Can Retail Experience Predict the Foodservice Future?

The big news in the grocery business is the sale of Safeway to Albertson’s parent company, Cerberus Capital. Safeway, the number two grocery retailer in the U.S., did not believe it had the strength to “go-it-alone” in the fast changing retail business.

After years of fighting off, Wal-Mart, Target, WINCO and Aldi on the lower-priced side, and Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s on the natural, sustainable, quality side, the huge retailer looks to merge, cut costs and manage the steepness of their decline.

Is there a lesson for foodservice operators in this equation? Below are the highlights followed by my comment for foodservice operators.  Read more »

Guest Post – The Angela Test

Many years ago, when I was a young father, my wife and I would go out to a restaurant once a week for a meal. During the years my daughter was a toddler and we were “potty” training her, she would, without exception, request a trip to the restroom. I saw a lot of restrooms.  However, on most visits she would do nothing, just visit! Despite this outcome, we still visited the restrooms when she requested because at her training stage, we didn’t want to take chances.  We joked that she was inspecting the restrooms as a test about the quality of the food. As I grew older and involved in businesses that serve the public I realized the importance of the “Angela Test”. Read more »

Guest Post – Grocerant – Where Grocery & Restaurants Meet

Acosta is out with its bi-annual “The Why? Behind The Buy” study, which purports to identify top trends affecting the supermarket industry, concluding that there is a growing “intersection of eating in and eating out” and that people increasingly are seeing the grocery store as a restaurant, or “grocerant.”

Millennials, the study suggests, are prime adopters of this trend, “eating out by actually eating in as they take advantage of ready-to-eat foods and meal solution offerings from grocery stores, quick-serve restaurants, food delivery and take away.”

Among the other study conclusions:

• Seventy-seven percent of total U.S. shoppers reported eating out in the past month.
• Sixty-six percent brought home prepared foods.
• Sixty-five percent bought food at a restaurant drive through.
• Sixty-four percent ordered food from a restaurant for pick-up/carryout.
• Breakfast and snacking has seen the most growth in away from home eating.

Guest Post – The American hot sauce craze in one mouth-watering chart

Hot sauce is having more than just a moment; it’s having a decade.sauces

The US hot sauce market has grown by 150% since 2000, which is more than that of BBQ sauce, ketchup, mayonnaise and mustard—combined

America’s fast-growing palate for hot sauce has a lot to do with the country’s rising immigrant population. The influx of Asians and Latinos, both of which traditionally have higher tolerances for spice, has helped to make spicy food more conventional. “Young Americans aren’t shying away from spicier food,” Matt Hudak, a US food industry expert for Euromonitor told Quartz.

But hot sauce has also been riding the coat tails of hot wing sales. “There’s been enormous growth in the popularity of hot wings,” Hudak said. “Sriracha, Tabasco, and Frank’s Red Hot, in particular, have really benefitted from that.” Americans now eat some 25 billion chicken wings per year. 

Chili pepper is basically creeping into every foodstuff in the US these days. Spicy snack chips, spiced soups and chili chocolate are all derivatives of the country’s hot sauce craze.

Originally appeared in

Why I Hate Foodservice Gloves and You Should Too

I worked in kitchens and managed kitchens throughout the 1970’s and 80’s. There was generally good awareness of food safety, cross contamination and basic responsibility to the dining public. In those days, we restaurant managers feared health department inspection. Today’s foodservice kitchens are buttoned up; HACCP trained and have a much greater awareness of Standard Operating Procedures and Ops Manuals. Today’s restaurant manager fears a lawsuit.

Around 20 years ago, food-handling gloves began showing up in foodservice kitchens. The theory was that gloves would protect diners from bacteria and the spread of disease. Foodservice workers would don the gloves and magically, cleanliness and food safety would rise.  Read more »

Guest Post: How Will The Minimum Wage Laws Affect My Restaurant?

“They work their tails off and are still barely above poverty”

President Barrack Obama uttered those words to the nation as he was lobbying congress to increase the federal minimum wage.

If you’re a restaurant owner, you’ve been following this story for some time now. In downtown Chicago, the protests by fast-food workers were seen throughout summer as a movement known as Fight for 15 fought for an increase in the federal minimum wage to $15/hour.

Since this is such a big topic, we wanted to spell out in plain terms what exactly is going on with the minimum wage laws, and how it may affect your restaurant. Read more »

Leadership from the Top: How Corporate America is Leading a Green Packaging Revolution

If your company is fortunate to sell products to Wal-Mart, McDonald’s or Starbucks, you’ll do just about anything to maintain the relationship.  To say that these corporate giants have leverage over their vendors, is hardly a reach.  It’s like sleeping next to an elephant … when the elephant moves, you move.

As the world’s top retailer, fast food restaurant and coffee house set new corporate policies about more environmentally-sensitive products, vendors scramble to respond and provide creative alternatives. In addition, competitors follow the industry leaders, which in turn begins to effect real change on our environment.  Read more »

2014 Foodservice Predictions

The greatest thing about writing a prediction piece is that there is no downside. The writer appears important and on-trend, a true “pundit”. If you are right, you reinforce your punditry and if you are wrong, no one remembers … so here goes.

Moderate Sales Growth

Outside of Wall Street, which had a great year, most Americans had a moderate 2013. There has been some improvement in the economy, but not the type of robust recovery economists expect at this point in the business cycle. Millions are still out of work or under-employed. Interests rate are beginning to rise and of course, the rollout of Obamacare has many feeling uncertain of their healthcare costs for the New Year. Technomic predicts a moderate 4.1 growth rate for 2014. Not bad, but, ingredient and labor costs are rising faster.  Read more »

Guest Post – NRA – Top 10 Predicted Menu Trends for 2014

Here are the Top 10 Trends from the National Restaurant Association

  1. Locally sourced meats and seafood
  2. Locally grown produce
  3. Environmental sustainability
  4. Healthful kids’ meals
  5. Gluten-free cuisine
  6. Hyper-local sourcing
  7. Children’s nutrition
  8. Non-wheat noodles/pasta
  9. Sustainable seafood
  10. Farm/estate branded items

None of these have come as a big surprise as most of these menu trends have begun to develop in 2013. If your restaurant has not already taken the initiative to start implementing some of these menu trends you might want to put in on the to do list for 2014. Why is it important to pay attention to this list? Read more »

The Rising Popularity of Foodservice Mac and Cheese

Pasta and cheese casseroles have appeared in cookbooks as early as the 14th century’s Liber de Coquina. It is a French dish of Parmesan and pasta. A cheese and pasta casserole known as makerouns was recorded in the famous medieval French cookbook The Forme of Cury. In a 1769 book, The Experienced French Housekeeper, there was a recipe for macaroni, sprinkled with Parmesan and baked until bubbly and golden.

Kraft introduced boxed Mac & Cheese in 1937 and solidified the dish in Americana cuisine. Read more »