From 2007 to 2011 diners experienced sales dips of 5 to 25%, according to restaurant research firm Technomic. During the same period the restaurant industry at large saw little change in sales figures. “Diners are American as apple pie,” notes a recent article on Investopedia, “yet their popularity is waning with today’s consumers.” The web publication continues on the diner topic by offering this analysis: “Once beloved for their heaping servings of comfort food, casual and family dining establishments are seeing a decrease in revenue as they struggle to keep up with patrons’ demands for healthy, fresh, made-from-scratch meals.” For similarly health-concious reasons, Investopedia says, buffets and all you can eat restaurants have been shutting down. Another reason Investopedia cites for the decline in these value based restaurant is that they “are popular with senior citizens who often have limited budgets.” Related From The Horizon Business Funding Blog:  CDC finds Americans eating less fast food Nation’s Restaurant News says to maintain business during Lent chains

CDC finds Americans eating less fast food

Thursday, 21, February , 2013 by

On the front page of NYTimes.com this morning is an article called “Children in U.S. Are Eating Fewer Calories, Study Finds.” The article primarily deals with a Centers for Disease Control and Preventionstudy that compares children’s caloric intake 2010 to the same demographic’s intake in 1999. Luckily this number is going down, a sign that American’s are moving in the right direction in the fight against obesity. Yet, the declines are too modest to tell us much. Perhaps more significant is a concurrent study conducted by the C.D.C on fast food intake among American adults. The Times mentions this study at the end of the article, explaining, “Another surprise, researchers said, was the decline in calories coming from fast food among American adults. Those calories fell to 11.3 percent of adults’ total daily intake in 2010, down from 12.8 percent in 2006.” Nonetheless, shares of McDonald’s stock (NYSE:MCD) rose 125 percent between January 2006 and December 2010. Wendy’ (NASDAQ:WEN) was down 73 percent for the

According to Nation’s Restaurant News, chain restaurants commonly offer Lent friendly menus this time of year. An article in the industry publication notes, “restaurant chains focus their menu development and marketing to make sure they are not giving up traffic and sales between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday, a 40-day period when Christians observing Lent abstain from certain vices or habits.” The most common adjustments is to add fish options to food offerings. This is because during Lent many Christians refrain from eating meat on Fridays. Restaurants aiming to serve this constituency, according to Nation’s Restaurant News,  include McDonald’s, Carl’s Jr. and Wendy’s. Last year at this time, McDonald’s (the largest restaurant chain in America) introduced Chicken McBites. The chain’s website describes the bite sized snacks as “Juicy bites made with chicken breast meat, in three deliciously poppable sizes.” This year it expanded the offering to fish with Fish McBites. McDonald’s writes these are, “Tender, flaky wild-caught Alaskan Pollock in crunchy bite-sized pieces. Available in three sizes – snack,

For months the media has been filled with news of the worst flu season in years. While this is bad news for those stuck in bed, it is apparently good news for the orange juice industry. An article on MSN Money explains, “During the four weeks that ended Jan. 19, U.S. orange juice sales rose 5.5% by volume and 7.4% by revenue from a year earlier. It was the first increase in two years, according to Nielsen data cited by The Wall Street Journal.” However, the article notes that the scientific jury is still out on whether the juice and the vitamin C it is known for actually help cure common illnesses like the flu or a cold. MSN writes, “Orange juice is chock full of vitamin C, which many people believe helps them get over cold and flu symptoms. The idea was made famous by the late Nobel laureate Linus Pauling. Unfortunately, there seems to be a disagreement among scientists about whether this conventional wisdom is true.” Related

Last month Loyalogy, a company which analyzes and consults on restaurant loyalty programs, released the results of it’s first major study. This study looks at the way customers perceive and use incentivized rewards programs. The survey used to compile the data contained 50 questions which were posed to 1,124  diners across America. Founder and president of Loyalogy Dennis Duffy wrote in a press release, “The LoyaltyPulse study provides clear evidence directly from consumers regarding the effectiveness of restaurant rewards programs and the value associated with using the rewards program data to tailor and target guest e-mail communication.” Among Loyalogy’s findings are these statistics: 4 of 5: The number of customers who prefer programs that have clear guideline, such as “buy 10 coffees get the 11th free,” over programs with random prizes. 65%: The percent of diners who say they would be more likely to recommend a restaurant with a good loyalty program. 35%: The percent diners estimate their “visit rate” to a given restaurant would increase with a rewards program. 10%:

  Tomorrow night you will have sweet corn, tomato and cod chowder for dinner (with a side of bruschetta). You will not go to a restaurant to enjoy it, a gourmet shop to purchase it or even your knife drawer to prepare it. Instead you will go to Plated.com, click order and wait for a box of perfectly portioned ingredients to arrive at your door.  Then you cook. Plated is part of a new wave of websites aiming to simplify the process of preparing dinner. Each week the start-up offers a unique, chef-designed menu. Semi-home-cooks read though the ingredient lists and chef pitches, order at least four-plates and skip all the steps before cook. They still, however, get the satisfaction of taking part in the process. A recent New York Times article notes that Plated, and other “dinner-kit” companies, “addresses some paradoxes peculiar to today’s home kitchens: while Americans, fed a steady diet of TV cooking shows and nutritional news, care increasingly about what they eat, many

  Today, the Dinning and Wine section of The New York Times features a profile called, “At City Grit, the Guest Is in the Kitchen.” The pieces welcomes readers inside City Grit, a year old “restaurant” where the menu changes nightly and, often, so does the chef. This constant motion is because founder Sarah Simmons sees her space as an experience or gathering, rather than a traditional restaurant. A quick look at the schedule of dinners planned for this month shows that each night is dedicated to fulfilling a culinary fantasy. At many fine dinning establishments this means the diners, but in this case it’s the chefs’ fantasy. The food may be Simmon’s sassy southern cooking or a China inspired feast from one of her guests. The Times describes the NoLita space as, “an Off Broadway option: City Grit, a self-described culinary salon that functions as a kind of permanent pop-up, giving both unknown and established chefs the opportunity to drum up attention in the media and the food world.” Pop-up restaurants have

  Each year the Nation’s Restaurant News compiles a list of the “Top 200” largest restaurants in America. The trade publication uses sales and other data on American chains. The first portion of the 2012 report  — the “Top 100” — was released in the early part of the summer. Numbers 101-200 were put out later in the season. The package the 39th such list. In the methodology explaining how the Top 100 is tabulatedthe editors of NRN explain, “The Top 100 report and the forthcoming Second 100 report provide a detailed, brand-by-brand assessment and three-year performance comparison of the largest individual organizations in foodservice. The two-part Top 200 study is NRN’s annual endeavor to compile and rank results of the industry’s cash cow brands and corporations. This year’s reports give readers a panoramic view of the market battles being waged for the hearts, minds and dining budgets of America’s consumers.” The methodology goes on to explain that NRN’s list is different than other restaurant

  In anticipation of Valentine’s Day, web reservation giant OpenTable conducted a survey to find out what diners really want from the heart-filled holiday. Here are some of the most interesting results: Despite the lavish tasting menus many restaurants offer in honor of Valentine’s Day, most people who answered the survey (67%) expect to order a la carte. Respondents estimate that they will spend $139 per couple next weekend, this is more than double the OpenTable average of $85 per couple. Since the holiday falls on a Thursday this year, only half of the people surveyed plan to celebrate on February 14. Many will move the festivities to the weekend, with 8% planning to eat out multiple nights. The top three deciding factors in picking a restaurant for the event were: reviews, ambiance and service. People were less concerned about location, special menus ann wine lists. Perhaps less useful restauranteurs is the information on who diners feel should celebrate Valentine’s Day. The results are nonetheless fascinating:

  In Fall 2012 The National Restaurant Association conducted a digital survey of of 1,834 chefs, all members of the American culinary Federation. The group was given a list of 198 food items or themes that could appear on restaurant menus in 2013. The chefs ranked these items as a “hot trend,” “yesterday’s news” or “perennial favorite.” The NRA used this information to create a master “What’s Hot” list that ranks every item, as well as sub hot lists, The organization also extrapolated 20 major trends from the responses. At the top of the list is “locally sourced meats and seafood” with 82% of respondents calling it a “Hot Trend.” This is followed by “locally grown produce” with 81% and “healthful kids’ meals” with 78%. Next “environmental sustainability” and “children’s nutrition” are tied with 77%. The, perhaps more surprisingly, the chefs rated “new cuts of meat (e.g. denver steak, pork flat iron, teres major)” with 76%. The bottom five ratings went to “breakfast burritos” with 15%, “chicken

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