In a Beer Institute press release, data had shown there was $23.6 billion in beer sales for 2011, a jump of nine percent. Restaurants are responsible for 24 percent of those sales and Beer Institute President Joe McClain said restaurants have a large impact on introducing great brands of beer to customers. One of the most important aspects to serving any drink is choosing the perfect glass. There are five different beer glass categories to choose from. Choosing the right glass will make your customers happy and can bring some extra money into your business.
As Easter falls upon us this weekend, many people will gather together with their families to celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ over 2,000 years ago. Most of these familial celebrations include some type of meal and perhaps even an Easter egg hunt for the little ones, filled with candy, little knick-knacks, and, if the kids are really lucky, money. Most likely, that meal will include some form of ham. But have you ever wondered why?
Back in the days when people relied on animals for food, they usually had one cow, which they relied on for milk, not meat. Spring was the season in which baby animals were born, so although there may have been new baby chicks and piglets, they weren’t an option for an Easter meal. Nor was spring the time to hunt, because the animals weren’t fat enough to deliver enough meat. If the owners were sheep herders, they may have been lucky enough to have a piece of lamb to eat for Easter, but not many Americans were sheep herders. The only remaining piece of meat to eat was the big preserved ham that was held back from butchering in the fall specifically for Easter.
Prices Spikes Might Change Many Minds This Year When Deciding On Buying Hams
Although ham is the most popular dish of choice for Easter brunch, many might be changing their minds this year, as ham prices have spiked due to the increase in pig feed over the past two years. According to the BostonHerald.com, Ham has been selling wholesale for 75 to 80 cents per pound this spring, which is in line with last year’s prices but well above the 55 cents per pound average for the previous five years.
Some people went as far as buying their ham over the Christmas holiday when sales were going on, in order to be able to afford feeding their families the “wanted” meat on Easter. But places like food pantries that aim to feed hundreds, if not thousands, on Easter Sunday, may not be so lucky. As prices have been increasing, it seems the only way that food pantries and kitchens can afford to serve hundreds of hams is through the giving of generous donors. Unfortunately, donations have been down in the past couple of years, according to the BostonHerald.com, and, most of the donations given to food pantries seem to be food staples, such as pasta, soup, and bread. So, if you’re celebrating with your family this year with a glazed ham, think of those in need that are missing out. Then contact your local food bank or food rescue—such as Second Helpings, located in Indianapolis, IN—and donate a small (or large!) monetary gift or ham to them. There will be many mouths that will thank you.
How the Cupcake Craze Began
It all started on the popular TV show, Sex and the City, when Carrie bit into a decadent cupcake made by the small New York-based shop, Magnolia Bakery. Soon the bakery was making cameos on movies and TV shows as well, such as The Devil Wears Prada, Prime, and Spin City. The small shop that started out with only three employees in 1996 baking four types of bread quickly figured out that bread-baking proved to be too time-consuming, so it quickly switched over to making desserts and focusing on cupcakes. Magnolia Bakery quickly grew to having several shops around the city and even introduced its brand in Dubai in 2010. It’s now raking in an average of $20 million dollars per year. And to think, it all started with three employees and some cupcakes. The Cupcake: Here to Stay?
While many critics dismissed the cupcake craze as a fad that will quickly pass, it has proved to be a food trend that has staying power. As the economy weakened and many people lost their jobs, cupcake sales shot up as a surge of local cupcake-only bakeries popped up around the nation. According to market research firm, NPD, 669.4 million cupcakes were sold between October 2010 and 2011. With little money left to spend on the big-ticket items, cupcakes became an indulgence that was affordable. While these gourmet cupcakes aren’t going to cost you $1.00-2.00 like the cupcakes you’ll find at your local grocery, it seems consumers are eager to spend a little extra on such a small luxury. The Washington Post reported on the cupcake bakery trend, quoting Paul Sapienza, vice president for the Retail Bakers of America, who declared of cupcakes, “They are cute. They are an economic treat, which helps out in the recession. They are a little decadent, so you get cake, frosting and sometimes filling all at the same time.” Yet, in their report, The Washington Post declared that the trend would fade. They were wrong. According to an article in About.com, Packaged Facts Fresh Baked Goods in the U.S “…projects that the market will grow by 26% between 2009 and 2014, to reach $20.1 billion at retail.”
Gourmet cupcake shops have become so trendy that L.A.-based bakery, Sprinkles, is now establishing a 24-hour cupcake-dispensing ATM in New York City for patrons that need to grub on their goodness during the late-night hours. Now that’s customer service!
Brides Choosing To Serve Cupcakes Instead of Tiered Cakes At Wedding Receptions
The decadent, yet economic, dessert is even affecting the wedding industry; many brides are choosing cupcakes to serve to guests over the traditional tiered wedding cake, which has, in the past, proven to be an expensive part of the wedding reception. The cupcake is not only economical, but also comes in a variety of flavors. Is the bride a coffee lover? She can choose a coffee-flavored cupcake with chocolate frosting. Is the wedding in November, close to Thanksgiving? The cupcakes can be pumpkin-pie flavored. Does anyone in the wedding party need gluten or dairy-free cupcakes? Those are also an option. The varieties of flavor and levels of creativity are endless, without the price tag of a traditional tiered wedding cake. The impact of serving cupcakes at weddings has even affected Hollywood—in 2010, country star Carrie Underwood served cupcakes during her reception when she married hockey pro, Mike Fisher. While most brides are choosing cupcakes over tiered cake for economic reasons, celebrities are choosing them more for the “coolness” factor. The Recession and Cupcake Sales Go Hand-In-Hand
Although the economy has tanked in the last five years, with many Americans without jobs, struggling to pay mortgages or car payments, it seems the cupcake is a diamond in the rough. Even though each small cake sells for $4.00-6.00 a piece at a gourmet “cupcakery”, it seems a small price to pay for such gooey goodness that can help us escape for a short, but sweet while.
Colorful beads, beer cans, margarita cups and random trash are the only reminders of Mardi Gras, or “Carnival,” the celebration that takes place in New Orleans before Lent, which is, according to Wikipedia, “…the Christian observance of the liturgical year from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday.” Many believers, especially Catholics, take this time to give up something during that 40-day period; something that would be a sacrifice, as a symbol of Christ’s sacrifice when dying on the cross on Good Friday. But the biggest tradition among believers is not eating meat on Ash Wednesday or on Fridays, instead choosing to eat a close alternative–fish or seafood.
When the custom started to abstain from meat back during the early years of Christianity in Europe, it was never a rule that you could NOT eat fish, just that you could not eat meat. So since people tend to bend the rules as much as possible without technically breaking them, it was decided that eating fish on Fridays would be the exception. Hence, the explosion of churches (especially located in the Midwest, due to the high population of German Catholics) conducting weekly Friday night Fish Frys, where attendees began coming in droves to indulge on fried fish and other meatless options, enjoying the company and conversation of other believers.
The Impact of Lent on Restaurants and How They Have Responded
Restaurants across the nation recognized this sales opportunity for the millions of Christians observing the practice and finally began incorporating different seafood options into their menus. Fast-food restaurants have jumped on the bandwagon, too. McDonald’s has the Filet-o-Fish on the menu year-round, while others, such as Wendy’s, KFC, and Jack-in-the-Box, introduced seafood options available only during the Lent season. Even Panda Express, normally known for its Asian influence, debuted a new item called Peppercorn Shrimp, using yellow onions, red peppers, and stir-frying the dish in a sauce with Thai peppercorns.
Not all restaurants are incorporating seafood though; places such as Five Guys Pizza are placing the focus on meatless and/or vegetarian options. While Five Guys Pizza offers a grilled cheese sandwich year-round, its popularity is sporadic in comparison to its pizza; yet, during Lent season, its sales increase.
Most restaurants, both nationwide and local eateries, have either highlighted or introduced seafood or meatless options to cater to those customers celebrating the season, there are still those places that refuse to cash in on the sales opportunity.
Laura McGuire, of Chicago-based food industry consultancy, Technomic, says it’s imperative for restaurants to acknowledge their customer’s dietary restrictions during Lent.
“Alienating those who observe Lent on your menu could result in slower sales during this period,” she says, “as well as ultimately create customer dissatisfaction in the long term.”
Adding seafood, meatless or vegetarian options on a seasonal basis can attract new customers as well, according to McGuire. Plus, if the new item doesn’t test well with new and/or existing customers, it can be deleted from the menu for good. If your restaurant is hesitant to join the seafood/meatless craze during Lent season, just look at it as a test run. There’s always time to go back to the drawing board!