a 0.1% April increase. Excluding transportation, new orders decreased 0.1%. Some economists had projected a 0.1% declined in durable goods orders for the month, per published reports.
  • Initial jobless claims declined by 6,000 for a total of 233,000 for the week ending June 22, 2024, per the U.S. Department of Labor. The 4-week moving average was 236,000, an increase of 3,000 from the previous week. Despite the decline, this represents the most people collecting unemployment since November of 2021, per the Associated Press.
  • Real gross domestic product increased at an annual rate of 1.4% in the first quarter of 2024, per the third estimate from U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. This is 0.1% greater than the second estimate. In the fourth quarter of 2023, real GDP increased 3.4%. The upward revision primarily reflected a downward revision to imports, which are a subtraction in the calculation of GDP, and upward revisions to nonresidential fixed investment and government spending. These revisions were partly offset by a downward revision to consumer spending.