Trends

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

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Ventless represents an emerging foodservice equipment segment. And like every other type of equipment, whether ventless is right for a specific application comes down to a variety of factors, including menu composition, service style, infrastructure and more.

The health halo continues to dominate the incoming wave of menu trends, along with global ingredients. Spirulina (a microalgae), furikake (a Japanese seasoning) and moringa (a plant native to India) all sit among the latest items ripe for adaptation.

Like that new-car smell that signifies something brand-new, freshness permeates throughout the roughly 900-square-foot kitchen at the Jewish Community Center (JCC) of Greater Columbus in Columbus, Ohio. As the winner of FE&S Kitchen Storage Makeover contest, the facility’s kitchen received a refresh over a four-day period in early August.

The recent rebranding of family dining chains IHOP and Denny’s serve as indicators that the face of family dining continues to change. It comes at a good time, as Port Washington, N.Y.-based NPD Group reports the decline of mid-scale/family dining traffic has bypassed the decline of both casual and fine dining in 2018 compared to the year prior.

Doughnuts continue to maintain a strong following after seeing explosive growth in small-batch, artisanal shops in urban markets a few years ago. Current twists on the trend include nontraditional fillings like liqueurs and Earl Grey cream, according to the National Restaurant Association’s 2019 What’s Hot culinary forecast.

Given the tight market conditions that continue to permeate today’s foodservice industry, operators remain wise when they follow the flow of consumers money. Oftentimes following that flow leads right to the beverage business. In fact, beverage programs remain a key ingredient in many operators’ recipe for success.

A number of terms continue to define foodservice today: artisanal, farm-to-table, global and regional, to name just a few. Almost all of them tie in one way or another to the concept of authenticity. Today’s consumers demand their food not just taste great but also connect with its origins, whether that be in terms of ingredients or prep method. That’s particularly true when it comes to ethnic dishes.

Operators have always tried to limit the size of their kitchens. After all, a smaller kitchen equals more room for seats -- and more revenue -- from the front of the house.

Some operations, along with industry trends like food halls, take the small kitchen ethos to the extreme, resulting in full kitchens that occupy just a few hundred square feet or even less.

While this can maximize revenue, operators must keep service in mind when they set up shop in such a small space.

Operators create display kitchens to add a sense of excitement and theater to their restaurants. At the same time, these spaces need to be efficient. When building a display kitchen, it’s important for operators to keep one more factor, service, in mind.

Many kitchens rely on fiberglass reinforced plastic (FRP) panels for their kitchen walls. Not only are these often cheaper than tile, they’re generally easier to clean and maintain. That doesn’t mean FRP panels are a zero-maintenance item, though.

Like all types of foodservice equipment, determining whether ventless items are right for a specific application requires asking the right questions. Here a collection of seasoned foodservice professionals share a few questions — and answers — they commonly ask when trying to determine whether ventless equipment is right for a given project.

Yes, America, we’re aging. And quickly.

Getting new kitchen equipment up and running is no small task. It can involve operators, dealers, service agencies, skilled trades and general contractors. With so many parties, it’s easy for missteps to occur when attempting to start up a new piece of equipment in either a new kitchen or an existing operation.

Rooftop bars and eating spaces continue to shine, particularly in urban areas. Designing a rooftop versus a street-level foodservice outlet comes with a variety of equipment and design considerations.

The original foodservice convenience, drive-thru options at restaurants have been a big deal for American consumers since at least the 1960s. And while the scope of convenience continues to snowball, drive-thrus remain a big deal and an increasingly critical part of the American foodservice landscape.

Customers’ experience at service lines contributes greatly to their overall dining satisfaction. For staff members, efficiency takes priority in a service line. Their experience in how well the line runs affects their morale and, in turn, how well they interact with customers. Layout and equipment selection contribute to all of the above.

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