Healthy Snacking On The Go

There is a growing opportunity for restaurants to provide guests with healthy menu items that can be eaten regularly. Since snacking has essentially created its own day part, and more people are also focusing on adapting more active and healthy lifestyles, it is beneficial for operators to provide the guest with healthy grab and go snacking options with good nutritional value. A market research firm called The Hartman Group showed in their 2013 “Modern Eating: Cultural Roots, Daily Behaviors” report that snacking represents half of all eating occasions.

Alex Blair, franchise owner of Chicago’s fast casual concept, “Freshii” notices there is an increased rush of guests mid morning and after lunch for healthy snacks and fresh juices and smoothies. As more people try to incorporate fresh juices and vegetables in their diet, Blair has noticed an increase in sales for fresh juices. “Post-gym, people come to us for our smoothies,” Blair says. “There’s a huge following for recovery foods, and lots of customers are big on small, healthy meals. Often, we see the same customer several times a day.” This has led Freshii to partner with big name gyms such as Equinox and place their stores in the gym.

According to the National Restaurant Association, 72 percent of consumers are more likely to visit a restaurant with healthy items on the menu. Being that the snacking day part continues to grow at the same rate that people are making healthier eating habits, it is a great time to add healthy fast food snacks as menu items. To read more about incorporating healthy grab and go items, click here


José Andrés to Enter Fast Casual Segment in D.C.

José Andrés, the Ferran Adrià prodigy who popularized Spanish cuisine in the U.S., will be launching a vegetable-focused fast casual concept. The first location of ‘Beefsteak” (play on the tomato variety), will open on campus at George Washington University in Washington D.C. early next year. José Andrés, aside from having his own course on food at the university, also serves as an advisor on food initiatives and has been testing dishes with his staff for months.

José Andrés would like to clarify that his concept is not “vegetarian,” it is vegetable-centric. As Jose says, “We don’t like to call it vegetarian. We want to call it tasty, fun, sexy, good-looking.” Vegetables has been around forever, so this concept is not about ‘the next big thing,’ so much as it is re-inventing and converting people’s ideas about vegetables. Roy Choi, the Los Angeles food-truck chef, recently posted on his Instagram about the future of vegetables and how he is, “trying to make vegetables relevant to a new generation by just making them fun.” Batali and Bastianich also have a portion of Eataly dedicated solely to dishes prepared with vegetables, and world famous chef Rene Redzepi of Noma is always preaching the virtues of vegetables.

Vegetable restaurants do exist, such as Vedge in Philadelphia, where chef Richard Landau reaffirms that vegetables are beginning to ‘move from the side of the plate to the center.” Jose Andre’s Beefsteak will be the first of its kind in Washington D.C. and if it is successful, will expand and open more locations. Before opening his now wildly successful Jaleo, people had their doubts about tapas and small portions; now small plates are a nationwide phenomenon. José Andrés is confident that despite the doubts about a vegetable-centric fast casual, he will be successful in giving the people “what they don’t know they are craving.”

To read more about the new fast casual concept and other vegetable-focused eateries, click here

Data-Enhanced Pricing Strategies

Small nuances and discrepancies in like-item prices are very common in the foodservice industry; this is often the result of two pricing models: cost-plus and value-based. These strategies, which have been used for years across the industry, do not fully allow for the integration of consumer behavior data that is now so much more accessible to operators and so relevant to pricing menu items. While the old methods are by no means incorrect, it is important to stay ahead of the curve and innovate at the same pace as the industry; not taking massive amount of data into consideration may be causing operators to miss out on opportunities to increase check averages.

Systems can be built to leverage large amounts of data and new technology to understand purchase behavior. Amazon has created algorithmic systems that alter millions of prices multiple times throughout the day based on e-commerce purchase behavior based off of region, time of day, aggregate consumer behavior and individual consumer behavior. Amazon is an example of how sophisticated pricing systems can be, and while the foodservice industry might not need as extreme of systems, it could definitely use an update that could borrow similar strategies.

QSR Magazine will be publishing a series of articles that explore alternative pricing strategies that can be applied to the industry using hypothetical restaurants with menu items and prices. The goal by the end of the series is to “determine quality inputs, analyze the data, optimize prices based off that data, and then do it all over again with a different set of inputs.” To read more about enhancing pricing strategies and to follow the series, click here


Impact Investing for Young Professionals

On Tuesday October 28th, the Net Impact NYC Professional Chapter will be hosting the panel: Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is: Impact Investing for Young Professionals. Net Impact is an international nonprofit organization that aims to provide individuals with the necessary knowledge and tools to use the power of business to create a more socially and environmentally sustainable world. The panel will be discussing different ways individual investors can make a financial return while making a positive impact on society.

The guest panelists are member of various organizations including Slow Money NYC, First Affirmative Financial Network, Domini Social Investments and Return on Change as well as Financial Advisors and CPAs. If the option of meeting with a panelist or CPA for a 1:1 advising session is of interest, registration must be completed at an earlier date. Amy Cortese, award-winning author and journalist who has covered topics such as business, finance, food, wine and environmental issues, will be moderating the panel and leading the discussions.

Below is some ticket information for the event, note that Early Bird admission sales end today! To register for the event and receive more information on the panelists, click here

Ticket Information

Early Bird Oct 15th, 2014 $25.00 $2.37
Net Impact Paid Member Oct 28, 2014 $15.00 $1.82
Net Impact Paid Member – Admission Plus 1:1 Advising Oct 28, 2014 $25.00 $2.37
General Admission Not Started $30.00 $2.64



Retail Spotlight: Curated Food Markets


Their Success…There is no doubt that the opportunity to be a food vendor at curated food markets such as Smorgasburg or any of the seasonal UrbanSpace markets offers great brand exposure. The artisanal and handcrafted fare that can be found at such markets create a communal atmosphere and interactive experience for guest and vendors alike. The transformed city spaces provide an excellent platform for food companies to market their brand and products, especially if the vendor is in the process of opening their first brick and mortar location.

The open-air market space serves as a great ‘test kitchen’ to showcase the vendor’s products with locals and tourists of all ages and backgrounds as an audience. While the great exposure may often take precedence over the revenue for the sheer marketing and promotional opportunities, there are also certain challenges that are encountered by the vendors.

Firstly, the demand for a spot at these markets is very high and the application process is very selective. One reason for the careful selection process is the restriction on same-item sales; for example, two different doughnut companies or two different coffee companies cannot operate on the same day in the same market space. Vendors are also at the complete mercy of their exposition to the elements; basing production off of the ever-changing weather forecasts can be tricky!

Take Aways…Overall there is no comparable marketing opportunity for food vendors trying to spread awareness of their brand and promoting their products. The sense of community created in these spaces and general atmosphere is unique; the New York Times has even coined Smorgasburg as, “The Woodstock of Eating.” The eclectic mix of vendors, diverse culinary fare and general entrepreneurial spirit create an exceptional environment for foodies and business professionals alike.

Check out some of these current and upcoming markets in New York:

Curated Food Markets:
UrbanSpace Garment District
September 15th-October 17th
41st St & Broadway
11AM-9PM Daily
April 5th Thru November 22nd/23rd
Saturdays: Williamsburg, East River State Park
Sundays: Brooklyn Bridge Park Pier 5
Soon moving indoor for winter starting November 29th at 80 N 5St, Brooklyn
UrbanSpace Broadway Bites
October 6th- November 14th
Greeley Square Park, 33rd St & Broadway
Holiday Markets:
Columbus Circle Holiday Market
59th St & Central Park West, SW Park Entrance
December 2nd- 24th
Hours TBA
Union Square Holiday Market
Nov 20th – December 24th
Union Square Park 14th St
Hours TBA


Crumbs Bakery Is Back!

Crumbs filed for bankruptcy earlier this summer upsetting cupcake lovers across the nation. Come next Tuesday Crumbs will be reopening! A grand reopening celebration will be taking place at their 1385 Broadway location in the Garment District which has recently been repainted for the event. There are twenty five over locations including L.A, Chicago and Boston that will be having celebratory opening blowouts over the course of the next 20 days.

One of Crumbs Bakery’s new partners, TV host Marcus Lemonis, is eager for the relaunch to showcase his new bagel-croissant hybrid which is meant to encompass the “new, modern Crumbs experience.” This new fusion pastry coined “baissant” with be found in stores next to the “Crumbnut,” a reinterpretation of the Cronut. The idea of introducing these new pastry mash-ups was to diversify the product mix beyond just the scope of cupcakes. There will also be some new cupcake flavors though such as salted caramel and key lime. A few other new non-cupcake offerings will include frozen desserts, cookies, gluten-free options and Crumbs chocolate bars.

To read more about the reopening of Crumbs and it’s new product mix, click here

Restaurant Same-Store Sales Rise 1.6%

During the third quarter of 2014 Black Box, a financial performance benchmarking company, reported that restaurants saw the best sales trends in two years. The Restaurant Industry Snapshot from TDn2K’s Black Box Intelligence and People Report showed same store sales rose 1.6%; a great indicator of economic growth. The study is based on weekly sales from over 20,000 restaurant units representing more than $45 billion in annual revenue.

This has been the best third quarter for same-store sales since the first quarter of 2012. Victor Fernandez, executive director of insights and knowledge for TDn2K, parent company of Black Box Intelligence and People Report commented on the positive same-store sales for the second consecutive quarter, “The industry is clearly going through its best period over the last couple of years, as consumer confidence, real disposable income, the labor market and overall economic growth improved during the third quarter.”

Experts predict another quarter of positive sales growth in the industry. Wally Doolin, chairman of TDn2K brings attention to the fact that in Q3, ” same-store sales improved by almost twice as much as traffic, which means that a significant part of the improvement in sales during the quarter came from an increase in average guest checks.” To read more about the main factors that will determine the industry’s performance during the next two quarters, click here



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