Keeping the foodservice equipment marketplace up to date with the latest menu and concept trends.


A number of operators have shifted their business models to at least temporarily include meal kits and pantry items in an effort to increase revenue. This follows a trend that was in full bloom prior to the pandemic. By 2022, research firm Statistica expects the meal kit market to more than double, reaching $11.6 billion dollars. In the last half of 2018, 14.3 million households purchased meal kits, up from 3.8 million households in 2017.

Outfitting external bars requires planning with an eye toward the elements when selecting materials and equipment.

The brakes slammed business to a halt for many food trucks early on in the COVID-19 crisis as the types of business and social gatherings which drive traffic also came to a screeching stop. But in many states, food trucks, like other off-premises foodservice operations, have been deemed essential. They continue to serve customers (queued up 6 feet apart) and have stepped up to provide mobile foodservice solutions for healthcare and other frontline workers.

The impact of COVID-19 will result in significant declines in foodservice sales for 2020. While restaurant operators shift focus to exclusively off-premises service to help soften the blow, expect the overall sales decline to be deep and potentially unprecedented.

These upgraded food court-style formats provide operators with a low barrier to entry, which may be the saving grace of concepts in a post-pandemic foodservice environment, even if communal dining trends fade.

An attractive, well-functioning front of the house can serve as a major draw for customers.

Even a pandemic such as COVID-19 can’t completely take away emerging chains’ appetite for growth. Moving forward, though, these multiunit operators will continue to adjust their designs and equipment packages to deliver brand-defining experiences  for customers, whether they choose to dine on- or off-premises.

The speed, scope and ramifications of coronavirus-driven societal and industry changes are stunning. Unlike during the economic recession of 2008, when the fast-casual segment rose to prominence and QSRs upped their game as budget-conscious customers traded down, this global health pandemic leaves few seats for winners at the table. 

With health and food safety on the forefront of consumers’ minds today, salad would seem a safe and smart bet. Yet, when it is available in a self-serve format, diners may now take pause.

Restaurant chains Beef 'O' Brady's and Taziki’s may operate in different industry segments but like a growing number of chains they have adapted their product mix for the time being to include groceries.

Restaurants may have cleaning and sanitation procedures and training in place, but to be effective, operators need to properly enforce these steps. Inspection reports made public by the Center for Science in the Public Interest as well as word of mouth via social media serve as big incentives to making sure staff follow the necessary steps to the letter.

Just as on the commercial side of the industry, K-12 foodservice operators have been forced to create new operating playbooks during the COVID-19 crisis. And just as for restaurant operators, the fluidity of the situation and persistent spread of the coronavirus demands flexibility and determination on the part of directors and their staffs to adjust and adapt.

Kathleen Held was promoted from chief marketing officer to chief executive officer for Cini•Little International, a Maryland-based foodservice consulting firm.

Last month’s Service Insights focused on how equipment misuse and abuse leads to avoidable service calls on the hot side.

Sushi concepts and inclusion on menus keep growing across the country, as the on-trend, healthful cuisine continues to gain widespread appeal.

Fire-roasted foods impart a unique, very distinctive flavor, which explains the popularity of this type of cooking. For example, fire roasting works well with vegetables, which helps expand the repertoire of vegetarian and vegan menus. This cooking method adds a depth of flavor that traditional roasting, baking or boiling cannot achieve, according to St. Charles, Ill.-based Global Food Forums.