Tag Archives: mobile food

Foodservice Industry Week in Brief: 1/27

Looking for some of the week’s top information? Here are five stories from the foodservice industry for Jan. 23-27.

Progress with School Nutrition
From USDA, Read Blog

Image: jdurham/MorgueFile

There’s been much buzz over school nutrition over the past few years, especially though the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010.  This week more progress was made when the USDA announced the new standards for school nutrition.  Some of the changes include more fruits and vegetables, only only offering fat-free or low-fat milk and basing calorie counts on a child’s age  so they get the accurate portion size.  For the full report, read the USDA’s blog.

Restaurants Adding To Menus

This week seems to have had quite a bit of news with restaurants adding to their menus.  Here are few of the places mentioned:

  • Starbucks: Beer, wine and additional food items (i.e. hot flatbread)
  • Taco Bell: Breakfast with items such as egg or sausage burritos, hash browns, Cinnabon and coffee
  • McDonalds: Chicken McBites

Vancouver Restaurant Sells One Expensive Hot Dog
From The Canadian Press, Read Article

Image: alvimann/MorgueFile

Depending where your restaurant is, what the occasion is etc., a typical price for the standard hot dog can be anywhere from $1 to $3. Sometimes you might hit an event where it’s more expensive. However one Vancouver restaurant has developed a hot dog that really has stepped it up–in both toppings and price.  According to a HuffPost Food article from The Canadian Press, DougieDog Hot Dogs has created “The Dragon Dog” which consists of items on the hot dog such as cognac, Kobe beef and lobster. All at a pretty penny, of course… it’s only $100. There’s much more to this hot dog, visit Huff Post Food to read all about it.

Restaurant Super Bowl Deals Out
From Nation’s Restaurant News, Read Article

Image: kahanaboy/MorgueFile

There are certain events the restaurant industry can benefit from and the Super Bowl is definitely one of them.  According to the National Restaurant Association, approximately 48 million Americans will order takeout or delivery while watching the big game and 12 million will go out to a restaurant. NRN went into some detail looking into some of the special deals going on.  Be sure to let us know what your restaurant is doing below!  Read more on the NRN website.

Indianapolis Foodservice Impacted by the Super Bowl
From Central Restaurant Products, Read Blog

Image: Indianapolis Super Bowl Press Center

For most cities across the U.S., Super Bowl Sunday is a big day.  But for Indianapolis, they’re actually getting 10 big days!  This year Central’s hometown of Indianapolis is hosting Super Bowl 46.

There’s a lot that takes place in a city when a Super Bowl is coming to down and it dramatically affects all businesses–foodservice industry especially.  Central talked to different restaurants, food trucks and other organizations to get the scoop and a behind the scenes look on what it takes to prepare for the big game (and all that comes with it).

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.

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?