Dine – In Traffic on the Rise

In recent years, diners have been choosing to take out meals or eat at home, but a recent study from The NPD Group shows the tides are changing. Consumers are enjoying more meals at restaurants as sit down traffic has grown 2 percent in 2014, in addition to 1-percent growth in 2013. Dine-in visits currently account for 39 percent of industry traffic and generate more than $233 billion dollars a year. For years there has been growth in the take out segment, which offers lower profit potential to restaurants as NPD analyst Bonnie Riggs told Nation’s Restaurant News “When you dine in the restaurant sales are much higher, you order more items”

One reason for dine-in growth is that restaurants are taking into account customer’s wants and taking the time to understand their target demographic. One industry spotlight of this is the national fondue chain, The Melting Pot. The chain began hosting focus groups with current and past consumers who gave much insight to the wants of their target market. Through these groups they found out that the restaurant was being used mostly for specialty occasions and consumers wanted a more approachable venue that they could frequent more often. By using the consumer feedback the Melting Pot made radical changes to their menu and operations that resulted in increased sales in 2014.

To read more from Nation’s Restaurant News, click here

Food Companies Come Clean

Over the last six months multiple food companies have announced plans to be more transparent with their ingredients and Panera Bread is the latest to jump on the bandwagon. The bakery-café chain Panera_Logo_announced that by the end of 2016 they plan to remove over 150 ingredients from their inventory which can be found on the “No No List” published on their website today.

Other companies that have made similar commitments include Nestle, Hersey, Pepsi and General Mills promising to eliminate a variety of artificial preservatives, flavors and colors, different kinds of sweeteners and meat from animals raised with antibiotics. Chipotle Mexican Grill also announced this week that all of their restaurants are GMO-Free meaning that none of their ingredients have been genetically modified. Chipotle co–CEO told CNN Money that “Chipotle is really showing that there’s a better way to dUnknowno fast food.”

In the past years, GMO’s have become a hot button issue, as there is concern regarding the safety of these genetically modified crops. According to the USDA GMO’s are in about 80% of conventional processed food in the United States. With little research confirming the negative effects of GMO’s many wonder if companies putting forth such effort to go natural is necessary. Additionally, most of the companies have been very careful with their placement stating that such changes are to meet consumer demands rather than taking a stance on the issue.

How do you feel about GMO’s? Do you think it’s necessary for these food giants to change their recipe for success? Leave us a comment and let us know!

To read more from the New York Times, click here

Mother’s Day Dining Trends

Mother’s Day is the most popular holiday of the year to dine out and new research from the National Restaurant Association shows that nearly half of Americans will choose to eat out for this holiday. American’s might see this day as a chance to give mom a break from cooking but it appears that the rest of the family does not plan on picking up the slack in the kitchen.

The survey done by the National Restaurant Association shows that 38% of consumers plan to dine out while 7% plan to get take out or delivery. Families with children increase that statistic revealing that 45% of these families will dine out and 10% will bring in food. Additionally, the survey shows that there is a correlation to the age of a child as the older the children, the more likely the family will dine out. Some individuals even announced plans to dine or order out multiple times this upcoming Sunday.

The National Restaurant Association has also found that of the Americans that will be spending their Mother’s Day in a restaurant 83% made their plans to do so less than one month ago.

To read more from the National Restaurant Association, click here

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Trending Now: Chef’s Table Netflix Debut

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Netflix’s newest original programming Chef’s Table debuts today and will showcase six notable chefs, giving viewers a look into their daily lives and their creative process. The series, produced by David Gelb, director of Jiro Dreams of Sushi, devotes an episode to each chef:

  • Ben Shewry – Attica, Australia
  • Magnus Nilsson – Fäviken, Sweden
  • Francis Mallmann – El Restaurante Patagonia Sur, Argentina
  • Niki Nakayama – N/Naka Restaurant, Los Angeles
  • Dan Barber – Blue Hill Restaurant, New York
  • Massimo Bottura – Osteria Francescana, Italy

Each episode is shot in the style of Jiro Dreams of Sushi but follows food from all over the world as Gelb wanted to show the “Planet Earth of Food”. Each chef chosen is very different from one another in hopes that seeing these chef’s stories will make viewers notice and change their perspective of the food currently in their lives.

Chef’s Table will premiere April 26 on Netflix. Watch the trailer below :

Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams Recalled for Listeria

Just days after the massive recall of every single Blue Bell Ice Cream product on shelves throughout the country, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams is doing the exact same thing.  After a random sampling done by Nebraska Department of Agriculture found contamination, the company has opted to recall every ice cream, sorbet, frozen yogurt, and ice cream sandwich in every flavor.

Listeria is a significant concern for manufacturers, as the infections can be fatal for young children, frail or older people, and those with weak immune systems.  In pregnant women, the infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths.  As such, Jeni’s has voluntarily recalled everything it sells: “Out of an abundance of caution, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams is taking this voluntary precautionary measure in order to ensure complete consumer safety,” noted CEO John Lowe.

The company is working with 10 top scientists, third-party labs in Columbus and throughout Ohio, four people with the FDA, and three people from the Ohio Department of Agriculture to help test and sample the products.  Results from these tests thus far indicate the presence of Listeria in the Jeni’s production kitchen.

Now, Lowe notes, they are focusing on “eradicating it” from the production facility–which will be tested and retested after the sterilization.

Unfortunately, as mentioned, Listeria outbreaks are going through a rash of occurrences–Sabra, Blue Bell, and now Jeni’s all in a single month.  To read more, click here.

Openings: Dominique Ansel Kitchen

Screen Shot 2015-04-28 at 11.23.31 AMTomorrow, the much-anticipated Dominique Ansel Kitchen will open its doors to the West Village. The Cronut king has taken the industry by storm developing hybrid desserts and he plans to take things to the next level with his newest endeavor. Dominique Ansel Kitchen will be the first of its kind bringing bakery retail together with restaurant service. According to their newly launched website 70% of the menu will be made to order.

Dominique Ansel names time as an ingredient, placing importance on the care and process that goes into each pastry. The bakery vows to offer the “best and most genuine versions of pastries…at the perfect time for you to eat it”. Menu speculation includes chocolate mousse, baba au rhum, beignets, mille-feuille and very buttery lemon tarts that are all prepared a la minute with a one to two minute prep time. Additionally, the bakery will offer savory options including garlic bread croissants and béchamel filled squid ink toasts.

Ansel announced earlier this month that 26-year-old Karys Logue would be his Executive Chef overseeing both Dominique Ansel Kitchen as well as the original Dominique Ansel Bakery. Logue first crossed paths with Ansel when they worked together at Daniel and since she has perfected her skills as sous chef at Café Boulud as well as executive pastry chef at Sepia and Tessa.

Dominique Ansel Kitchen, 137 Seventh Avenue South (10th Street), 212-242-5111, dominiqueanselkitchen.com

Big Gains for Organic Food

In 2014, US sales of organic food increased by 11%, to reach a total of $35.9 billion.  The Organic Trade Association, which released the survey, also noted that organic foods accounted for 5% of total foods sales.  Produce, which accounts for 36% of organic food sales rose $13 billion–a 12% increase over 2013.

Regionally, the rise was unilateral;  while the West Coast and Northeast purchase nearly 90% of their groceries from organic sources, the increase in sales was seen everywhere.  “We really moved beyond… the old assumptions about organic being niche and having sort of a cultural blanket over it,” said chief executive of the OTA, Laura Batcha.  “O.T.A.’s consumer survey has… found that organic doesn’t have any demographic… regional or partisan boundaries.”

Batcha noted also that the growth was “striking” because of major shortages in supply–less than 1% of farm acreage in the US is devoted to organic agriculture.  What was once the domain of specialty retailers like Whole Foods, organic foods have now gone mainstream: Walmart started offering organic products in 2013, and eight of ten parents claim to buy organic products.

In New York City, the rise is most apparent with the expansion of concepts such as Organic Avenue and Digg Inn.  Organic Avenue raised almost $10 million in 2012, and closed another round in 2013 for an undisclosed amount.

To read more, click here.

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