Trends

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

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Today’s casual dining brands face growing competition from fast-casual concepts, food halls, chef-driven, fine-dining restaurants and nontraditional operators. It’s an increasingly crowded, diverse industry. To stand out, many operators continue to rethink and enhance branding, strategy, design and operations. One such restaurant chain is Beef ‘O’ Brady’s, a Florida-based, family sports-centric restaurant with an Irish pub theme and a menu of burgers, steaks and other beef-based items, along with chicken wings, comfort food and lighter, grilled items.

As the lines between retail and foodservice continue to blur, specifying opportunities in the convenience-store segment may rise. Ryan Krebs, director of food service for Rutter’s, a 72-unit chain based in York, Pa., outlines 5 c-store-specific equipment and design needs.

Years after flooding urban markets across the country, concepts that started as food trucks are morphing into more permanent brick-and-mortar spaces. One such example of a food truck finding a permanent parking place in the brick-and-mortar world is Boston-based Clover Food Lab. Here Lucia Jazayeri, creative director at Clover Food Lab, maps out the company’s transition.

Much like a discussion of the Greatest Of All Time in any given sport, discussing the best barbecue style can evolve into a heated debate. “It is one of those few foods that holds nostalgia,” says Rémy Thurston, marketing director, FS Food Group, a Charlotte, N.C.-based operator that has four different restaurant brands under its umbrella. “People recognize barbecue more in the South, but it can be difficult because the best barbecue is the one you grew up with.”

A mature segment, the burger business continues its stronghold in this country as plant-based proteins start to take root on its menus.

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 Americans with Disabilities Act impacts the way customers enter and exit foodservice operations and experience every point in between. Two critical aspects of foodservice operations that continue to evolve are serving and seating areas.

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.

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.

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.

With the U.S. commercial casino industry posting another record-setting year with consumer spending in 2018, according to the most recent report from Washington, D.C.-based American Gaming Association (AGA), this segment of the foodservice industry remains ripe with opportunity.

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.

It’s a simple fact: Drinks have significantly higher profit margins than food, making smooth, efficient bar operations mission critical for most restaurants. The ability to serve more drinks — and to do so more quickly — equates directly to higher profits and that fact makes careful, strategic design the foundation for highly efficient, profitable bars. A cornerstone of that foundation for many is the service bar, an important area of beverage-program support that can help eliminate service bottlenecks and free the bar proper to focus on the business at hand — engaging with and servicing guests at the bar.

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.

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