Factors Affecting U.S. Restaurants

The restaurant scene is consistently full of evolving trends such as the growth of mobile payments or different flavor profiles. Spicy flavors have been found to be increasingly popular; according to a study by FONA International, consumers have now come to expect a little heat in their dishes. Millenials make up most of this group, perhaps because they have been more widely exposed to Asian and Latin cuisines which have a higher heat level in their dishes. These flavor profiles are also popular in the beverage industry leading craft brewers to experiment with the heat levels in infused spicy beverages such as Aztec coffee, or spiced brown liquor. Also in the beverage industry, spirits are now competing with beer for young adult consumer preferences. A Technomic report showed that these consumers now range beyond beer to include spirits and wine as well which is mostly driven by cost and certain flavor attributes.

Another factor affecting U.S. restaurants is the notion of the governments involvement in food regulations. Food-safety scares and the focus on the nation’s increasing obesity issues have led many Americans to have a shift in their attitude towards the governments role in food. Sullivan Higdon reports that. ’34 percent of consumers believe the government is too involved in food regulation, while 36 percent think it has the right amount of involvement, and 30 percent say the government is too involved in what they eat.’

The mobile app frenzy is also very clearly a factor affecting U.S. restaurants. Restaurants are encouraging diners to download apps before dining to facilitate mobile payment sand exclusive loyalty rewards. Guests with a smartphone are able to pay with their device using mobile wallet or Passbook which stores the guest’s credit card details and payment information. To read more about factors that are affecting U.S. restaurants, click here

Dunkin’s Croissant Donut

The cronut craze arrived in New York last year courtesy of Dominique Ansel Bakery, who still has a line out the door. This caused other food businesses to attempt to copy the infamous cronut such as Crumbs Bake Shop’s Crumbnut and Jack In The Box’s Croissant Donut. Although a bit late to the game, beginning November 3rd Dunkin’ Donuts will begin to offer its own version of the croissant and donut hybrid.

Dunkin’ Donuts told the Associated Press that their version is not a copycat version and that the cross of a donut and croissant has been around for decades. The Dunkin’ locations in Korea were even selling one which they called the New York Pie Donut last summer. The Korean version isn’t glazed, but this new croissant donut in the U.S. will be and consist of 24 layers of dough. If all goes well, perhaps in the future they may offer their croissant donut with cream filling.

According to the press release and similar to Dominique Ansel’s marketing strategy, the croissant donuts “will be made in limited quantities and served each day while supplies last.” To add a sense of uniqueness and ‘luxury’ the pastry will be packaged in clear boxes for $2.49. To read more about the launch of Dunkin’s Croissant Donut, click here

DIY Restaurant PR Workshop

On Thursday, November 13th a fun workshop will be held at the NYC Chapter office at 1001 Avenue of the Americas, 3rd Floor on do-it-yourself public relations techniques for restaurants. The workshop will take place from 10am to 11:30am and will be presented by Nancy A. Shenker, Founder & CEO of the marketing company, theONswitch. Nancy’s company specializes in growing companies through digital and conventional strategies. theONswitch has worked with food service businesses, restaurants and other industries to come up with innovative PR strategies. Nancy has also blogs for the Huffington Post and is the author of “Don’t Hook Up with the Dude in the Next Cube: 200+ Career Secrets for 20-Somethings.”

This seminar will be helpful to restaurant owners and managers or PR and marketing professionals who work in-house for restaurants or restaurant groups that are interested in learning about how to increase their press coverage. Nancy will walk through how to achieve this using traditional and digital media through an interactive session. There will also be a prize for one participant of a free pitch and a list of 10 media contacts.

The workshop will also teach how to write the perfect pitch, how to engage with the right media people, and how to prevent the ‘post-PR depression’ and deal with bad reviews. To sign up for the workshop and learn how to reach the press register with the New York State Restaurant Association by November, 11th here.


Webinar Event: Food Waste vs. Food Excess

The first ever Zero Food Waste Forum was held earlier this month in Berkley, CA hosted by the Northern California Recycling Association (NCRA). The forum consisted of a gathering of global leaders in food waste prevention and recovery that brainstormed together on how decrease the current 40% food waste in the U.S. This is an absurd statistic being that 1 in 6 adults and 1 in 4 children are food insecure at some point during the year.

One of the topics discussed at the forum was the need to re-determine the meaning of “food waste.” As it stands now, ‘waste’ in this context means “material that is not wanted; the unusable remains or byproducts of something.” The issue is that a lot of this so-called ‘waste’ is actually edible, recoverable food. Referring to this ‘waste’ as ‘food excess’ could impact people’s perceptions.

On November 14th a LeanPath webinar will be available to guid you through designing a food waste management plan. You can sign up for the webinar, Managing Food Waste: A Micro-Training Session for Foodservice and Culinary Professionals, here. For more information on the food recovery hierarchy visit Food Recovery Challenge page on the EPA website here.


Restaurant Letter Grade System Reform

As Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration is looking to eliminate letter grades for public schools, the NYC Hospitality Alliance  believed it is a good opportunity to urge City Hall to focus on the letter-grade system in restaurants. The reasoning behind removing the letter grades in public schools was that it affected reputations and could feel punitive, which is the same case for restaurants. Letter grades can be misleading for diners as they only reflect a restaurant’s sanitary condition in the period of time that they were inspected.

The point allocation is also something that the NYC Hospitality Alliance believes should be rethought so that the point values fairly reflect their impact on food safety. Another suggested reform is to eliminate points for non-food-safety-related violations as well as seeing the adjudication process  through to the end before scheduling a second inspection. Andrew Rigie, executive director of the NYC Hospitality Alliance, fully believes that the restaurant industry believes in high food-safety standards and would do a better job of upholding these standards if they were not being slapped with fines and punitive letters from a letter grade system that is in need of a reform.

To read more about how the restaurant grading system currently works and what could improve the current system, click here

Pride of NY Harvest Fest

Tis the season for fall harvest fairs! The Pride of NY Harvest Fest will be taking place this year on November 8th & 9th at The Desmond Hotel and Conference Center in Albany. This will be a great opportunity to taste the best regional food and wine products. About 100 vendors from throughout the state will be showcasing and sampling their products ranging from wine to sauces. An auction will also be taking place during the event, the Harvest Fest Silent Auction, which will benefit the NYS Restaurant Association Educational Foundation.

The event will be a great place to explore and find new food and wine products for the holiday season be it for offering gifts or for dinner! The event will take run from 8am to 11pm on both the Saturday and Sunday. The weekend tasting pass is being sold for $60, and as part of any ticket purchase, access to one seminar of your choice is free. There are more ticket options for different events on only the Saturday or Sunday. For more information on the event and to purchase tickets, click here.



NYC Restaurant Openings & Closings

New York City hasn’t seen this many restaurant openings since 2007, however, it also has had double the amount of restaurant closings compared to last year. There were 160 New York restaurant openings in 2014, and 82 closings compared to 42 last year. Tim Zagat, co-founder of the Zagat Survey explains his take on why some restaurants are failing and others are spreading, “The discrepancy between openings and closings is the largest since 2005…there are a lot of rent-caused closings that are maybe driving up the number. And that will affect in the industry in the coming years.”

Zagat goes on to explain that rents will always go up in New York City and if a restaurant has been open 10 years (it is common  there will be a large increase, which is what is happening all across the city and explains so many restaurants going out of business.  When restaurants have 10 year leases, which is fairly common, at the end of that lease landlords tend to increase the rent up to ‘market rates,’ which usually are just not feasible for the restaurant forcing them to close.

A few notable restaurants which are experiencing this phenomenon include Danny Meyer’s Union Square Cafe and WD-50 on the Lower East Side. Meyer comment in his New York Times Op-Ed, “It’s hard to come to grips with the notion that our success has, in part, contributed to our inability to remain in our neighborhood.” WD-50 will close end of this month to make way for a new building. To read more about the openings and closings of NYC restaurants, click here


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