10 ways to keep food costs down this year

Economists tend to bicker, but there was at least one source of agreement in their 2013 forecasts: food prices are going to increase 2 to 4 percent this year. With restaurant patrons still pinching pennies, raising menu prices may not be the best solution. So what are the alternatives?

Self-publishing a cookbook

For several years, Hank Holliday, owner of Peninsula Grill in Charleston, South Carolina’s Planter’s Inn, talked about doing a cookbook to showcase the restaurant’s culinary legacy.

CORAL BEACH, FL (March 28, 2013 - The Packer)—More restaurant chains offer fruits and vegetables with children’s meals than they did in 2008, but the...

SAN DIEGO, CA (March 12, 2013)—Harvest Meat Company, Inc. acquired some Randall Farms distribution assets from Randall Foods, Inc. Terms of the deal were...

On-premise wine drinkers traded down from bottles to glasses in 2012, according to GuestMetrics, which tracks over 250 million checks from restaurants and bars across the U.S. In addition, Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon—longtime favorite varietals—lost some ground to Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir.

The Smokehouse Beef and Cheddar Brisket has been heating up the menu at Firehouse Subs since its launch, and now it’s starring in a special 90-day promotion. What makes this sandwich such a hot ticket at the Jacksonville, Florida sandwich concept? It starts with the meat.

Healthier choices, more local produce and rising menu prices are just a few of the trends restaurants are expecting to see in 2013, according to Restaurant.com, a site that offers discounts to diners. The popular site recently polled 106 fast-casual, QSR and full-service restaurants across the country to find out what’s on operators’ radar in 2013.

Quick service chains are cashing in on coffee. McCafe espresso-based beverages account for a substantial portion of McDonald’s revenues. The chain also sells packaged coffee in Canadian stores and may offer bags of McCafe Premium Roast in the U.S. For its part, Wendy’s upgraded its coffee program last year with the Redhead Roasters line and Burger King has partnered with Seattle’s Best Coffee.

What makes the sale for restaurant patrons? According to the NPD Group’s Crest foodservice market research, consumers are less enthused by combo-meals and dollar menus of the past. “On-a-deal” spending decreased for the second year in a row since 2008.

By the time November rolls around, many restaurant kitchens are elbow-deep in squash.