Thomas Henry Strenk

Articles by
Thomas Henry Strenk

Page 5

Cashing in on quality coffee

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.


New and noteworthy in drinks: chocolate wine and aged cider

Wine snobs may cringe, but red wine flavored with chocolate is a rapidly growing trend, especially among Millennial consumers.

Owner Christopher Mullins is getting a jumpstart on fall at McGillin’s Olde Ale House in Philadelphia. The 152-year-old tavern launched its Oktoberfest celebration at the end of August. “We try to be the first for all of the holidays,” says Mullins.

Chia is the new superfood. Yes, that chia, of the “pet” craze in the 1980s. Favored by the Aztecs, this herb is still popular in Mexico, where the whole seeds are mixed with fruit juices to make chia fresca.

A whole new category of restaurant is springing up around the country, a hybrid of bar and distillery. Similar in concept to brewpubs, these newfangled establishments produce the spirits in-house that they mix into cocktails behind the bar.

Bound’ry’s decanting ceremony is a bit of theater that helps sell more wine. For young, tannic wines the restaurant employs a “flash decanter” to aerate the wine—a process performed at the table. Beforehand, the guest is given a sip straight from the bottle so that they can taste the difference.

Tea doesn’t seem to command the same devotion and geekdom that coffee does here in the U.S. While coffee houses boast Rube Goldberg contraptions for brewing java, many operators still throw a tea bag in a cup of hot water—which doesn’t cut it for tea lovers.

You know the signs. Customers don’t even look at the drinks menu anymore. Trendwise, your signature cocktail is so last year. Beverage sales in general are on the decline. It’s time to do something to get guests ordering those high-margin drinks again. Here are the first steps:

Quite a few restaurants mix up their own soft drinks these days, but Oak at Fourteenth in Boulder, Colorado, takes the idea a step further by bottling housemade sodas with a high-tech double carbonation system.

Customers are starting to realize that many cocktails pack a load of calories. Responding to rising demand, a growing number of restaurants are developing slimmer sippers.

The industry never stops innovating. Better promotions? Check. Ingenious service upgrades? Got it. And don’t even think restaurants are done improving on the farm-to-fork trend. Once again you’ve managed to put lightning in a bottle—50 times.

One of the bright spots in the restaurant industry is the morning daypart. Breakfast generates $42 billion in annual sales or 12 percent of the industry total, estimates Chicago market consultancy, Technomic.

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