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Tea is habit forming

Deemed an affordable luxury, tea seems recession resistant. Despite record high prices, consumers are still sipping.

Notes from the field

The last few years have seen a subtle to seismic shift in the way restaurants source fruits and vegetables. From planting rooftop gardens to partnering with farmers, chefs and operators are making a big effort to be local and seasonal. But 2011 is shaping up as an even more produce-centric year.

Wholesale food costs will ease significantly for restaurants this year, but operators will still feel a pinch on margins because of customers’ resistance to pass-along increases in menu prices, according to the National Restaurant Association.

The 2012 U.S. corn crop is forecast to total 10.8 billion bushels, a decline of 13 percent from a year ago. While planted area is pegged at a record 96.4 million acres, yields are forecast to decline to 123.4 bushels per acre, a decline of more than 20 percent from trend levels. The decline reflects the most adverse weather in more than 20 years to face corn growers.

The industry is poised to slip back into a price war. Yet quality, not dirt-level prices, is what’s selling. So why’s it happening?

A single cup of the super-premium java goes for $7.50 at the chain’s Reserve Roastery and Tasting Room unit.

Outsourcing your employee screening and background checks reduces the time and expense involved in checking personal, academic and professional histories yourself. It can also lessen your legal liability.

Diners are flocking to chicken, duck, and other birds when they're prepared with signature touches.

When California passed its anti-smoking law, Cameron Palmer admits he “had to get creative really quickly.”

One controllable variable is the menu and it is the primary vehicle by which a foodservice operation presents its marketing strategy and helps customers satisfy their needs.

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