Tag Archives: food trucks

Super Bowl Foodservice Series Part 1: Restaurants Gearing Up for Event

On Sunday Feb. 5, the New England Patriots and the New York Giants will meet again for Super Bowl XLVI.

Not only is the Super Bowl one of the biggest games of the year, but it’s also such a grand event for the hosting city.  This year, the game will be played in the same city as Central’s headquarters—Indianapolis.

The city is truly pulling out all the stops for the 10 day extravaganza that leads up to the actual game.  There are several events such as the NFL Experience and the Super Bowl Village which includes warming zones, an 800-foot-long, four line Zipline, exclusive opportunities and tons of free entertainment.

For all events to go smoothly, all businesses in a hosting city have to be involved and prepare.  This ranges from hotels and businesses to restaurants and food trucks.  The foodservice industry as a whole will play a huge role in the Super Bowl festivities.

Rendering of Super Bowl Village

Julia Watson, vice president of marketing and communications for Indianapolis Downtown, Inc., said businesses have had to forecast as much as six months of business in the 10 day period.

“You can’t do business as usual with a lean staff, or haven’t changed the delivery schedule to make sure to have supplies on hand,” she explained.

“Restaurants have gone to great effort and expense to maximize their ability to serve a very large number of visitors in a short amount of time.”

Watson said restaurants have stepped up in many ways such as an increased staff, streamlined food and beverage menus, extended hours of operation, additional seating and enhanced amenities such as outdoor heaters, etc.

There are an estimated 150,000 coming to Indianapolis.  While this is an excellent and unique business opportunity, it can be a challenge to plan how it will all work when taking into consideration the number of seats available versus how many will be coming in.

In a recent article from the Indianapolis Star, they estimated there are about 25,000 seats in the city’s approximate 200 restaurants.  Then on top of that, many streets have been closed so restaurants have had to strategically plan how they will receive deliveries from vendors and how their employees will make it in to work.

“Deliveries will be a challenge,” said Bryn Jones, director of marketing at St. Elmo Steak House. “Our plan here is to have all deliveries made in the early A.M. every day, and we will have employees working 24/7 so that we will be able to receive inventory when it is more convenient for delivery drivers to get in and out of the city due to the huge increase in traffic during the day.”

Then for their employee’s commute, Jones said they will have two buses circling a route to help employees get to and from the restaurant.

“This will be necessary to help us and our employees save money by not having to pay $50 or whatever amount is charged per day in parking.”

Going back to the mathematics of the “seat to tourist ratio,” the city has plans that will help both restaurants and visitors to make it all work.

Volunteers at Volunteer Kick-Off

Communications Director Jennifer Hansen of Indianapolis Downtown, Inc. said there will be “mobile concierge” on the streets walking around to assist visitors.

“They will have live updates on restaurant availability to tell guests what’s opening,” she said.

But restaurants will not be the only way visitors can get something to eat.

Hansen also mentioned the Super Bowl Village will have mobile food sites too.

Mobile food, which is a trend that has truly boomed over the past year—especially in Indianapolis, will play an important role in this year’s Super Bowl events.

Click here for the second part of our Super Bowl series to learn how Indianapolis food trucks will participate as well as food rescuing and how restaurants outside of the downtown area have been impacted.

All images used with permission from the Indianapolis Super Bowl Press Center.

Foodservice Industry Week in Brief: January 13

Looking for some of the week’s top information? Here are five stories from the foodservice industry for the first week of the new year, January 9 through January 13.

Image: Drummerboy/MorgueFile

Twinkies Bankrupt?
From Los Angeles Times, Read Article

One of the most popular topics discussed, posted and tweeted about this week has been the fate of the Twinkie. Maker of the Twinkie and other treats such as Donettes, Ding Dongs, Mini Muffins and Zingers, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.  This isn’t the first time the brand has filed, according to the LA Times, they had filed back in 2009.  Read more on the LA Times website.

President Bill Clinton Announced Keynote Speaker for NRA Show
From National Restaurant Association, Read Article

This week the National Restaurant Association announced President Bill Clinton will be the keynote speaker of this year’s National Restaurant Association, Hotel-Motel show.  The show will be held in Chicago at McCormick Place on May 5-8, with President Clinton speaking on May 6.  NRA said he will “share insights into his presidency and his current work with the William J. Clinton Foundation.”  Read the full article here.

Image: sideshowmom/MorgueFile

Braille on…Burgers?
From HuffPost Food, Read Article

Every once in awhile a restaurant will put together something very interesting that’s also helpful for their customers.  HuffPost recently reported on Wimpy, a South African fast food chain, is putting messages in Braille on their buns!  They listed an example being “100% Pure Beef Burger Made For You.”  Read more on the HuffPost website.

Indianapolis Food Trucks Gearing Up for Super Bowl
From Mobile Cuisine, Read Article

Indianapolis has been busy preparing for the Super Bowl–especially foodservice establishments.  One of the pieces of the giant Super Bowl puzzle is food trucks.  With many coming into the city and walking around, food trucks will play a very important role. Recently, it’s been announced there have been trucks chosen to park around Indianapolis’ Monument Circle while Super Bowl events are going on.  Mobile Cuisine recently posted an article with a few quotes from participating food trucks, read more on the Mobile Cuisine website.

Central’s Latest Master Catalog to Drop Tuesday Jan. 17
From the Central Blog, Read Blog

On Tuesday Jan. 17, our latest catalog will be hitting the streets.  Our catalog is 384 pages and we’ve added in over 900 new products.  For this catalog, we teamed up with Vulcan, one of the world’s largest commercial cooking equipment manufacturers, for an exclusive promotion: the lowest price on products as well as free shipping.  Read more on the Central blog.



Foodservice Industry Week in Brief: December 9, 2011

Looking for some of the week’s top information? Here are five stories from the foodservice industry for the week of December 5 through December 9. 

Image by Crass on MorgueFile.com

Customers Want More Mobile for the Holidays
From MediaPost.com, Read Full Story

In an article from MediaPost.com, they looked into a study that discovered many restaurants are using mobile advertising.  These offers range from coupons to free items.  They also looked into specific times for messages and advertisements to be sent that would best accommodate and increase consumer response. Read the full article, which includes specifics, percentages and more, here.

Delicious Food from This Past Year
From The Daily Meal, Read Full Story

It’s hard to believe 2011 is coming to a close, but this year did bring in some interesting and delicious menu items.  The Daily Meal put together a slideshow of their favorite dishes from this past year. The list ranges from a hot dog from Shake Shack to tagliatelle al ragu from Al Di La. Be sure to read the full story and check out the slideshow, which includes information about each dish from Daily Meal writers, as well as what items they are looking forward to in 2012.

Cheese Recall
From Fair Oaks Dairy Products, LLC, Read Full Press Release

This week, Fair Oaks Dairy Products of Fair Oaks, Ind., announced a voluntary recall on some of their cheese products due to a possible risk of Listeria Monocytogenes contamination. According to their press release, the recall consisted of certain “one half pound retail packaged cheeses and cheese gift boxes.” Fair Oaks said it was produced under the label “Fair Oaks Farms Fine Cheese.”  It would have been sold between September 30 through Dec. 3, 2011.  For more details including contact information, read the full press release.

Successful Food Truck Owners
From Richard Myrick of Mobile-Cuisine, Read Full Story

In this week’s blog, “Food Trucks: Surviving the Winter,” we learned how successful food trucks have been in 2011 and how some will survive the upcoming harsh winter weather that will affect certain regions of the country.  Much of our information came from Mobile Cuisine Editor-in-Chief Richard Myrick, who on their website recently delved into six traits of successful food truck owners.  So while the middle of winter may not be the best time to start up a food truck, it’s definitely a great time to start gathering the details to be up and running by spring.  Read all of Myrick’s traits for having a successful food truck on their website.

Coca-Cola Ends Holiday Season Can
From Huffington Post, Read Full Story

Have you sold one of Coca-Cola’s latest holiday-themed cans at your establishment, then had your customer tell you they wanted a regular Coke? Confusing, isn’t it.  Well it’s all in the branding.  The latest holiday can is white with red writing and features polar bears in support of the Arctic polar bear habitat.  However, the holiday Coke can closely resembles the Diet Coke can, which has a light silver background with red writing.  So because of the confusion, Coca-Cola will be switching the cans to be closer to their original colors. For all of the information, read the full Huffington Post story.


Food Trucks: Surviving the Winter

Photo by Phaedra Wilkinson from MorgueFile.com

Food trucks aren’t new to the food scene by any means, but it really seems as though 2011 has been their year and will only continue to get better.

With innovative and groundbreaking marketing techniques, they have really made their place in the foodservice industry.   This has been done with instantaneous social media marketing, unique branding, eye-catching graphic designs and creative menu selections—so the groundwork for a successful 2012 has been laid down.

However, as winter has arrived, many states around the country will be hit with snow, ice and cold temperatures.  So after much success, winter weather can be worrisome for truck owners.

To Close, Or Not To Close, That Is the Question

Editor-in-Chief of Mobile Cuisine Magazine, Richard Myrick, said the reason a food truck will decide to stay open or not is based on what part of the country they are in.

“Looking South and West, most of the food trucks will thrive due to lower temps and more people walking around instead of spending time at the beach,” he said.  “In the north and Midwest, you’ll see a large number of trucks park for the winter.”

Again, certainly not all will park and shut down. In fact, there have been a few who will resort to other sources of income to carry them through.

Alternative Options to Continue Business

Photo from Scratch Truck, Indianapolis Food Truck

Fortunately for truck owners in an area with harsh winters, the fate of their business isn’t black and white.  There are more options than to just stay open or shut down.

“Some of the truck owners I have spoken with plan to work with friends who own restaurants so they can supplement their income while their trucks are off the streets,” Myrick said.

Concentrating on private indoor catering events or opening pop-up restaurants are other ways truck owners plan to supplement income.

Then, on another side of the spectrum, truck owners may head to a warmer area to maintain business.

“I have only heard of a few truck owners that plan to relocate to warmer temps, but this too is another route they can take if they don’t want to shutter their service due to the cold.”

Toughing It Out

Despite all of the alternative options, many food trucks will simply just tough out the winter weather.

Myrick said one of the biggest factors of how each truck owner will approach business is based on how they did the previous summer.

“For those who are counting on their truck for money during this winter, they will find a way to stay open,” he said, then noted some truck owners who thrived over the summer and were able to save may choose to park and re-open in the spring.

A few of the food trucks from Indianapolis Central follows on Twitter commented they will be staying open all winter long, including Scratchtruck—who said business has dropped some but they have to stay open.

“This is my job. As a start up, no other choice.”

If you’re a food truck owner, we’d love to hear what your plans are for the upcoming winter months. Feel free to comment below, write on our Facebook wall or tweet at us (@CRPRestaurant).

2011 Foodservice Trends and 2012 Predictions

Last December, we searched all over and compiled a list of 10 foodservice trends for 2011.  Overall, all 10 items on our list have been successful as far as the predictions go.  Take a look at the list for a quick refresher, then read below about some of the major trends that have now become mainstream.

Food Trucks

It’s been incredible to see how the food truck has evolved this year.  They’ve gone from something people were skeptical about to full-blown restaurants on wheels, serving everything from comfort foods and pizza to ethnic cuisine and desserts.

According to the Mashable infographic, “The Rise of the Social Food Truck,” almost 2.5 billion people eat street food.  Food trucks heavily rely on social media, which for most is their No. 1 way to advertise.  They just send out a tweet and Facebook status about where they will be and when.  This gives customers the convenience of different options close to them.

What is even more fascinating is how many food trucks team up together, park near each other or event go to events together.  Whether you love the food or own a truck , check out the Mobile Cuisine website for some great information on the industry.

Social Media/Mobile Ordering and Apps

While many restaurants have probably been using social media for quite some time, it seems as though this year its fully come mainstream.  In Nation Restaurant News’ webinar “The State of Social Media for Restaurants,” panelist Paul Barron (founder of DigitalCoCo) said in his presentation,

“87 percent of restaurant brands have identified social media as a main force for guest connection.”

After all, according to this New York Times article, social media is the most popular way Americans spend time online.

When looking into mobile ordering and apps, restaurants are implementing tablets (i.e. the iPad) in restaurants more and more to increase customer service and productivity (note—these aren’t replacing the wait staff).

At this year’s MUFSO conference (Multi-Unit Foodservice Operator), during New York Times’ Technology Columnist David Pogue’s session, he stressed the importance of restaurants not only using social media but to start looking into smart-phone apps too.  We’ve seen restaurants bring in the tablet, but having an app could be another solution to increasing productivity.  Pogue did take into consideration restaurant’s fears of using social media. His response was,

“But if you use it right, there are some incredible things you can do.”

Better Nutrition and Local/Hyper-Local

This year we’ve seen huge changes with restaurants becoming healthier.

Image from ChooseMyPlate.gov

Restaurants like McDonald’s and Arby’s have changed out fries with apple slices in their kid’s meals, Darden Restaurants recently announced their goal to lower sodium and calorie counts must be posted in certain areas–just to name a few.

The food pyramid got a fresh look this year too, as the USDA released “MyPlate” which replaced the food pyramid.

Schools are definitely headed in a healthier direction with updated nutritional standards.  The School Nutrition Association (SNA) gave the following statistics in this press release from their State of School Nutrition:

  • 98% of American school districts offer fresh fruit and vegetables
  • 97% have expanded the access of whole grains
  • 89% offer salad bars or pre-packaged salads
  • 98% have fat-free or 1% milk

Schools have also added many programs that work to bring in local foods.  When it comes to local in general, people and restaurants are pushing more support for local farmers.  Many restaurants are even taking local a step further and going hyper-local by growing their own food.

What’s In Store for 2012?

Image by Gregory Dicum on the NY Times website

While predictions for 2012 foodservice trends are just now beginning to surface, there are a few to start watching.  We may start to see more artisan and comfort foods on menus and maybe even celebrity food growers (which take it a step ahead of celebrity restaurants).

A trend that we’re already starting to notice is the “all-day” menu at restaurants that meet the demand for food at all hours of the day and night.  Also, pop-up restaurants may also be on the rise.  They are already starting to appear more and more, such as “Goodness,” a fashion week pop-up that provided healthy menu options.

We’ll continue to follow these and will provide our Top 10 Foodservice Trends for 2012 at the end of December. Let us know, what are you seeing? What’s been your favorite trend of 2011?

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.

The Latest News and Trends for College Foodservices

College foodservice is an ever-changing industry. Here are some of the latest trends and news about campus food across the country.

The Push for Healthy

Are the days of the traditional “all-you-can-eat” buffet on college campuses over? Well, students are always going to be hungry and have extra meal plan dollars to use,  so they’ll probably never be over.  However, according to the College and University Consumer Trend Report, mentioned in this Food Product Design article, only 28 percent of students are happy with the amount of “healthy” foods they are provided. There has been such a huge push for healthy grade and high schools, so why wouldn’t it trickle over to the college campus? Many college foodservices are going in a healthier direction too, one being Sodexo.  They are mixing it up with healthy and customized Mediterranean food—which seems to have resulted from their own student’s research.

Grab n’ Go

When a student is in a rush between classes, they don’t exactly have the time to sit down and have a meal in the cafeteria, especially if it’s during odd hours.  This is one of the moments where Grab n’ Go’s really get their time to shine, but students are always looking for something quick and different.  After all, one can only have a ham or turkey sandwich with chips everyday for so long before it gets old. Some campuses are mixing up their Grab n’ Go selection, such as Bennington College with menu items like the Chipotle Smoked Turkey and Bacon Wrap, Vegan Hummus Wrap, Protein Salads or Tangy Roast Beef Sandwiches.

Food Trucks

Without a doubt, it’s been the summer of the food truck. They are fast and convenient, making the college campus a perfect place for them.  What makes it even better is they are convenient for students as the truck goes to wherever they are. So you’re not losing the students who don’t feel like walking across campus to eat.  Catering to laziness? …no.  Not necessarily.  You could think of it as being more convenient for those pressed for time, or helping the students out.  (Sitting in an hour and 45 minutes of calculus can be really tiring).  Either way, it’s more money in your pocket.  This Napa Valley Register article talks about Napa Valley College—who due to budget cuts can no longer serve lunch out of its cafeteria and have rolled out a food truck pilot program. The article says, “about six food trucks will be available on campus from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Thursday. Fifteen food trucks are participating in the program, so the food options will vary each day.”

Social Media

Social media is a great way to inform customers in a quick and timely fashion, not to mention it’s mostly free too. With most students being glued to their phones 24/7, social media is probably one of their preferred methods of being contacted. (Do college students even check their email anymore? And are they going to know about your latest special if it’s only posted at the location…which they may or may not travel to?) Back in February, QSR wrote this article which covered a study saying 95 percent of university food operations use social media in some way. So, if you’re in that 5 percent, you may want to reconsider revamping your marketing campaign a bit. All the different types of social media sites out there can be a bit overwhelming, but that’s where websites like TweetDeck come into play, that can automatically post to several different sites at once.  You can even schedule posts ahead of time and could have a full day’s worth of posting ready to go in 10 minutes before the day really even gets started.  So no more excuses about not having time when a site like TweetDeck will do it for you…..for free.  The students will appreciate it.

What college foodservice trends are you finding?  What resources do you use that everyone should bookmark?