December 2014

The Melting Pot Raises its Perception of Value

This is the age of the customer.“The consumer has more power today to give feedback in a number of ways, from social media, websites, and call centers to actually coming to a restaurant and having an experience,” says Lonnie Mayne, president of InMoment.

Secrets of Back Office Savings

While there are signs that the economy will keep improving in 2015, restaurant owners still face many of the same challenges they had during leaner times.Commodity prices consistently fluctuate and wholesale food prices remain elevated while menu prices rise much slower—the pressure on a restaurant’s bottom line never wavers.

Restaurants Break Free From the Chain Gang

There are a lot of things that get under the skin of Legal Sea Foods president and CEO Roger Berkowitz, but one thing that bothers him almost daily is when his restaurant is called a chain.“When you think of a chain, you don’t think of the best adjectives.

The Harmony Between Taste and Flavor

We use the words taste and flavor nearly interchangeably, but they really do have two different meanings. When we talk about taste, we’re talking about just the stuff that interacts with your tongue, the sweet, salty, bitter, sour, and umami taste buds.

Midwestern Makeover

As Chef David Falk likes to say, his goal for dining excellence is BPA. Translated for the masses, it simply means to “blow people away,” and that is the mission of the celebrated chef, founder, and CEO of Boca Restaurant Group.

Talking Menus Are Breaking Barriers

The idea for talking menus came from practical experience. In 2006, Susan Perry went to dinner at an Olive Garden with her niece who was suffering vision loss from juvenile macular degeneration. Perry had forgotten her reading glasses, and the two were stuck at a table with no way to read the menu.

The Art of Fine Dining

Cuisine may make the restaurant, but art certainly adds to the ambiance. Operators are commissioning artists, many local, to add a personal touch to their establishments.“The artists we feature live here in Columbia, so a lot of customers know them and recognize their work,” says Bobby Williams, chairman of the South Carolina-based Lizard’s Thicket, which displays local art at each of its 15 locations.

Promise Lands

Just as locally sourced foods entice diners, so do wines crafted from grapes with regional roots. While Napa Valley and Sonoma County are widely recognized as premier wine regions—and, in recent years, Oregon’s Willamette Valley and Washington’s Columbia Valley have gained prominence as well—restaurants are increasingly sourcing from regions that are less familiar to the masses.

Incentive to Open a New Concept in Evansville, Indiana

It’s a savory offer. City leaders in Evansville, Indiana, will award $250,000 to the restaurateur or developer with the best plan to open a new restaurant in their downtown.The initiative, called the Main Course Restaurant Challenge, is motivated by a desire “not to control the project but to eliminate some of the challenges in creating a new restaurant,” explains Joshua Armstrong, downtown alliance director for the Southwest Indiana Chamber of Commerce.

The Potent Flavors of Barrel-Aged Beer

Let’s cut straight to the chase: Pretty much any beer style you can think of has been aged in some sort of barrel by a craft brewery. Bourbon-barrel imperial stouts. Brandy-barrel barley wines. Rum-barrel pumpkin ales.

Sweet Memories Define Dessert Trends

Classic is back. When it comes to desserts, chefs are hearkening back to childhood memories, updating desserts of bygone days with modern twists. Forget extravagant, edgy desserts. Now that the spotlight is on nostalgia, from devil’s food cake to retro snoballs, the trend to traditional favorites has hit pastry kitchens nationwide.

Game On for Wellness

When Carolina Ale House assembled its philanthropic mission years ago, the goal of promoting active, healthy lifestyles was near the top of its list.“As we see it, health is wealth,” says Mindy Stroupe, corporate communications manager for the 25-unit Carolina Ale House enterprise.

Food Truck Gets its Ducks in a Row

Odd Duck’s roots trace back to its days as one of Austin’s most celebrated food trucks where sales were so robust that a brick-and-mortar reincarnation was sure to follow.“The food truck was awesome,” says Sam Hellman-Mass, a chef/partner at Odd Duck.

How Restaurants Can Turn Online Followers Into Sit-Down Diners

Often many restaurants question the true value and ROI of digital marketing efforts. While there are many reasons to develop and actively maintain your brand’s presence online, most restaurant marketers are primarily focused on getting followers to put down their laptops and pick up a fork.

The 2015 Buyer's Guide

For restaurateurs contemplating capital expenses or stocking the pantry, this curated collection features a variety of the best products for full-service restaurant operations.Taking into account reader nominations, product announcements, and industry headlines, FSR editors selected a broad spectrum of newly introduced or enhanced products.