Patricia Cobe

Senior Editor

Articles by
Patricia Cobe

Page 161

Eating my way through NRA 2011

I always approach the aisles of the National Restaurant Show with a plan: hit my favorite coffee places first for a cup of extra-bold java or a latte, then snack on samples of bacon, cheese and bread so I can have “breakfast” before the big graze begins. This year started out the same, as I walked the floor at Chicago’s massive McCormick Place, but I soon got caught up in a feeding frenzy, elbowed by the thousands of attendees all vying to taste the latest and greatest of 2011.


What's happening at the table across the pond

Restaurant Business sat down with Peter Backman, managing director with Horizons, a London-based foodservice consultancy, to compare restaurant trends in the U.S. and the U.K.

The Manhattan Cocktail Classic kicked off with its 2011 gala. An estimated 3,000 revelers in cocktail party garb—none of whom seemed like sober scholars—traversed the four floors, sampling handcrafted cocktails at 100 stations manned by the industry’s master mixologists.

Bottom line: A very specific need here: a restaurant needs to do a cooking demo on TV and doesn’t know best practices. If they do it right not only will...

Bottom line: It can be hard for a restaurateur to know—without practice—how to figure out servings for a massive crowd at an event. Some guidance can...

You can’t learn everything in culinary school. Or business school. Some lessons you’ve just got to learn on the job. With that in mind we set out to gather a little collected wisdom from the industry on how to do some of the more obscure tasks an operator might face. Challenges abound out there. Hopefully this will help get you through a few of them.

Commodity prices are on the rise. And animal proteins—always one of a restaurant’s more expensive buys—are getting hit hard. But there are ways you can purchase and plate beef, pork and lamb to ease the pain—without shortchanging your customers or your profits. Listen to what these chefs, suppliers, economists and other experts have to say.

Culver’s, famous for its Butter Burgers and frozen custard, is heavily franchised—only nine of its 427 stores are company-owned. But to keep messaging consistent and response time short, Culver’s centralizes its social media efforts, monitoring Twitter and Facebook from its home base 24/7. Tweets and posts fall on the agile fingers of the internal marketing team with help from an outside agency.

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.

Product recalls can be devastating to the restaurant industry, yet traceability along the foodservice supply chain is complicated and outdated. “Foodservice is where retail was 40 years ago,” said Syndee Stiles, vice president of operations support for McLane Foodservice, at Restaurant Leadership Conference session on traceability.

Value-oriented consumers, increased protein prices and the social media revolution were a few of the trends laid out during presentations by Technomic and GE Capital at the Restaurant Leadership Conference.

Growth in the restaurant industry will come near-term from grabbing market share from other concepts, said Warren Solochek, vice president of foodservice for The NPD Group.

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