How Global Trends Are Influencing Our Food Habits

Current market assessments strongly suggest that seafood consumption will rise year over year. According to Foodable Labs, food influencers have increased their references to seafood by 24.7 percent—a surge larger than any other protein.  Consumers under the age of 40 now constitute almost 40 percent of the United States, and they are searching for new types of protein that are nutritious, responsibly sourced, and carefully prepared.

At the last Foodable.io event in Seattle, Paul Barron hosted a panel discussing the latest seafood trends with three rising chefs in the industry: Keith Brunell, corporate chef at retail and food and beverage giant Nordstrom, Derek Simcik, the executive chef at rooftop bar Scout and The Nest (part of the boutique hotel Thompson Seattle), and Lionel Uddipa, the chef de cuisine for new American restaurant Salt in Juneau, Alaska.

Sustainability is no longer a trend: for many restaurants, it is becoming a necessity and an integral part of day-to-day operations. More and more customers want to know where products come from and how they are sourced and handled—and they want to keep the flavor compositions simple and truly taste the fish itself. Customization and accommodation options also popular to ensure that every consumer receives a dish that meets the needs of their preferred diet.

“As far as the cooking technique, we don’t do a lot. We try to serve the dish in its most purest form,” says Uddipa. “We’ve learned that if you have a story associated with the dish, the customer tends to pinpoint that. They understand and are amazed by the vision and the creation that went into the dish.”

To learn more about the latest trends and educating both consumers and cooks regarding seafood preparation, listen to the full episode of the podcast above.

Why Data Ownership Should Be Key When It Comes to Tech in Foodservice

According to the National Restaurant Association’s State of the Industry 2019 report, “more than 8 in 10 restaurant operators agree that the use of technology in a restaurant provides a competitive advantage, and many are planning to ramp up their investments in technology in 2019.

This is great news for consumers but with so many choices in the technology sector, operators can be left feeling overwhelmed.

What’s important to remember is whichever tech advancement— whether it's their POS, online ordering, smartphone app, mobile payment, or loyalty program— operators decide to prioritize, it must make sense for their type of business and unique customer needs.

Watch the video above to learn how BurgerFi accurately figured out what tech advancements make sense for their business to get a proper ROI and how data ownership must be a priority in this day and age!

Produced and Researched by:

Vanessa Rodriguez

Vanessa Rodriguez

Writter & Producer


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FAT Brands Embraces Ghost Kitchens

FAT Brands is adding ghost kitchens to its repertoire. The global franchising company has acquired a number of major restaurant brands, including Fatburger, Buffalo’s Express, and Yalla Mediterranean. And, in a unique spin on the ghost kitchen concept, some of those brands might be seeing their menu items available for delivery via other brick-and-mortar restaurants owned by the conglomerate.

Ghost kitchens represent a low risk delivery option for budding entrepreneurs and restaurants. For those looking to start a business in high-rent places like New York City, ghost kitchens save hundreds of thousands of dollars in square footage alone.

Updating and expanding a menu is also an easier and more lucrative process. Peter Schatzberg, the founder of virtual kitchen Green Summit, notes that for a traditional restaurant, it can cost over $800,000 to try a new menu. For Green Summit, if a menu fails to gain traction, the company only loses about $25,000.

According to Andy Wiederhorn, the president and CEO of FAT Brands, the company simply wants to do what is best for customers. “We want to take the opportunity to offer our brands everywhere we can,” says Wiederhorn. “We don’t necessarily have to have a brick-and-mortar location.”

Just last month, FAT Brands acquired fast casual chain Elevation Burger for $10 million. Elevation Burger currently maintains over 50 locations worldwide. Later this year, FAT Brands intends to offer a modified Elevation Burger menu out of select sister brand restaurants for delivery purposes only. According to Wiederhorn, the move would ideally provide a supplementary revenue source for franchise partners.

“It doesn't grow unit count, it grows total sales per franchisee,” adds Wiederhorn. “Our entire focus is on the success of our franchisees.”

FAT Brands has already implemented a similar co-branding strategy for its Fatburger and Buffalo’s Express brands. Over 100 of Fatburger and Buffalo’s Express restaurants are placed in the same location, uniting the two brands under one roof and driving up the average unit volume by 20 to 30 percent.

FAT Brands is also looking to experiment with adding a few plant-based and vegan Fatburger items to the Elevation Burger menu. Elevation Burger already prioritizes organic and sustainable meat, so FAT Brands is hoping current customers will be interested in trying plant-based options. And according to Wiederhorn, Tyson’s plant-based nuggets—courtesy of its Raised & Rooted brand—may also be on the menu.

NYC Council Investigates Third Party Delivery Companies

This past June, the Small Business Committee within the City Council of New York conducted a hearing regarding third party delivery business practices. The investigation, entitled “The Changing Market for Food Delivery,” is arguably the first of its kind. The hearing endeavored to address the growing tensions between restaurant operators and third party delivery companies.

“New York continues to be a trailblazer,” said Committee Chairman Mark Gjonaj. “I’m proud to be part of this historic moment.”

Restaurant operators hope that the hearing will kindle new government regulations that better protect the needs of the industry. According to Robert Bookman, counsel for the local industry trade group New York City Hospitality Alliance, “We’re calling for both the federal government and the state attorney general to look into this matter.”

The Small Business Committee called on restaurant operators, third party delivery companies, and various trade groups to share their practices, concerns, and complaints. The hearing was open to the public. Discussion ran long, and largely focused on rate structures, questionable fees, and the future plans of third party delivery companies.

The difference in perspective between the restaurant operators and the third party deliverers was considerable. Operators like Robert Guarino, the co-founder of 5 Napkin Burger, argued that delivery companies have every intention of moving toward discarding restaurants and offering their own meals for delivery. Third party representatives emphatically denied this claim.

Andrew Rigie, the executive director of the Hospitality Alliance, provided the council with an extensive list of questions for third party deliverers. Some of the questions addressed:

  • If financial factors don’t determine where a restaurant is listed on a third party’s app, what variables do? How can restaurants be safeguarded against erroneous fees?

  • Who owns the information on a restaurant’s customers who order through a third party, and what happens to the data if the establishment pulls out of the arrangement?

  • Does the prominence and penetration of the big third-party delivery services constitute a restraint of trade?

Restaurant operators appear to universally agree that third party delivery companies need to interact with restaurants in a clearer and more transparent fashion, and third party representatives at the council pledged to provide that. Next steps for both sides of the industry, however, remain unclear.

Summer Fancy Food Show Highlights Plant-Based The Little Beet

The Specialty Food Association (SFA) annually hosts the Summer Fancy Food Show in New York City. The largest specialty food and beverage event in North America, the Summer Fancy Food Show features a growing number of restaurants and organizations focused on providing innovative menus and products.

This year, host Paul Barron interviewed a number of leaders in the industry. Becky Mulligan, a former Starbucks executive and the new CEO of The Little Beet, offered her perspective on the growing consumer demand for plant-based products.

After spending sixteen years overseeing thousands of Starbucks units, Becky Mulligan switched gears in 2018 and joined The Little Beet team.

The fast casual veggie restaurant chain just seemed like a perfect fit. “It was perfect for my lifestyle,” says Mulligan. “I was drawn to the concept immediately.”

The Little Beet recently expanded its offerings to a full service gluten-free restaurant: The Little Beet Table. According to Mulligan, the two branches work in tandem: customers continue to go to The Little Beet for a quick, healthy breakfasts and lunches, and they go to The Little Beet Table for dinner, drinks, and special occasions.

“People are becoming more educated about what they consume,” notes Mulligan. “It’s helped us to have a broader platform to talk about why it’s good to have a plant-based diet.” While she emphasizes that plant-based foods should make up the bulk of your diet, balance rather than guilt is ultimately the goal. “We want consumers to have accessible food that is good for you—and that you want to eat.”

All food at both The Little Beet and The Little Beet Table is made fresh everyday. All vegetables and ingredients are prepared from scratch, and the company avoids added sugars and non-blended oils. These prerequisites can be challenging for staff in terms of ensuring everyone is served in a timely fashion, but rewarding for the brand and customers alike.

The Little Beet currently consists of ten units, and there are four The Little Beet Table locations. Mulligan says the company hopes to double those numbers by next year. The chain is also developing a beverage platform.

Check out the video above to learn more about the future of The Little Beet and the company’s plant-based mission.