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


Remember “The Chipotle Effect” and the rise of the super customizable, fast-casual-style meal? Various foodservice consultants see something similar on the horizon. We shall call it: “The Curbside Effect.”

Many feel the world has almost made it through the rocky pandemic period and can see the outlines of a once dimly glimpsed future becoming clearer. It’s been a wild ride for the restaurant industry. The rise in off-premises dining, the growth of third-party delivery services, the proliferation of ghost kitchens and the explosion of mobile ordering represent long-standing trends that went into overdrive as restaurants strove to survive.

Half of the average brewery’s revenue comes from on-premises sales, according to the Beverage Marketing Association (BMA). So, naturally, the segment dried up when states ordered nonessential businesses — including restaurants, bars and taprooms — to close.

As restaurants continue their mission to bring customers back, more creative and aggressive marketing campaigns continue to emerge. 

Pizzerias represent 10% of all full-service and quick-service restaurants, with about 73,000 pizzerias in the U.S. and 21,000 Italian pizza and pasta restaurants (think Olive Garden, Carrabba’s Italian Grill and California Pizza Kitchen), according to data insights from CHD Expert released in January 2021. A whopping 94% of all Americans eat pizza regularly.

Commissary kitchens are licensed commercial spaces that include both cooking and storage facilities for preparing and storing food. These are typically large-scale environments regulated by local health departments. Commissaries can serve as a central kitchen for one concept or as rented kitchen space for multiple businesses or food providers.

A trio of accomplished foodservice designers dish on everything from the latest trends to the future of robotics and more. 

The food station has become a standard design component of many foodservice operations over the past few years.

Cold prep stations play a vital role in commercial kitchens. Staff use these spaces to lay out ingredients from the walk-in cooler and assemble them into menu items served cold. Cold prep areas also serve as the initial assembly points for dishes that will move on to the hot line for cooking.

“When everything returns to normal” is a phrase we hear a lot these days. But “normal” continues to become the “new normal” as restaurants and foodservice operations adapt, change and modernize to meet both the old normal demands and the new ones created during the pandemic.

Office buildings, schools and events venues that aren’t already open will likely resume operations in the coming weeks and months. These restarts will include commercial kitchens for cafeterias and food vendors.

While ice cream shops continue to innovate and expand offerings, frozen yogurt concepts have experienced more challenges.

Diners seek meal customization opportunities and specialized menus for a variety of reasons, including specific diets, lifestyle choices, food allergies and anything in between.

For a moment, the future of expediting stations looked bleak. With the pandemic causing indoor dining closures and reduced dining room capacity nationwide, some operators and designers were left wondering if the traditional kitchen pass-through would suddenly turn into nothing more than a holding and filling station for takeout containers and to-go bags.

Foodservice consultant Joe Sorgent at Cini•Little International Inc. offers a consultant’s take on which pandemic-induced changes will be for good and which may fade away. 

In our conversations with foodservice designers lately, it seems — at least for some — deadlines are approaching faster as projects put on hold during the pandemic are ramping up.