Trends

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

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A bar’s seating is as important to the overall brand as the menu, music and service. Consider the fabric, frame material, size of seat, upholstery, weight and color as the seating sets the stage for the dining experience.

One of the less obvious but no less important aspects of a commercial bar is the bar top. It is what customers come into direct contact with, may remain at for long periods and impacts their interaction with staff. In other words, it is a big part of the overall experience at an establishment.

How would you design a kitchen knowing  that customers will never see it?

Whether you’re a designer, a MAS consultant or both, maintaining creativity, and oftentimes, going beyond the status quo remains crucial for maintaining relevancy, competitiveness and success. So is looking for inspiration beyond your normal sources.

No longer relegated to Spanish-style fare, small plates have become ubiquitous on menus across a variety of foodservice segments. Chefs can experiment and be creative, while diners appreciate a lower-cost sampling opportunity.

Consumers continue to show a growing appetite for online and mobile ordering options in the restaurant industry and beyond. In fact, food purchased for off-premises consumption now accounts for 60 percent of all restaurant occasions, according to data from the National Restaurant Association.

Once upon a time and not so long ago, hungry vegans had to avoid mainstream restaurants, cobble together meals of sides and salads, and/or feel like pariahs for requesting their orders not only be meat-free but also be prepared without butter, eggs, cream, cheese, meat stock and other animal-derived staples. Relegated to fringe status and misunderstood or simply ignored, they were rare enough to warrant scant attention from chefs and menu developers focused on the meat-eating masses.

The only constant is change.

As ethnic fare continues on a strong trajectory, the popularity of West African cuisine across the U.S. grows. The National Restaurant Association placed West African cuisine/flavors second in its global flavors ranking in its What’s Hot 2019 culinary forecast. These foods appeal to those seeking traditional dishes of the region made with authentic, spicy and healthy ingredients, some more familiar than others.

Insight guru Warren Solochek takes a deep dive into industry data this month to provide a no-nonsense analysis of the industry. Readers can look forward to his continued perspective throughout the year as part of FE&S’s 2020 Vision series. Now an independent foodservice industry consultant, Solochek’s been trend-spotting for nearly 40 years, most recently for NPD Group Inc.

How about some ginger pork dumplings or Korean short rib baos with your dart game? Table tennis and grilled chicken thigh kebabs, anyone? Or maybe it’s some wine and pasta while viewing the latest blockbuster — or a local craft beer and smoked brisket sandwich at the ballgame?

Stadium food as destination dining? That is not a far-fetched notion. Selection, food quality, menu flexibility and customer service have become focal points for stadium foodservice operators. Many stadium facilities already have become food destinations, according to Los Angeles-based IBISWorld. Demand for food and beverages in this segment grew between 2014 and 2019, along with the steady increase in attendance at sports and other entertainment events.

While chef bases don’t grab your attention like a chargrill or fryer, they play a key role in food production in many kitchens. Points of failure on these units include standard refrigeration components to drawers and doors. Here are some tips to keeping these pieces up and running.

Move over chicken fingers and mac and cheese; kids’ menus have become more diverse, incorporating appealing ingredients in formats that are palatable for the younger set. As quick-service chains revamp their offerings with more nutritious vegetable sides and fruit desserts, independents continue to reformulate their kids’ menu items to be more diverse. Along with better-for-you options, more ethnic dishes with globally inspired ingredients are starting to appear on these menus.

They say the road to hell is paved with good intentions. They could say the same thing about the road to unnecessary, expensive service calls. The reason: When foodservice operators clean and perform light servicing of their kitchen equipment, they can sometimes make mistakes that force a service agent to undo those efforts.

Ask five people in foodservice-related occupations to give their predictions for 2020, and you’ll hear five totally different answers (or almost totally different). One concern — finding and keeping good employees — affects every aspect of foodservice, from front-of-the-house service to sales to consulting. With that as a starting point, five foodservice industry leaders share their vision for 2020 and beyond.

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