Conversations About Healthy Menus

If you want to please diners looking for healthful choices, offer a changing array of seasonal fruits and vegetables.

Snapshot: Going underground

Certain chefs are setting up supper clubs of sorts, serving elaborate meals to a select group who appreciates community and fine cuisine. Word-of-mouth advertising and the mode of entry—the “club’s” email list—add to the exclusivity.

Let’s take a look at what’s coming down the pike and promises to alter the landscape of the industry—for better and worse.

More and more Americans are patronizing restaurants differently these days, opting to make a meal of shareable appetizers, small plates, inventive bar food or coffee and a snack. According to Chicago-based market research company Technomic, only 5 percent of consumers are now eating three square meals a day.

New Yorkers still fill restaurants, but they are spending less and choosing cheaper places to dine, according to the 2012 Zagat Restaurant Survey. The survey, which polled 44,306 New Yorkers, found that new restaurant openings are catering to shrinking wallets in the Big Apple.

Choosing small plates offers diners the opportunity to try a variety of menu items and flavors—which, according to a recent report by Technomic, is what 70% of consumers are looking for in shareable dining.

Portability and speed feed the morning customer, boosting the popularity of grab-and-go items.

It just may be the most under-exploited category on morning menus.

Growing consumer obsession with dieting has many menu planners counting calories in their sleep.

A recent Restaurant Business survey of 140 casual, quick-service and fine-dining operators revealed that 72 percent use the Web for business purposes, ranging from taking online reservations and food orders to soliciting comments from their customers.

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