Shake Shack’s New Brooklyn Location at Flatbush Ave

Last Sunday marked the opening of Danny Meyer’s third Shake Shack location in Kings County. The Shack is located at 170 Flatbush Avenue near the Barclays Center and is in walking distance of several neighborhoods such as Fort Greene and Park Slope. It is also easily accessible by public transportation using the subway lines at the Atlantic Avenue station which is directly across the street. What will be known as the Flatbush Shack will be serving all the classics, but will also be serving a location-specific custard called ‘Nothin’ But NETS,’ as a tribute to the Brooklyn Nets. The custard consists of a chocolate and vanilla custard mix with marshmallow sauce, chocolate sprinkles and crunchy bits.

The Fudge-eddaboutit custard, which originated at the Downtown Brooklyn Shack location consists of a blend of chocolate custard, chocolate sauce, baked chocolate cloud cookie and Brooklyn Mast Brothers dark chocolate chunks topped with chocolate sprinkles and will also be featured at this new outpost. The Brooklyn Pie oh My custard ( featuring vanilla custard blended with a slice of seasonal pie from Four & Twenty Blackbirds) from the DUMBO location will also be served at the Flatbush Shack.

The Flatbush location will donate 5% of sales from the Brooklyn Pie oh My concrete to STOKED as part of Shake Shack’s mission to Stand For Something Good. STOKED is a mentoring program based in Brooklyn that teaches life skills through action sports in order to accelerate youth development. The Flatbush Shack is also keeping with Shake Shack’s commitment to the environment as it is constructed with sustainable and recycled materials as well as using features such as energy-efficient kitchen lighting and equipment. The Shack’s tabletops are made from reclaimed bowling alley lanes from CounterEvolution bowling alley in Brooklyn.

To read more about the opening of Shake Shack’ third Brooklyn location, click here


UN Food Agency Reports Low Global Food Prices

According to the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization, global food prices were at a six-month low in this past month of July. This was mostly due to the decreases in dairy, grains and oilseeds which evened out the rising prices of meat and sugar. FAO’s price index measures the price changes for oilseed, dairy, meat, sugar and baskets of cereals. The index averaged 203.9 points in July, a 4.4 point difference compared to June, or  a 2.1% decrease. This 203.9 figure was 1.7% below that of the previous July 2013.

The Food and Agriculture Organization’s cereal price index which was down 5.5 percent from June, and significantly lower than last year’s figure. According to the food agency this was due in main part to the expectation of large quantities of exportable supplies and the excellent production possibilities in many major producing countries. FAO raised its projection for global cereal production from 18 million tonnes to 2.498 billion tones and also increased the world outlook for cereal stocks to being 5% higher than the previous estimate which was set at 576 million tonnes.

To read more about the statistics surrounding the six-month low in world food prices from FAO, click here 

Webinar Series Event: Mastering the Business of Operating a Restaurant Company

The Hospitality Industry Practice of CohnReznick, a business and financial consulting firm, is presenting a webinar series on mastering the business of operating a restaurant company. The series will  focus on the most important financial and operational issues for hospitality companies. The upcoming webinar events are listed below:

September 16: The Human Capital Challenge

  • Determining if you have the right team for growth
  • ​The value of human capital
  • Preventing turnover among your staff
Speaker: Alice Elliot, Founder and CEO of The Elliot Group
Moderator: Cindy McLoughlinCohnReznick Partner
November 6: Understanding Capital Markets and Private Equity
  • Positioning your company to attract Private Equity Capital
  • ​Choosing the right equity partner
  • Valuation Strategies in today’s competitive market
  • Deal terms to consider
Speakers: Damon Chandik, Managing Director of Piper Jaffray & Co.
                  Jon Owsley, Partner at Catterton Partners
 Moderator: Gary Levy, CohnReznick Partner and Hospitality Industry Practice Leader
To register for these webinars and/or to access previous webinar presentations such as Making Your Brand Relevant To Today’s Consumer and Exploring Hospitality Operations click here

Menu Tweaks For Healthier Dining

Picking the healthiest options from a restaurant menu can often involve a good deal of scrutinizing. As the popularity of dining out has risen so too has the obesity epidemic; Americans receive over a third of their calories from meals prepared outside of their homes.  Unfortunately for restaurants, high margin foods are usually not the healthiest choices, so it would be smart to start selling higher margin healthy dishes, but how do you get the guest to order these foods?

A Cornell University professor of food marketing, Brian Wansink, believes that by tweaking menus, restaurants can find a way to satisfy the needs of  the guests, operators and physicians! According to Wansink’s study published by the International Journal of Hospitality Management , here are a dew ways to redesign menus to entice the guest to order healthier options:

  • Using color highlights, creative fonts and graphics to bring focus to the vegetables and whole grains. Descriptives such as “Chef’s Recommendation” or “Traditional Favorite,” have been shown to increase consumption by 28 percent.
  • Avoid using the label “healthy”—in food psychology, the guest mentality is that if they wanted to go healthy they would have opted for a different establishment that specializes in that domain.
  • People naturally scan menus like they do editorials, so by placing the healthier dishes in the four corners of the menu they will attract more attention.
  • Place the healthy food options at the tops and bottoms of columns—these items sell 25 percent more.
  • Rename the dishes by adding on a few adjectives. For example, “Succulent Italian Seafood Fillet,”will sell 28% more than “seafood salad.”
  • Whole dollar figures ($10) create the illusion that items are cheaper than if there is a decimal value ($10.00) . If possible, it is also recommended to remove the dollar sign completely so guests are not thinking about how much they will have to pay but rather what they are going to be consuming.

Wansink believes altering a menu can help to “shift attention, enhance taste expectations  and increase perception of value” to get people to make healthier eating choices.  To read more and check out a visual diagram he created, click here


Protecting Restaurant Intellectual Property

With the rise of digital and social media platforms being used for advertising, it is crucial for restaurants owners to protect their rightful intellectual property. It takes a great deal of creativity to grow a business, so the National Restaurant Association has come up with seven ways to protect this intellectual property in order to strengthen the restaurant brand and help to avert competitors.

  1. Names: It is recommended to consider names that won’t be difficult to protect. For instance, naming a restaurant after a family name will be difficult as chances are it already exists, however an arbitrary yet distinctive name with unspecified value will be easier to trademark; a little trademark research could come in handy. For local restaurants it is advisable to choose names that do not resemble those of competitors in the slightest, and for nationwide restaurant chains it is important to note that a strong trademark with a federal registration is obligatory.
  2. Menus:  Signature dishes should come with creative signature names as well. Opt for special names rather than non-specific descriptives.  Unique names can be protected as trademarks and help to build value for the restaurant. If the restaurant menu incorporates  illustrations, images, or photographs in a creative manner, these elements can also be protected and trademarked. By doing so, if a restaurant owner stumbles upon another restaurant that has copied the menu layout or names, he or she can use copyright law to stop the infringement.
  3. Recipes: Just as non-disclosures and non-competes are included in employee contracts, the actual restaurant recipes should also be protected. Not having protected recipes could result in the loss of a trade secret. Patent protection for unique and distinctive recipes is also highly recommended.
  4. Back-of-house: Many QSR have patented their methods of doing business such as their assembly lines for food preparation and even food-frying methods! .
  5. Take-home items: Signature products that are sold in restaurants  such as coffee, preserves, spices or condiments, apparel and dish ware for in-home use should seek trademark protection .  in expanded classes of goods as you are extending your brand beyond the confines of the restaurant.
  6. Décor:  Restaurant floor plans, layout and interior/exterior décor can be protected so long as it’s unique. Certain common layout/décor combinations cannot be protected, such as chianti bottled candles and red and white checkered linens in Italian restaurants, but if an operator consistently employs the same combination of unique and distinctive elements it can be protected.
  7. Websites and social media: Web pages can be protected under copyright law, as can it’s content such as the photographs and layout arrangements. Social media outlets should be consistent with themes similar to the website. The thing to look out for in the web sphere is to ensure that the content is not in violation of advertising laws as this can actually weaken the owner’s intellectual property.

The NRA has provided this helpful information to help out whether you are starting a new restaurant, opening a second location, or developing a franchise. Using intellectual property law to set your brand apart from others in an industry that is so competitive is a smart move. To read more about these seven steps, click here


New FDA Definition of “Gluten-Free”

According to the researcher Packaged Facts, the gluten-free food market in the USA will grown from $4.2 billion in 2012 to $6.6 by 2017. Although less than 1% of Americans have the disorder that would require a completely gluten-free diet, close to 1 in 3 people will abstain from gluten according to the trend watcher NDP Group. An analyst at Rabobank, a Dutch bank that is a global leader in Food and Agri-financing, has commented that, “Consumers, rightly or wrongly, have made a connection between gluten-free and healthy..Grain companies are hoping this trend crashes and burns sooner rather than later. But any trend is a marketing opportunity.”

Up until now an official definition of what qualifies a food item as gluten-free hasn’t existed. The Food and Drug Administration has now created an official definition to make those suffering from celiac disease and others who try to abstain from gluten products easier to identify. Packaged foods will be considered gluten-free if they contain less than 20 parts of the protein per million per kilogram; this is the smallest quantity that can be measured reliably and the FDA claims 95% of food that is labeled as such meets this criterion. This rule, however, does not apply to alcohol or beer, nor does it apply to restaurants but the FDA is trying to encourage more and more restaurant chains to meet the specific standards of a public-health service.

There is no new logo or FDA label for the gluten-free products that manufacturers have to use, it suffices that a variation of the words “gluten-free” appear on the FDA approved package. To read more about how the new FDA definition of gluten-free products will impact manufacturers and consumers alike, click here


Menu Innovation With Meatless Sandwiches

There is no doubt that there is an abundance of sandwich options in New York. It is common to find meatball subs or great deli meat combos, however the vegetarian options are definitely less popular. There are many grilled cheese options and quite a few vegan sprout/tofu/hummus combinations but it is rare to find a meatless option that is truly enticing and interesting. Some establishments, however, have incorporated great satisfying meatless sandwich options into their menus and are watching as even meat lovers opt for the vegetarian counterparts. Here are a few sandwiches around Manhattan that are creating a buzz:

  • PARM: 248 Mulberry St., New York
    •  The eggplant parm sandwich at Parm is served with thin slices of fried eggplant, marinara sauce, and melted mozzarella. It is available either on a roll or hero and is delicious.
  • TAÏM FALAFEL AND SMOOTHIE BAR: 22 Waverly Place, New York
    • Taïm is known for their amazing falafel, however their sabich, an Iraqi and Israeli breakfast sandwich, is also a star product. The sabich has sweet fried eggplant, slices of hardboiled egg, hummus, cucumber, tomato salad, cabbage slaw and a pickled mango sauce all stuffed into a delicious warm pita.
  • NUM PANG SANDWICH SHOP: 75 9th Ave, New York
    • The cauliflower sandwich at Num Pang Sandwich Shop has roasted cauliflower, spicy eggplant spread,cucumber, pickled carrots, cilantro and a chili mayo sauce. It is a great meatless alternative to the traditional bang mi.
  •  MEAT HOOK SANDWICH: 495 Lorimer St., Brooklyn
    • The vegetarian sandwich at Meat Hook Sandwich in Brooklyn airs on the heavier side as it incorporates all the vegetarian toppings including cheese, fried onions, hash browns and caponata amongst others…
  • SHAKE SHACK: 11 Madison Avenue, New York
    • Shake Shack cleverly offers a vegetarian option that is not limited to a veggie burger made of beans or other vegetables made into a patty. The Shroom Burger is a portobello mushroom that is stuffed with cheese and then deep fried, topped with lettuce, tomato and the delicious Shack sauce.

These sandwiches stand up to their meaty counterparts delivering great flavor and texture. To read more about meatless sandwiches and to find one near you, click here


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