March 2019 | Food Newsfeed
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March 2019

Five Questions with Chef Mark McDonald

Mark McDonald is a familiar face in Orange County, California. The chef and owner at the helm of the award-winning Old Vine Café in Costa Mesa, has expanded and renamed the business after 11 years to open Old Vine Kitchen & Bar.

Bloomin's Fast Casual Concept, Aussie Grill, to Open in Tampa

Aussie Grill, a fast-casual concept from Bloomin’ Brands, operator of Outback Steakhouse, Carrabba’s, Bonefish, and Fleming's, is expected to open in April. The counter-service version of its iconic steakhouse chain will be located in Tampa.

James Beard Foundation Unveils 2019 Finalists

The James Beard Foundation unveiled its finalists for the 2019 awards Wednesday during a press conference and breakfast at Hugo’s by Hugo Ortega in Houston. They were picked across nearly 60 categories.

True Food Kitchen's First CMO Plots a Digital Future

For Shannon Keller, digital is the future of marketing. True Food Kitchen’s newly appointed chief marketing officer, its first in company history, has her sights set on capturing a changing audience and connecting with them beyond the four walls of the restaurant.

Bar Professionals Say Bring on the Banana

The beverage world will see a reemergence in banana flavors, predicts Eric Nakata, vice president of beverage innovation S&D Coffee & Tea. This renewed enthusiasm for banana may be related to growing interest in Latin American cuisine, which uses the banana-like plantain as a staple, or the trend toward plant-based and natural ingredients for elements like non-dairy milk alternatives (up 61 percent over the past 5 years, according to The Next Idea 2019 Restaurant and Food Forecast) that can be made from bananas.

Why AI Can Be a Traditional Restaurant’s Secret Sauce

As everyone in the restaurant business knows, the competition for guest dollars is intense. For traditional restaurants, the competitive landscape is complicated by the rise of on-demand formats like ghost restaurants, pop-up dining options and food trucks—a sector that is forecast to grow like wildfire over the next dozen years, from $35 billion to a whopping $365 billion.

What’s Up with Airport Units?

One hundred million. That’s how many passengers, on average, travel through Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport each year. Granted, it is the busiest airport in the world, but this figure provides just a small glimpse into the captive audience brands can reach by opening an airport outpost for their restaurants.

New Salary Requirements Ahead for Exempt Managers?

The Fair Labor Standards Act places important limits on how restaurant operators set the compensation of their store managers and assistants. Specifically, the FLSA requires non-exempt employees to be paid overtime for hours worked beyond 40 in a workweek.

What Millennials Want on the Wine List

The nation’s largest wine-consuming class is also among its youngest. According to Wines Vines Analytics, wine sales were near $46.5 billion in 2018, and millennials are drinking much of it. In fact, 40 percent more millennials than the overall adult population drink regularly throughout the year, according to stats on consumer wine consumption by the Wine Market Council released in 2016.

Olive Garden's Menu Strategy is Tough to Rival

To say Olive Garden has landed on an effective menu strategy wouldn’t do it justice. Let’s just take a two-quarter sample into consideration. Last quarter, the 860-unit chain saw comparable guest counts decline 0.

Comeback-Driven Red Robin Kicks Up Refranchising Efforts

Among the many tenets in Red Robin’s vast comeback plan, refranchising is one initiative expected to ramp up shortly. The burger brand is currently corporate heavy, with only 89 of its 573 units franchised, although this has been a push two years in the making.

How Italian Restaurants Can Accommodate Food Allergies

Once every three minutes, a food allergy sends someone to the emergency room, according to Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE). The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention reports that eight foods or food groups account for 90 percent of serious allergic reactions in the United States: milk, eggs, fish, crustacean shellfish, wheat, soy, peanuts, and tree nuts.

The Most Bizarre Marketing Strategies in Italian Food

Free weddings, baby gender–reveal lasagnas, and breadstick bouquets are all part of a growing trend in unusual restaurant marketing ideas. These promotions are great at grabbing consumer attention, but do they actually translate into better business?Last year, Villa Italian Kitchen introduced the world to pizza bouquets and boutonnieres.