50 Great Ideas

Restaurant Business Magazine's top 50 Great Ideas we've seen from the restaurant industry
50 Great Ideas - Restaurant Business Online

Published in Restaurant Business November 2014

Lots of creative thinking goes on in the restaurant industry, making it difficult to narrow down a collection of great ideas to just 50. We came across hundreds of good ones in the 16 months since our last roundup. Some were interesting but too familiar. Others were whimsical but did nothing to drive sales. What separates the “good” from the “great” here is an idea that differentiates a business and moves it forward. See if you agree with our picks.

All Ideas
Idea Location(s) Restaurant(s)
1. A smallwares sidewalk sale San Francisco Cotonga; Quince
2. Deliver a taste of catering Multiple locations Roti; Chick-fil-A
3. Butcher paper menus are on a roll N/A N/A
4. Chef for a night Multiple locations Benihana
5. Service in sign language Toronto Signs
6. Sandwiches by 'chute New York City and Melbourne, Australia Jafflechutes
7. Mulitple locations Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts
8. App claims to be "the easiest way to order pizza" N/A N/A
9. Turning parking lots into modern-day pit stops Multiple locations Carl's Jr.; Applebee's; Harris Ranch Inn and Restaurant
10. Simplification sells on the menu Multiple locations IHOP
11. Cootie-catcher kids' menu Clemmons, N.C. Brothers
12. Painting a theme with the menu San Francisco Trick Dog
13. Brown-bagging it Chicago Brown Bag Seafood
14. Ordering antipasti, sushi style Multiple locations Culinary Dropout
15. Flavor-morphing cocktails Portland, Ore. Red Star Tavern
16. Training sherry fans with food Washington, D.C. Mockingbird Hill
17. Aging spirits with sound New Orleans Root Squared
18. Happy hour for breakfast Seattle The 5 Point Cafe
19. Connecting with seniors via bridge Multiple locations Fazoli's
20. Invite fans to tip in beer Cleveland The Greenhouse Tavern
21. Team up to reward local pride Multiple locations Larkburger
22. Supporting the "troops" Multiple locations Twisted Root Burger Co.
23. Ridesharing to restaurants San Francisco; multiple locations Stones Throw; Starbucks
24. Upscale cheese on a stick Oak Park, Ill. Marion Street Cheese
25. No-break plates New Orleans Borgne
26. The next big barrel-aged thing: root beer? Chicago Eleven City Diner
27. Local sourcing beyond the farm Charleston, S.C. The Grocery
28. Single portions on ice Multiple locations Bonefish Grill
29. Giving charcuterie the tower treatment New York City Sohn
30. Upsell oysters of the feathered kind Chicago Acadia
31. Feeding food scraps to cows Kissimmee and Orlando, Fla. Darden Restaurants
32. Keeping cordless to preserve culture Multiple locations Five Guys Burgers and Fries
33. DIY cocktails, tableside Atlanta and Dallas Cook Hall (W Hotel)
34. NOLA gathers seashells for the seashore New Orleans Acme Oyster House
35. Asian buffet in a box Chicago Urbanbelly
36. Upside-down rugs nix the noise Chicago Kinmont
37. A menu for runners Multiple locations Zoes Kitchen
38. High end food truck hits the road Multiple locations Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts
39. Denny's remixes retro video games Multiple locations Denny's
40. Restaurant Week deals for restaurant workers Philadelphia The Industry
41. Students as fish farmers Huntington Beach, Calif. Slapfish
42. Chipotle's pillars of throughput Mulitple locations Chipotle
43. Sustainable BYOB art Chicago 42 Grams
44. Reward social-media shout-outs Multiple locations Firehouse Subs
45. An app that donates leftovers N/A N/A
46. Freebies by name only Chicago Chuck’s: A Kerry Simon Kitchen
47. Pasta by the gram Chicago Spiaggia
48. Flexible kids' portions Multiple locations Applebee's; Friendly's
49. Freshii's health-minded incubator program Multiple locations Freshii
50. Easy-to-maintain cold soup Charleston, S.C. Two Boroughs Larder