Tag Archives: mobile apps

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?

10 Foodservice Trends for 2011

Within days we will say goodbye to another year and will welcome a new one. In 2010, there were many new foodservice trends; Gourmet-on-the-Go, “Fine Fast” Sandwich Shops, Boutique Booze and Eggs All Day are just a few of the trends mentioned in a Convenience Store News article. While many of the trends that began this year will continue on, many new ones are on the rise.  Here is a look at what some sources are reporting for the New Year.

1.      Food Trucks

In a Foodservice Equipment and Supplies (FES) article on upcoming trends, they bring up the food truck. We’ve seen and/or heard about them and they have even made headlines in Chicago for banning them. More food trucks may begin to appear in 2011—and what makes them different than in the past according to the article is the fact they are being used as “brand extensions and catering aids.”

2.      New Cuts of Meat

“Newly fabricated cuts of meat” is an upcoming trend described by Missy Frederick of the Washing Business Journal. She asks, “Have you heard of a Denver steak? The pork flat iron, the Petite Tender?” These are what chefs are saying will be a hot trend for the upcoming year. While these will become more popular, it will be interesting to see if there is any downfall when new guidelines go into effect Jan. 1, 2012, making it mandatory for there to be labels on raw meat and poultry.

3.      Hyper-Local

Buying from local business has been increasing in popularity over the past few years. Some restaurants are taking local to an even further level—they are growing their own products and doing their own butchering. In another article by Frederick, she discusses this trend and says places like Restaurant Eve and Bourbon Steak are already being hyper-local and more restaurants may move this way in the New Year.

4.      Social Media

Social media has been on the rise for quite some time and its popularity is as high as it’s ever been—especially for businesses and restaurants.  In the Harvard Business Review, they say 2011 “will be the year these companies take a look at integrating social media, not only regionally, but globally.” Many different news sources are pointing out the importance of social media, and we might see it being such an important marketing tool for 2011 that some of those who aren’t using it might be missing out.

5.      Sophisticated K-12 Cafeterias

This is what is titled in FES’s “Top Design Trends for 2011.” Currently, many college campus cafeterias have the open food court with several different food concepts and registers scattered throughout. According to this article, grade, middle and high school cafeterias might move in this direction.  This could possibly work hand in hand with the fight against childhood obesity as more concepts would provide children with more variety in healthier choices.

6.      Better Nutrition

We have reported on health and nutrition in our blog and it’s been heavily covered in news articles all around the country.  Many different news sites are discussing 2011 being a year of healthier food trends—not only for schools but also restaurants and fast food chains.

7.      Alcoholic Beverages

A recent Nation’s Restaurant News article says alcoholic beverage sales will increase next year.  This ranges from people entertaining guests at home and also in restaurants. FES mentions this in an article and says “’Mad-Men’ style retro cocktails, high-cachet gin and bourbon, craft beers and punch (including sangria)” will be on the rise.

8.      Mom and Pop Shops

While these could have some competition with those food trucks we just mentioned, Restaurant Hospitality says we will see more “mom and pop” shops popping up. They describe these as “self-financed and self-built restaurants” that usually have 40 or less seating arrangements. They say if someone is pondering the idea to open up a shop like this, now is the time to do it.

9.      Online and Mobile Ordering and Applications

If you can order a pizza through a text on your phone, just imagine what will be available in years to come. Not too long ago, we reported on digital menus! So there is a growing trend of technology in the industry.  Technology gives customers more control—and they like that feeling. But it’s not just online/mobile ordering that will be on the rise, it will be a variety of applications.  For instance, on the Sacramento Bee’s hot food trends for 2011, they’ve put down the “iPad wine lists.”  They say the New York Times found Bone’s wine sales increased 11 percent just two weeks after they rolled out their wine list on the iPad. It looks as though the mobile trend will continue to grow and make things quicker and more convenient for customers.

10.  Korean Food

Mexican and Chinese are two of the many types of popular ethnic cuisine in America and many top trend lists are pointing that Korean food will join in for 2011. This will range from food trucks, street food and restaurants.

There are many lists for 2011 trends for the foodservice industry. It will be interesting to see which trends make it and which ones don’t. We’ll follow up on these to see what rises in popularity.

Everyone at Central wishes you and yours a very safe and happy 2011.

Latest Technology for Restaurants

Technology is constantly evolving and there is always something new. Here is some of the latest technology available that all kinds of foodservice establishments can take advantage of.

Mobile Apps

A majority of people have a smartphone (iPhone, Android, Blackberry, etc.) and with the popularity of these phones, there is practically a mobile app for everything.  A recent article by Nation’s Restaurant News said several restaurant chains such as Pizza Hut, Starbucks and Culver’s have apps for smartphones and many other chains have a mobile app in the works.  Mobile apps help customers spend money and also provide a convenient way to obtain information. Snapfinger is one of the places to sign up for an app for your restaurant.

Social Media

The number of Facebook users varies per source, but at least 500 million people use it. Social media is much more than posting what is going on that day.  Sites like Facebook and Twitter are a very powerful tools to increase sales.

Using Facebook’s “like” button has proved to have increased sales for many restaurants and others use their Facebook page for online ordering. Twitter provides real-time posts and while you are limited to 140 characters, they can be a very powerful 140 characters. By using either or both of these sites, you can promote your business and connect with customers.

A recent article from FT.com has this quote from Facebook Creator, Mark Zuckerberg, that expresses the importance of social media: “If you look five years out, every industry is going to be rethought in a social way. You can remake whole industries. That’s the big thing.”

QR Codes

This QR code was generated in 10 seconds and leads to the Central website

QR Codes are everywhere. But what are these odd barcode like boxes? Convenient! With a click of a button, information goes straight to a phone.

The Qurify website defines QR codes as “two dimensional barcodes that are easily scanned using any modern mobile device. This code will then be converted (called “dequirified”) into a piece of (interactive) text and/or link.”

To break this definition down, anyone with a modern phone simply needs a QR code reader app for their phone, such as the Kaywa Reader. Then, whenever a person sees a QR code, they take a picture of it and it takes them straight to a link. This makes things incredibly simple. So you’re wondering how to make your own QR code? It’s just as simple as retrieving one. There are a variety of QR code generators out there. Putting in “QR code generator” in a Google search will provide you with many sites, qrcode.kaywa.com being one of the main ones. Use a QR code to link customers to an important part of your establishment, such as a information about a particular product or a promotion.

Electronic Menus

Technology + Menus = Electronic Menus. While this technology is still in its early stages, it’s a neat feature to keep in mind for the future. A restaurant in Tokyo is using the Graffiti Bar. An article by The Independent (United Kingdom) says this interactive menu bar allows guests to look through menus, interact with waiters, play games and create graffiti. Another article from Digital Signage Today revealed KFC in the U.K. is testing out electronic menus.