A teenage prodigy, 17 young adults roaring into restaurant careers while still in their 20s, and a collection of prime-time pros who have hit their stride and are rising fast, well before they crest the 40-year mark—these are the stars we hail as ones to watch in 2017.
Whether you find these innovations inspirational or aspirational, they represent ideas and practices on the rise. Some are already moving into mainstream settings—applicable for operators with one location or hundreds, in casual to fine dining.
96. Power of suggestion: Avoid calling dishes healthy or nutritious. Instead, descriptions like veggie-forward, fresh, or flavorful will entice more orders.97. Incorporate new grains into known comfort foods for easier acceptance and adoption by diners.
87. Avocado: It’s become the little black dress of the restaurant scene.88. Olives—with their blend of sweet, sour, salty, and acidic tastes—amplify the flavors of other ingredients.89. Fruit, like watermelon, is the ideal ingredient to accessorize dishes to be both savory and sweet.
There's no question ethnic cuisine is a hit with consumers. Moving forward, it will pay big dividends to stay ahead of the latest trends and offer cuisine that's both exploratory and satisfying.77. African78.
68. Find flavorful (and profitable) beauty in ugly foods—like those aquatic bottom feeders or bruised produce.69. Institute a 20 percent service charge to cover a no-tipping policy and increased minimum wage.
47. Work with farms that have minimized food waste at the point of harvest, like incorporating stems into produce mixes, or have optimized the use of natural resources, like growing second-crop kale, which requires 50 percent less water.
36. Mead: Served solo or as a beer topper, this Old World staple is a new-day charmer.37. Amaro, which is Italian for bitter, is having sweet success on restaurant menus—and not just in the after-dinner category.
29. Restaurants that cater or that offer home-baked goods can find value in operating their kitchens virtually 24-7.30. Pop-up restaurants enable chefs to test new concepts and new markets before committing to brick-and-mortar expansion.
17. Open inside hotels, but bring an energized business model that connects multiple dining concepts and serves all dayparts.18. Want to make your restaurant the No. 1 choice for private dinners and special events? Start with an events-management tool that will empower management to easily and effectively manage all of the details.
6. Aloha! Hawaiian cuisine gains traction in restaurants across the U.S.7. Protein overload: From steakhouses to burger bars, entrées are stacking up with multiple meats per serving.8. Thinking of citrus? use it to replace oils, sugar, and syrupy marinades to add moisture and a caramelized finish to roasted veggies and grilled meats.
1. Chops may rule in upscale settings, but lamb burgers have gained dominance on menus every year for the last decade, up 17 percent in 2016.2. Hybrid concepts expand the revenue stream for full-service restaurants by bringing the same caliber of chef-driven cuisine to a breakfast bakery menu or counter-service lunch.
The 2016 FSR Top 100 Indies highlights leading independent operators in state capitals throughout the U.S. The chart below includes data on each restaurant’s annual sales, the year it opened, and its average dinner check per diner.
Operators across all dining segments will find something of interest among the many products featured in our 2017 Buyer’s Guide. From fresh harvests courtesy of multigenerational farmers to technologies that drive efficiencies to biographical cookbooks from famed chefs (and even a novelist turned vegetarian), the items included speak to improved operations for full-service restaurants.
The shortage of skilled kitchen labor: That's what everyone keeps talking about, and it isn't going to change any time soon. The National Restaurant Association predicts 1.7 million new restaurant jobs will be created in the decade leading up to 2026.