Webinar: Trends in Retail Food Marketplace

On Wednesday October 15th the National Restaurant Association is hosting a panel discussion webinar event that will touch upon the current trends in the retail food marketplace. This will include discussing the growing threat of ready made foods commonly sold by traditional grocery and convenience stores. The panel discussion will help you learn about the competition and consumer behavior driving this move, overall trends and strategies for competing in this new food marketplace.

Time will be allocated for questions directed to the panelists where you can get answers for issues relevant to your business. To register free for the webinar event, “The Grocerants are Eating Your Lunch: How Grocery Stores, C-Stores, Drug Stores & Home Delivery are Taking Away Market Share,” online click here. The event will take place from 4PM-5PM EST.

New York Taste 2014

New York Taste is a gastronomic gathering of experts in the New York restaurant scene that has been running since 1998. New York Taste is partnered with City Harvest, a food rescue charity dedicated to feeding the city’s hungry men, women and children. City Harvest works by collecting excess food from different segments of the food industry and delivers via truck or bicycle free of charge to roughly 400 different community food programs throughout the city. New York Taste has partnered with City Harvest for this charity event in the past and this will be their sixteenth run together. The diverse menu at the event will be curated by culinary editor Gillian Duffy and promises an evening full of delicious food and drink tastings from over 40 different restaurants, chefs and mixologists.

The general tasting event will take place Monday, November 10th at the Waterfront building (269 11th Avenue) from 7PM-9PM, with a special preview for VIP ticket holders from 6PM-7PM. Tickets are open to attendees of 21 years or older and are only available for purchase through TicketWeb, here, for $108.88 for general admission. For an extra cost, VIP tickets are available which include the special preview hour, access to the VIP Lounge and an event gift bag.

Learn more about the event and the different restaurants, chefs and mixologists that will be attending here


Americans Eating Healthier, Study Suggests

In a recently-released study from the US Department of Agriculture Research Service, researchers found that Americans have changed they way they eat for the better.  Increasingly, consumers are paying more attention to nutrition labels, lowering fat intake, and increasing fiber intake.  This is certainly optimistic news in light of the ever-expanding obesity epidemic that’s been facing the nation for more than a decade.

A large portion of the change has come from restriction; 20% of improvement in diet quality came from reduced consumption of food outside the house.  Specifically, calories consumed outside-the-home decreased by 127 calories per day, a drop attributed to Americans eating 3 fewer meals and 1.5 fewer snacks outside the house per month.

Menu labeling is working, as well; the report stated that 76% of working-age adults used the nutrition information to guide their decision when available at a restaurant.  And while more qualitative than quantitative, but just as hopeful, the survey respondents’ answers suggest that Americans are feeling more empowered to make positive changes in their diets and eating habits.  Author of the study Jessica Todd added, “When individuals believe that their actions directly affect their body weight, they might be more inclined to make healthier food choices.”

To read the study, click here.

Restaurant Authenticity vs. Food Safety

A recently published study in the academic journal, Management Science, alleges that consumers may be willing to disregard a restaurant’s poor restaurant rating if they feel there is a certain level to to the products and services. The report referenced Chinese restaurants in the 1980’s that stored ducks at room temperature in windows, ultimately facing health code violations. Customers objected, citing the fact that the method had been practiced for over 4,000 years.

Researchers set out to survey customer reviews over 9,700 restaurants in the Los Angeles area. While authenticity can be hard to gauge, certain key words were identified in the customer reviews. In comparing the “authenticity” score with the star rating and health grade, researchers found that unhygienic but authentic restaurants were valued similarly to their hygienic counterparts.

It brings an interesting point to the New York dining scene, were health grades are plastered in almost every restaurant window. What are your thoughts? Does authenticity trump food safety?

The Management Science report can be found here.

Olive Garden Faces Criticism from Investors

Olive Garden, the world’s largest Italian dining concept, must feel like a junior cook in Gordon Ramsey’s kitchen.  Activist hedge fund Starboard Value has been pummeling the chain’s ownership, Darden Restaurants, with changes that it feels the company needs to make in increase revenue and/or cut expenses.

Starboard released a 204-slide deck of suggestions for Olive Garden, detailing everything from board nominees to salting the pasta water.  Starboard even suggests that the concept eliminate the unlimited breadsticks program, saying that doing so could cut $5 million in waste.

Olive Garden, for their part, hasn’t taken the hits sitting down.  The company has fought back by pointing out that Starboard has built their offense with the help of former restaurants executives with a mixed track record of success.  Darden also says that many of the suggestions Starboard makes are items Darden already is implementing or has in the pipeline for the concept.

Darden and Starboard have been at war since late last year and are approaching a vote that will determine which side controls the board.  For its part, Starboard has nominated 12 new directors–including the longest-tenure CEO of Olive Garden, Brad Blum–to completely replace the current board.  Furthermore, Starboard is suggesting that Darden actually separate out the Olive Garden and LongHorn Steakhouse brands from the full portfolio in order to boost share value, which Darden denies would be the case.

To read more, click here.  For the Starboard presentation, click here, and for Darden’s response, click here.


NYC Welcomes Meyer’s New Marta

The seats are full at Danny Meyer’s newest restaurant, Marta, located in the Martha Washington Hotel.  The new Roman-style pizzeria, on 29th between Madison and Park, officially opened September 10th, and the enthusiasm is rolling in.  The kitchen isn’t only focused on pizza, though, and the wine list is ready to pair to the wide offering.

The menu features traditional and not-so-traidional pies–from simple sauce-and-mozzarella to the fior to zucca, with zucchini blossoms, mozzarella and anchovies.  Outside of the wood-fired pizza ovens, Chef Nick Anderer is playing with a giant Infierno wood-burning grill from GrillWorks.  The entrees and sides include items such as the beer-brined and fire-roasted half chicken and ash-cooked vegetables.  Because Marta is in the Martha Washington Hotel, diners are blessed with a Marta breakfast menu, as well, with house-churned butter, a wood-fired semolina pancake, and cornettos, to name a few.

Marta was born from Nick Anderer and Maialino partner Terry Coughlin’s desire to expand the Maialino context to a pizza joint.  They went to Mr. Meyer with the idea of a Roman-style pizzeria, and while it was a first for Meyer to put a single chef in charge of multiple restaurants, he sees it as a natural progression. “It also represents an evolution in my thinking about how I run this company,” Meyer said, “It’s a way of encouraging entrepreneurial aspirations that young chefs have. And at the same time, they can also draw on Union Square resources for this project.” Marta is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner seven days a week.

For more coverage on Marta, see here or here or here.

Webinar Event: Understanding The Decline In Dining Out

On September 23rd, 2014 at 2:00 EDT, an expert panel will host a live webinar titled,” Competing with the Refrigertor: Understanding the Millennial Decline in Dining Out.” The topics discussed will include how millennials form their dining decisions, what you can do to drive trial, and how to encourage long-term brand loyalty among Millennial customers. Millennials have a spending power of nearly $400 billion annually, yet they are choosing to dine out less frequently. In fact they are dining out 20% less than they did in 2007. The webinar will discuss how important it is to understand how millennials decide where and what to eat as this is the key to turning things around.

Webinar hosts include Dan Santy, President & CEO of Santy Integrated. Santy has a good understanding of the motivations that drive millennials and the marketplace has lead to intelligent strategies for an impressive roster of restaurant and multi-unit dining clients. Adam Pierno, Director of Brand Strategy and Planning at Santy Integrated will showase millennial insights in media, technology and the marketplace which lead to positive and revenue enhancing change for diners. James Bickers, Senior Editor of RetailCustomerExperience.com from Networld Media Group will also join the discussion as he has written about technology-related issued for many years both nationally and internationally.

For more information on how to join the live webinar, click here

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