Tag Archives: Cheesecake Factory

Central’s Week in Brief: August 19, 2011

Every Friday Central brings you stories from the week that you might have missed, but that are definitely worth a look. We feature food news covering everything from the weird to the wonderful in the world of restaurants, schools, the military and more. It’s our way to help you go into the weekend with a little extra knowledge and maybe even a project or recipe to try out!

 1. While food trucks and restaurants have been battling it out since the trend began, a part of Canada may just be figuring out how to make the relationship work.  This Calgary Herald article discusses a new food truck pilot program, which essentially maps out where food trucks can park. One of the individuals interviewed even told the reporter he had received calls from restaurants and pubs in the area asking he park near them!

2. Lately restaurants have been getting slack for unhealthy menu items, but let’s not forget those who really are making changes for the better.  MSN Fitbie covered the topic showcasing some of these healthier changes such as Cheesecake Factory’s SkinnyLicious menu items, McDonald’s revised Happy Meal that replaces fries with apples and Chick-fil-A’s multigrain oatmeal.

3. Where do Millennials (ages 16-24) enjoy dining the most?  Quick-service restaurants.  It makes sense, after all they are always on the go.  Convenience Store News recently wrote about the Executive Insights report that looked into this, finding 20 percent of Generation Y go to a QSR every other day.  Some favorite QSRs found in the study included Chick-fil-A, Dunkin’ Donuts, McDonalds, Chipolte and Boston Market.

4. Schools are continuously looking for ways to curb childhood obesity.  This USA Today article discusses one of the latest topics from a School Nutrition Association (SNA) survey, which looked into how long students actually have for lunch.  They found the average time was 25-30 minutes, but after factoring in using the restroom then waiting in the lunch line, it’s approximately 10-15 minutes.  SNA found healthy foods can take longer to eat and in a rush, students opt for the unhealthier quicker items. Perhaps making lunch a little longer could help in solving the childhood obesity problem?

5. “Rockuccinos” and “You Shook Me All Night Long Moscatos” makes one wonder if rock bands are taking over the foodservice industry.  Well, it might be a possibility! KISS will be opening up a coffee house in Las Vegas, which will be their second location (the first being in Myrtle Beach).  Then band AC/DC recently announced a new partnership with New South Wales on a wine collection.  This New York Post article mentions some of the names which are “Back in Black” Shiraz, “Highway to Hell” Cabernet Sauvignon and “Hells Bells” Sauvignon Blanc.

Why is Everything So Small? The Rising Popularity of the Small Plate Meal

Appetizers; Image from MorgueFileIt seems like no matter what restaurant you may stop into for a bite, you can’t miss items like tiny lamb kabobs, small shrimp skewers and a generally miniature version of just about anything. It seems choices like sliders are no longer just a novelty saved for the likes of White Castle, but have become commonplace everywhere from high end eateries to your local Houlihan’s.  According to a recent list put out by The Nation’s Restaurant News, small plates will be even bigger in 2011, placing at number 13 on their top 20 list of food trends in the coming year.

So why do we have this sudden obsession with the little things in our food life?  One of the answers could lie in our internet habits.  A study of internet use in Korean teenagers may have proved that the web isn’t the gateway to obesity as many believe.  They studied teens with light, moderate and heavy internet “addiction” and found that those falling under the heavy addiction actually tended to eat smaller meals on average.  One answer as to why this happened comes from a Salon.com article by Sara Breselor.  Breselor advises to “Considerate it (smaller portions/plates) the dining equivalent of updating your Facebook status…”   If you look at it this way, it’s only logical that with the growing popularity of social media sites like Twitter and Facebook that seeing smaller portions has also increased.

A second thought on the attractiveness of this new petite movement may be due to the economy.  After all, isn’t it common to downsize when in a financial downturn?  The average chain restaurant, like the Cheesecake Factory and California Pizza Kitchen, have recently turned to this thrifty option as a way to cut costs, but not sacrifice taste and options.  Using undersized portions allows for customers, as well as the kitchen, to test out new combinations without breaking anyone’s bank.  This alternative also tends to help add more items to the check and has increased wine-by-the-glass purchases, according to an article from Nestle Professional.

A final, and seemingly obvious, reason for the trend is it’s “health” benefits.  Like most fads in the cuisine arena, small plates have been thought to be able to lend a hand in weight loss.  In terms of portion, according to a study done by Calgary University in Canada, how much a person eats is directly related to the kind of plate they use.  This means, the smaller the plate, the smaller the portion, the smaller the portion, the less you eat, the less you eat, the less weight you gain.  However, not only does the portion size make small plates an appealing choice but the common options add to the “diet” appeal.  Most of these snack-sized alternatives are guided by the traditional Spanish tapas which focus on proteins and vegetables.  As anyone who’s followed a low-carb diet knows, these items are a diet’s best friend because they tend to provide nutrients and flavor without the starchy, fatty side effects.

If you’re looking for great places to try this new trend:
In Indianapolis, check out:  Mesh, Zing, Iozzo’s Garden of Italy and
Zest! Exciting Food Creations

Nationwide, check out:  Barcelona Tapas, Cheesecake Factory,
Houlihan’s and California Pizza Kitchen