Food & Beverage

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Recently Awarded Michelin Star Shines Spotlight on Vegan Menus and Operations

Recently Awarded Michelin Star Shines Spotlight on Vegan Menus and Operations

by David Klemt

If there was any question that vegan restaurant concepts are viable, a recently awarded Michelin star has provided a firm and affirmative answer.

Michelin Guide France awarded ONA (Origine Non Animale or “Non-Animal Origin” in English) a Michelin star earlier this week. This marks the first time in the award’s history that a restaurant in France that uses no animal products received a star.

Chef and owner Claire Vallée opened ONA in the city of Arès in the southwest of France in 2016 leveraging a combination of crowdfunding a loan from La Nef, an ethical bank. It has been reported that volunteers helped to finish the project when funds ran out before construction had been completed.

The vegan diet has endured mockery for decades in the United States and Canada. It’s only in recent years that veganism has flourished, bolstered by a belief that the diet is healthier, more sustainable, and more ethical. Growing interest in plant-based diets have also no doubt boosted veganism.

In France, however, the vegan diet hasn’t been embraced as widely as it has throughout North America. Sifting through online searches, travel blogs and posts shows that, generally speaking, vegan options aren’t widely available throughout France’s rich and storied restaurant scene.

For ONA to win a Michelin star shows that attitudes toward the vegan diet in one of the gastronomy and culinary capitals of the world is undergoing a possibly seismic shift.

A number of chefs have returned their Michelin stars or requested their restaurants not be considered for the accolade. For now, however, Michelin stars still recognize outstanding food and operations.

The awarding of a star to ONA is a significant achievement for Chef Vallée and her team.

Image: Jo Sonn on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Delivery and Takeout Food Trends for 2021: United States

Delivery and Takeout Food Trends for 2021: United States

by David Klemt

Yesterday we reviewed food delivery data and 2021 food trend predictions for Canada. Now it’s the United States’ turn.

Before we jump into the data and predictions, a word on succeeding with delivery in 2021 and beyond.

As I pointed out yesterday, when an operator signs up with a third-party delivery service, their guest data becomes the delivery company’s data.

That means that company and not the restaurant or bar owns the guest journey and guest engagement, and therefore owns the guest for all intents and purposes.

When a restaurant, bar or other F&B business enters into a contract with a third-party delivery company—unless otherwise explicitly stated—they give up control of targeted marketing efforts. In other words, third-party delivery platforms disrupt the guest journey.

Delivery became a way for many businesses to generate revenue during 2020, for obvious reasons. Operators who can afford to implement first-part and last-mile delivery should do so to maximize their revenue and control the guest journey and marketing.

To help operators own delivery, we’ve reviewed end-of-year reports from three delivery titans—UberEats, Grubhub and DoorDash—to share their 2020 findings. When it comes to the most ordered items, cuisines and categories, some third-party platforms are willing to share data.

According to UberEats, comfort foods were the most popular category:

  • Burgers and fries
  • Burritos
  • Pad Thai
  • Mac and cheese
  • California rolls
  • Chicken Tikka Masala
  • Miso soup
  • Mozzarella sticks

Per the platform, the following cuisines proved most popular:

  • American
  • Italian
  • Mexican
  • Chinese
  • Japanese
  • Thai
  • Indian
  • French
  • Caribbean
  • Greek

As UberEats stated in their report, it appears that customers found a way to travel after all—they just did it through food.

Pizza, bagels, wings, tacos, burgers and dumplings led the way for Grubhub in 2020. The most popular pizza order was Hawaiian (because some people are monsters and put pineapple on their pies), while the most popular burger was garlic mushroom. Grubhub revealed that their top French fry was the loaded curly fry, and the most popular plant-based item was the eggplant burger.

In descending order, the top F&B Grubhub orders overall from 2020 were:

  • Spicy chicken sandwich
  • Chicken burrito bowl
  • Chicken wings
  • Waffle fries
  • Cold brew coffee
  • Steak quesadilla
  • Iced latte
  • Fish and chips
  • Strawberry shake
  • Roast beef sandwich

Per Grubhub, the top breakfast item was the acai bowl, the top side dish was French fries, the number-one late-night order was strawberry cheesecake, and the most ordered dessert was apple pie.

Moving on to DoorDash, the platform identified their top ten 2020 items back in November:

  • Chicken fingers and French fries
  • Fried chicken sandwich
  • Mac and cheese
  • Chips and guacamole
  • Apple pie
  • Pad Thai
  • Chicken quesadilla
  • Iced coffee
  • California roll
  • Chicken Tikka Masala

The UberEats, Grubhub and DoorDash revelations align with data collected by the National Restaurant Association between November and December of 2020. Per the NRA, the following were the top items sold by full-service casual, family and fine-dining restaurants:

  • Burgers
  • Seafood
  • Pizza
  • Steak
  • Chicken (excluding chicken wings)
  • Breakfast items
  • Pasta
  • Mexican food
  • Sandwiches, subs and wraps
  • Chicken wings

According to the NRA, the items below were the most popular for limited-service restaurants (fast casual, quick-service, coffee and snack):

  • Sandwiches, subs and wraps
  • Pizza
  • Burgers
  • Chicken (excluding chicken wings)
  • Ice cream, cookies and cakes
  • Baked goods
  • Breakfast items
  • Mexican food
  • BBQ items
  • Seafood

For 2021, DoorDash predicted the following items to see a lift:

  • Sausage, egg and cheese on a biscuit
  • Create your own omelettes
  • Carrot cake
  • Cinnamon roll
  • Caramel latte
  • Chocolate brownies
  • Black coffee
  • Donuts
  • Blueberry muffin
  • Biscuits

DoorDash revealed that Mexican, Chinese and Tex-Mex were the top cuisines ordered via the platform. The company also predicted five cuisines would be popular in 2021:

  • Taiwanese
  • French
  • Filipino
  • Australian
  • Moroccan

When it comes to 2021, multiple sources have named vegetarian, vegan, plant-based, and health and wellness items as the foods to watch. Even this early into the year it’s not exactly a controversial statement to say that all of those categories are going to perform well in 2021.

According to DoorDash, nearly half of Americans (47 percent) plan to consume more plant-based items. Whether it’s truly healthier than its traditional counterparts, plant-based is perceived that way. In total, per DoorDash, 72 percent of Americans plan to make a concerted effort to eat healthier in 2021. This is likely due to an increased interest in boosting immune systems due to Covid-19.

Put another way, operators will likely struggle if they don’t add vegan, vegetarian, and plant-based foods to their streamlined menus, another trend expected to continue through 2021.

Predictions from the Specialty Food Association in particular caught our attention. For 2021, the association has predicted spices and herbs native to West Africa (Senegal, for example) will be in demand. Scandinavian and Cambodian flavors are also expected to perform well, as are Latin American and Southeast Asian items.

Due to interest in tahini sauce and black sesame, the SFA expects halva, which is a Middle Eastern confection, to get plenty of attention. The SFA and Datassential both named fermented honey as an item to watch in 2021.

Along with vegan and plant-based items, creative meal kits are expected to perform well. Restaurants and bars will continue to face restrictions and indoor dining bans over the course of at least the next few months. Creative meal kits will get the attention of customers who have grown tired of preparing the same meals over and over.

Whether an operator chooses to stick with their current menu or embrace one or more food trends, they should look into first-party or last-mile delivery. It’s imperative that operators own their guest journey and marketing efforts.

For more information about first-party and last-mile delivery, please listen to Bar Hacks episode 13 with “Rev” Ciancio, an advocate of keeping delivery and data in-house.

Image: Robert Anasch on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Delivery and Takeout Food Trends for 2021: Canada

Delivery and Takeout Food Trends for 2021: Canada

by David Klemt

Patrons, analysts and experts have spoken: delivery and takeout will remain standards in the new era of hospitality.

Analysts and experts have spoken with data, and consumers have spoken with their dollars.

But there’s another consequential voice that matters when it comes to delivery: that of the operator.

There’s no denying that the operator is shoved aside in the third-party delivery relationship. At the very least, that’s the overwhelming perception. Once an operator signs on with such a service, their guest data becomes the delivery company’s data.

Whatever company owns the data owns the guest, their journey and engagement, and the targeted marketing efforts. That means a restaurant or bar’s guests receive offers and promotions for their competitors.

In short, third-party delivery platforms disrupt the guest journey.

However, there are some data the third-party delivery services do share. As we saw midway through 2020, for example, Uber Eats and Grubhub released the top orders and other useful information in publicly available reports. Some of the services also release end-of-year or year-in-review reports, as SkipTheDishes did for Canada.

Most of these reports are laser-focused on the United States. That’s logical given the number of bars, restaurants and other hospitality businesses to which Grubhub, Uber Eats, Postmates, Instacart, Seamless and other services have access.

SkipTheDishes, for the Americans reading this, is the Grubhub of Canada. For the Canadians reading, below are SkipTheDishes’ data regarding top orders, cuisine, and demographics in 2020:

  • Top Cuisines: Chinese, Italian, American/Canadian
  • Top Orders (General): Asian dishes, pizza, burgers
  • Top Orders by Item: Chicken sandwiches (also the top item in 2020 in the US), burgers, and French fries (mid-year data)
  • Top Vegan Provinces: Manitoba, Saskatchewan, British Columbia
  • Top Organic Provinces: British Columbia, Ontario, Alberta
  • Top Gluten-free Provinces: Manitoba, Alberta, The Maritimes
  • Top Dairy-free Provinces: British Columbia, Alberta, The Maritimes
  • Top Kosher Provinces: Alberta, Ontario, Saskatchewan
  • Top Dayparts: 5:00 PM was the most popular order time, and late afternoon (3:00-4:00 PM) and weekdays saw lifts. Late-night ordering (9:00 PM and beyond) slowed. (Mid-year data.)
  • Top Pre-order Daypart: 5:00 PM. More Canadians got into the habit of pre-ordering their dinners. (Mid-year data.)
  • Fastest-growing Segment by Age Group: 65+
  • Most Revealing Datum: 81% of customers ordered from restaurants they’d never visited in person.

That was last year. What’s in store for Canada this year? A scan of a few sources—Food Network Canada, Restaurants Canada, and Chatelaine—offers some valuable insights.

Plant-based items and foods recognized for boosting a person’s immune system are expected to be popular. The pandemic has given many consumers a reason to reevaluate what they’re putting into their bodies. All three sources predict people will be interested in and order plant-based foods and focus on health and wellness.

Both Food Network Canada and Chatelaine predicted chickpeas—an inexpensive, versatile and plant-based protein source—will be among the top food items sought out by restaurant guests (in-person) and customers (takeout, delivery). Most operators should be able to adapt and get creative to add chickpea-based items to their menus. The two sources also predicted that snacking will replace meals (at least occasionally), so snackable items and sides may take off this year.

Food Network Canada pointed to sauerkraut as an example of a health and wellness food item that may see a boost in popularity and demand due to its probiotic and gut health properties. The source also predicted that coffee and coffee-based F&B items will get a lift in 2021.

Restaurants Canada predicted that comfort food, popular throughout 2020, will remain in high demand. However, 2021 will bring in an interest in elevated riffs on comfort food classics. Citing specific examples, Restaurants Canada suggested Pad Thai French fries and Pulled Pork Mac and Cheese. The Canadian food industry association predicted that interest in and support of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) cuisine, flavors and businesses will continue through 2021.

All three sources listed plant jerky as food item to watch in 2021.

What else should be in store for this year? Operators embracing first-party or so-called “last-mile” delivery to grab their share of the orders of this year’s trendy food items. Platforms such as Lunchbox, Olo, ChowNow can provide operators with the ability to own delivery and therefore the entire guest journey in the new era of hospitality. It’s likely an operator’s current POS can be updated to “unlock” in-house delivery, which would then need to be supported by a delivery menu, delivery supplies, and staff training.

For more information about first-party and last-mile delivery, please listen to Bar Hacks episode 13 with “Rev” Ciancio, an advocate of keeping delivery and data in-house.

Image: Norma Mortenson from Pexels

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Tobin Ellis and Barmagic’s Relief Dashboard Contains Hundreds of Restaurant and Bar Resources

Tobin Ellis and Barmagic’s Relief Dashboard Contains Hundreds of Restaurant and Bar Resources

by David Klemt

In keeping with this week’s focus on good news, KRG Hospitality would like to shine a light on Barmagic’s Bar & Restaurant Revival Guide.

First, some background.

Tobin Ellis founded Barmagic of Las Vegas in 1997. He’s done so much for the hospitality industry that it feels almost criminal to just attach a few labels to describe him, but here we are.

Ellis is a hospitality industry innovator, advocate, designer, marketer and consultant. Anyone who has ever attended an hospitality trade show and sat in on a presentation, panel or Q&A session featuring him knows he’s passionate, quick-witted, real-world solution-oriented, and doesn’t suffer pretenders lightly.

He’s also more than put in the work to for the recognition he deserves as an industry icon. Ellis has been in the trenches for decades, beginning his hospitality journey washing dishes in upstate New York. He has worked around the world in essentially every type of venue, from sleepy dives to hyperkinetic high-volume cocktail bars, and everything in between.

A few years back, Perlick partnered with Ellis to create the Tobin Ellis Signature Cocktail Station. This innovative hardware was designed with ergonomics in mind, focusing on improving bar team member’s physical comfort and safety.

Since restaurants and bars found themselves fully in the devastating and nearly inescapable grip of the pandemic, Ellis has focused on the health and longevity of the industry as a whole.

To help operators navigate the pandemic and the myriad challenges (again, a criminal label for what operators and workers have been facing for almost 12 months) it continues to present, Ellis added a Hospitality Relief dashboard to the Barmagic website.

Visitors will find hundreds of links for US- and Canada-based resources, including a relief map for those who need aid or who want to donate to relief efforts. There’s also a link to the Barmagic Bar & Restaurant Revival Guide, a 96-page download loaded with information and ideas that Ellis hopes “might just spark a thought or two” in the minds of restaurant and bar owners, operators, leaders and workers.

We’re not going to get through this if we don’t come together, save as many businesses as possible, and help new venues open and flourish. We applaud the Barmagic relief resources—more like this, please.


by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Athletic Brewing Co. Proves Viability of Alcohol-free Beer

Athletic Brewing Co. Proves Viability of Alcohol-free Beer

by David Klemt

Doubters and detractors of non-alcoholic beer have only to look at Athletic Brewing Co. to understand the category has a long, bright future ahead of it.

Athletic Brewing opened its first taproom in Stratford, CT, back in May of 2018. A month later, the non-alcoholic brewer signed on with a distributor to launch two of their flagship beers statewide. Two years after that milestone was reached, Athletic took over a 100,000-barrel capacity facility in San Diego once owned by Ballast Point.

That would be impressive growth for any brewer, traditional or non-alcoholic. But there’s another element that really highlights the explosive growth and potential of Athletic: investment rounds.

In August of 2017, Athletic raised $250,000 in seed funding. One year later, in September, the brewer raised $500,000 in another seed funding round. A third funding round resulted in $3,122,221 in December 2019. And then came March 2020: Athletic raised $17,500,000 in Series B funding.

According to a report written by Kate Krader and published earlier this week by Bloomberg, some of Athletic’s investors are celebrities, something that had remained quiet for a few years now.

David Chang, the founder of Momofuku, NFL players Justin Tuck and JJ Watt, and Lance Armstrong are some of the celebrity backers identified by Krader as Athletic Brewing Co. backers. According to Crunchbase, Blake Mycoskie, founder of TOMS Shoes, participated in the 2020 Series B funding round.

That these investments remained under the radar shows that celebrities and other investors believe Athletic and the non-alcoholic beer category is here to stay.

We’ve grown accustomed to celebrity-backed spirits and wines. At least three celebs have scored massive paydays in spirits. George Clooney and Rande Gerber sold Casamigos to Diageo for $1 billion in 2017. Last year, Aviation Gin, owned by Ryan Reynolds, sold to Diageo for a deal worth up to $610 million.

Athletic is one of the brewers we showcased in our January 1 article “0.0 to 0.5 Beers to Know for Dry January and Beyond.” We shared some of Athletic’s story and how founder Bill Shufelt was motivated to fill a void in the market. Namely, refreshing and flavorful non-alcoholic craft beers.

Shufelt, like so many people who have chosen to live an alcohol-free lifestyle or reduce their alcohol intake, still enjoys going out to bars and restaurants to socialize. Athletic and other non-alcoholic brewers offer guests a drinking and dining experience without a sacrifice in quality.

I can clearly see an opportunity for people to invest in Athletic Brewing Co., Partake Brewing, WellBeing Brewing, Surreal Brewing Company, and others moving forward. It’s obvious that craft non-alcoholic beers have a future beyond Dry January, and it’s likely more talented brewers and celebrities will enter the category. In fact, 2021 may be the Year of NA Beer.

Image: Athletic Brewing Co.

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Serve Up a Slice of Nostalgia: Viennetta Returns

Have a Slice of Nostalgia: The Return of Viennetta

by David Klemt

A British confection launched in the ’80s is headed back to the United States.

Wall’s brought what’s considered by some the first-ever branded ice cream dessert—Viennetta—to the world almost 40 years ago. The British frozen dessert and ice cream producer, owned by Unilever, launched the legendary treat in 1982.

Viennetta is said to be based on a multi-layered pastry known as mille-feuille. The original Wall’s product consists of layers of vanilla ice cream and compound chocolate that create the dessert’s signature wavy top.

Viennetta ice cream dessert

While Viennetta was a product of Wall’s in Europe, it came to America under Unilever’s Breyers label. At one point in the ’90s, the product disappeared from the United States, though it maintained a presence throughout Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and elsewhere.

As an ’80s kid, I remember seeing Viennetta commercials late in the decade,  or perhaps I saw them in the early ’90s. Either way, the images of what passed for elegance and sophistication back then informed me that Viennetta must be a “fancy” dessert. I mean, c’mon—it was served on a silver platter!

Alas, I never had the opportunity to taste what I could only assume back then was an opulent dessert before it was so cruelly whisked out of the country. But that will change this year.

Unilever is bringing at least the original vanilla flavor back to the States in 2021 under their Good Humor brand. Back in the ’80s, Viennetta wasn’t available solely at supermarkets—it was also sold at KFCs and Pizza Huts. I’ve found no announcements from Unilever or Good Humor that Viennetta will be available through a partnership at any restaurants this year, but it would make sense.

Can you experience nostalgia if you’ve never actually owned, enjoyed or consumed a product in the past personally? Apparently the answer is yes, because when I saw Viennetta was returning to America my first thought was, “Finally—I’ll have my chance,” followed by a flood of images from my childhood and early teen years.

Should I be ashamed? Maybe. But I’m not. And I know I’m not alone. And I know something else: Operators looking to leverage nostalgia, particularly if they’re ’80s- or ’90s-themed or feature programming around those decades, should be excited about this news.

Image: Wikimedia Commons

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

These are the Drinking Trends to Watch in 2021

These are the Drinking Trends to Watch in 2021

by David Klemt

It was so much fun reviewing 2021 food trend predictions that we felt compelled to do the same for drinks.

We checked out, VinePair, Wine Enthusiast, SmartBrief and Forbes to see what they had to say about how and what people will be drinking in 2021. As we predicted, a number of the predictions were identical or at least similar, lending them even more weight.

Let’s get into the top trends for 2021!

To-Go Cocktails are Here to Stay

What was once a defining characteristic of partying in New Orleans and Las Vegas quickly became a necessity for operators throughout the United States. To-go drinks provided operators with a way to generate some revenue during the pandemic (to varying degrees of success, of course). VinePair and Wine Enthuisast have both predicted this trend will swing more toward a stand element of operations through at least 2021. Similarly, SmartBrief and VinePair predict that alcohol delivery also isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Also here to stay? Contactless/touchless menus. Guests have gotten used to them, and that’s unlikely to change.

When building out their cocktails-to-go menu sections, operators should consider another Wine Enthusiast trend prediction: the growth of low- and no-alcohol drinks. This trend has been growing for at least the past two years, so it’s worth noting and leveraging.

Cans, Hard Seltzer & RTDs Continue Their Rise

Canned wines, canned cocktails, hard lemonades, hard seltzers growing in the on-premise space… VinePair, Forbes, SmartBrief, and Wine Enthusiast all made similar predictions. Wine Enthusiast went a step further and more specifically suggested that the popularity of canned cocktails may be strongest in the first half of 2021. It stands to reason that what consumers make popular off-premise will be in demand on-premise sooner or later. Operators should probably assume they’ll be selling buckets of hard seltzers, hard lemonades and canned cocktails once people can resume dining and drinking in person like they did pre-pandemic.

Responsible, Ethical & Transparent Businesses are the Future

And the near future, at that. This shouldn’t come as a surprise—people vote with their dollars and today’s consumer wants to know they’re supporting restaurants, bars, hotels, resorts, and other businesses that align with their values. Wine Enthusiast and Forbes predict that consumers will seek out businesses that operate ethically and that brands, cognizant of this expectation, will work harder to be more sustainable and responsible.

Connection Becomes Even More Important

The statement that humans are social creatures by nature isn’t exactly a hot take—we all know this. Having been largely deprived of the ability to socialize, people are starving for interaction. SmartBrief predicts that consumers will look to connect more with the brands they support. This is largely down to people becoming accustomed to engaging with brands and people via Zoom and other platforms—they’re going to want to continue this engagement in person. Bars, restaurants and brands that have hosted tasting, cooking, home bartending and other events online should capitalize by hosting them in person when it becomes safe to do so.

Wine Enthusiast, in a similar fashion, predicts that people will be seeking out unique cocktail experiences, as does SmartBrief. Whereas VinePair predicts a return to classic cocktails, Wine Enthusiast thinks guests will seek out opportunities to try complex and esoteric drinks. Savvy operators may be able to save time and headaches by batching complex cocktails (at least in part), a trend predicts for 2021.

Operators can leverage the prediction that pop-up bars will grow in popularity this year. These types of experiences became more common in 2020 and bar and restaurant guests have spoken: they love them. Bar takeovers, partnerships with restaurants and food trucks… Operators have the chance to get creative with these events and attract guests craving new experiences.

Speaking of the importance of connection, fears the nation may lose a significant number of local distillers. The pandemic took a serious toll on distillers as tasting rooms were ordered to shutter or suffered from slow to no traffic due to the pandemic. This is an opportunity for operators and distillers: As consumers seek to connect with brands, operators can leverage the drive toward supporting local by featuring local distillers on their menus and back bars. It’s win-win-win.

Tiki is Out

This prediction speaks to responsible and ethical business practices and connection. Wine Enthusiast and, pointing to the colonialist roots of tiki culture and the appropriation Indigenous cultures. goes so far as to say tiki bars “are fast on their way to extinction,” using the example of Lost Lake in Chicago removing the word “tiki” from the bar’s lexicon. Instead, the words “tropical” and “nautical” are in favor, and the designs of such bars are eschewing the use of Indigenous images, symbols, stereotypes and language.

Honorable Mentions

Other predictions made by the publications and websites we reviewed ranged from the standard to the esoteric. For instance, Wine Enthusiast predicts that Cognac, tequila, mezcal and whiskey will continue their notable growth through 2021, with Irish whiskey in particular performing well while blended Scotch whiskey will be an exception. The publication also predicted, as at least on source does each year, that rum may finally have its moment in the United States.

Forbes thinks we’ll see rosé expressions of Champagne and Prosecco will have “a moment,” as will orange wines. predicts spirits will embrace and promote their individual terroir, and that “sophisticated” Jell-O shots will rise in popularity. The site, pointing to consumer concerns about health and safety, will reject shared cocktails like Scorpion Bowls for obvious reasons.

Two of the most unique predictions come from VinePair and SmartBrief. The former predicts more alcohol producers will make suspect health benefit claims, while the latter says we may see a demand for drinks infused with cannabis or psychedelic properties.

Image: Louis Hansel @shotsoflouis on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

0.0 to 0.5 Beers to Know for Dry January and Beyond

0.0 to 0.5 Beers to Know for Dry January and Beyond

by David Klemt

As consumers become more conscious of their drinking habits, alcohol-free beer options are becoming more appealing.

Interest in NA beers grows during Dry January, but shifting consumer habits show that it’s wise to offer alcohol-free options year-round.

Putting both quality non-alcohol and true-zero beers on your menu as part of everyday operations is just good business. Doing so makes guests who have given up alcohol permanently or temporarily will feel included and they’ll remember that your business offered them a complete and enjoyable experience.

Below are several options that will help you develop the NA portion of your menu thoughtfully, split into two categories: 0.5 or lower and true zero.

0.5 or Lower Beers

Mikkeller: The world-famous, revered Danish brewer prepared for Dry January by curating a bundle of five 0.0 to 0.3 beers. Mikkeller Limbo Riesling and Drink’in the Sun are 0.3, and Kinder Series Xtra Grapefruit, Weird Weather and Limbo Raspberry complete the five-pack.

BrewDog: The manifesto for this awesome brewer states that BrewDog is “determined to make a stand for independence, a stand for quality and stand for craft.” This extends to their alcohol-free beers. There are six BrewDog alcohol-free beers, one of which, Ghost Walker, is a collaboration with metal band Lamb of God.

Partake Brewing: Founder and CEO Ted Fleming created Partake Brewing in response to the lack of quality, drinkable alcohol-free beers on the market. Fleming gave up alcohol more than ten years ago but missed drinking a good beer. The Canadian craft brewer has been making inroads into the United States, providing Americans with a high-quality NA beer choice. There are five styles in the Partake Brewing portfolio: Blonde, Pale, IPA, Red, and Stout.

Athletic Brewing Co.: Bill Shufelt, the founder of Athletic Brewing, explains on the Connecticut company’s website that he chose to lead an alcohol-free lifestyle but still enjoyed going out to bars and restaurants. What he didn’t enjoy were the subpar alcohol-free beers that were the only options at most places he visited. So, he filled that void with Athletic Brewing, which currently offers six non-alcohol brews.

Surreal Brewing Company: Husband and wife team Tammer Zein-El-Abedein and Donna Hockey, who live an alcohol-free lifestyle, felt excluded by the lack of quality beer choices available. So, they did something about it: they created their own craft NA beer company operating in California. There are currently seven brews in the Surreal Brewing Company portfolio: Natural Bridges Kolsch, Creatives IPA, Juicy Mavs Hazy IPA, Milkshake IPA, Chandelier Red IPA, 17 Mile Porter, and Pastry Porter.

WellBeing Brewing: This Missouri-based brewer has a singular focus—brewing craft alcohol-free beer. Founder Jeff Stevens, similar to other founders and CEOs of brewers who gave up drinking alcohol, still liked going out to bars and live-music venues. He also ran into a similar problem: NA beers that didn’t offer an enjoyable experience. WellBeing Brewing currently offers five non-alcohol beers, three of which are vegan and therefore work for Veganuary: Heavenly Body Golden Wheat, Hellraiser Dark Amber, and WellBeing Victory Wheat Sports Brew (with electrolytes). Intentional IPA and Intrepid Traveler Coffee Cream Stout round out the portfolio.

Clausthaler: German brewer Clausthaler claims the title of most-awarded non-alcohol beer brewer. Clausthaler offers five alcohol-free options that taste, smell and look like beer: Original, Unfiltered, Dry Hopped, Lemon, and Grapefruit.

Lagunitas IPNA: A 0.5 beer, Lagunitas IPNA is brewed with Citra, Mosaic & CTZ (Columbus, Tomahawk, Zeus) hops so the alcohol-free offering is still as hoppy and full-bodied as its traditional counterparts.

Coors: Launched toward the end of 2019, Coors Edge replaced Coors Non-alcoholic and is intended to taste like Coors Banquet.

0.0 Beers

Budweiser 0.0: Brewed with two-row and six-row barley malt, Budweiser Zero achieves true zero-alcohol status and weighs in at just 50 calories and 11.5 grams of carbs.

Heineken 0.0: It took years, according to Heineken, to get the recipe for Heineken 0.0 just right, which uses the brewer’s famous A-Yeast.

Bitburger Drive: A completely alcohol-free brew from a brewer that adheres German Beer Purity Laws, Bitburger Drive is 0.0 pilsner.

Image: Alex Knight from Pexels

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Dry January Will Be Different in 2021

Dry January Will Be Different in 2021

by David Klemt

Tomorrow marks the start of the first Dry January we’ve ever experienced under stay-at-home shutdowns and bar, restaurant and nightclub restrictions.

Like Veganuary—remember way back to yesterday when we wrote about it?—the movement as we’ve come to know can be traced back to the UK. People have chosen t abstain from alcohol in January for decades but Dry January really took off after the trademark was registered by a non-profit called Alcohol Change.

Understandably, many operators have taken issue with Dry January. Taking a hit to the bottom line for a month (or more) because of a reduction in alcohol sales isn’t an exciting proposition.

However, Dry January may be different this year. The convergence of a number of consumer behaviors driven by restricted access to restaurants and bars may present an opportunity.

Throughout most of 2020 we’ve been inundated with reports about unprecedented boosts in online alcohol sales. Premium and ultra-premium spirits grew at a faster rate than they had pre-pandemic. Operators have been forced to pivot, relying heavily on delivery, (somewhat) traditional takeout, and curbside pickup.

Put those all together but substitute premium spirits for premium alcohol-free options and there’s the potential for operators to generate revenue directly linked to zero-proof sales.

One of the keys to succeeding with zero-ABV drinks is presentation. Many alcohol-free brands are dedicated to elevating the category, meaning they can be treated the same as their low- and full-proof counterparts. Curated zero-proof drink kits that include quality modifiers, mixers, garnishes and drinkware can help generate sales. Post quick how-to videos to social media showing a member of the bar team building zero-proof cocktails to create interest.

Those are just two ideas. It shouldn’t be difficult for operators to pivot and offer alcohol-free options that are authentic to their brand and therefore resonate with their guests.

Operators that nail their Dry January menu programming lay the groundwork for succeeding with the alcohol-free category throughout the rest of the year. We finally live in an age where sober, sober-curious and intermittently abstinent consumers don’t feel uncomfortable visiting a bar. Make them feel welcome. Operators who alienate these guests will drive them straight to their competitors to ring their registers instead.

Seedlip is probably the best-known within the alcohol-free category but more premium brands are emerging. Operators should familiarize themselves with the following: Lyre’s (which crafts zero-proof spirits that taste like their traditional counterparts), Wilderton (which uses a distillation method that never introduces alcohol), and Shoki (which showcases African and Caribbean heritage and flavors). There are also brewers embracing the alcohol-free movement, such as Calgary’s Partake Brewing (which is beginning to cross into the US) and Lagunitas and their IPNA, an alcohol-free IPA.

Image: YesMore Content on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

The 2021 Food Trends to Know for Veganuary

The 2021 Food Trends to Know for Veganuary

by David Klemt

Strange or even inappropriate as it may seem, it’s time to review food trend data and predictions because we’re hurtling toward 2021.

January also plays host to two monthlong traditions that impact F&B operations: Dry January and Veganuary. For this post, we’re focusing on the latter.

Veganuary may not have claimed “tradition” status just yet, to be honest, but it appears to be well on its way. The movement began in the United Kingdom in 2014 as a social and eco-friendly campaign intended to make the transition to adopting a vegan diet as easy as possible.

The movement has been growing each year with 2018 through 2020 seeing the biggest increases in participation. In 2017, a reported 50,000 people had signed up for Veganuary. That number jumped to a reported 170,000 in 2018; 250,000 in 2019; and 400,000 in 2020. According to the Veganuary campaign, 2020’s participation represented more than one million animal lives and the CO2 equivalent of 450,000 flights.

“Research shows that health is a significant driver for so many people going vegan, especially American consumers. But the reasons to test this lifestyle and decrease consumption of animal-based products are countless, from improving health, to reducing animal suffering, and helping to preserve the planet,” said Veganuary CEO Simon Winch in 2018. “Research shows that not only are there more people curious about going vegan, but more people are sticking with the lifestyle after taking part in Veganuary, which is great news! We are thrilled with the enthusiasm and growing response from Americans taking the pledge and will continue to do our part in making it as easy as possible to try vegan, for as many people as possible.”

Participants sign up for free and are challenged to stick to a vegan diet for the entirety of January. While Covid-19 vaccines have been approved, they’re not widely available to the general public. Many markets are still restricted to outdoor dining, delivery and pickup. It’s important that operators stay current with food and consumer behavior trends to remain top of mind and continue generating revenue.

We reviewed multiple sources to find common vegan-friendly food trends for operators to leverage when programming their 2021 menus.

Plant-based (Datassential, Delish)

One big difference between plant-based and vegan is that the latter’s focus on moral and ethical reasons for choosing the diet. Regardless, plant-based is expected to grow in popularity and therefore demand across the globe.

Tofu (Food & Wine, Whole Foods Market)

The great thing about tofu, a sentence I never thought I’d type, is that the back of house can get as creative as they want with it. Tofu “scrambles” (no eggs, just peppers, onions and sweet potato cubes), fishless tacos (breaded and brined tofu), and spaghetti with tofu riffs elevate this ingredient.

Mushrooms (Food & Wine, Whole Foods Market)

Portobello mushrooms, for example, are more than capable of starring in an array of dishes, replacing animal proteins rather easily. There’s also the fact that mushrooms are being used to make to-go packaging, giving eco-minded guests another reason to support a particular restaurant.

Chickpeas (Whole Foods Market, Martha

“You can chickpea anything,” says Whole Foods Market. In fact, they claim it’s the cauliflower, taking several forms, like pasta and flour.

Hyper-local (Food & Wine,, The New York Times)

The push for restaurants to source ingredients locally and highlight them on their menus isn’t expected to slow. These publications and more are recognizing supporting local as a “trend” (it’s more a movement at this point) that will get stronger in 2021.

Meal kits (Food & Wine, Delish,, The New York Times)

These, as several publications have stated, are here to stay. Consumers got used to these when subscription services exploded in popularity. Some restaurants offered them pre-pandemic as a response to the meal-kit subscription craze, and they’ve become more prevalent since Covid-19 ripped apart the world. They’re a hit with consumers, so operators should consider vegan-friendly meal kits during Veganuary.

Home cooking classes (Datassential, Whole Foods Market, Delish)

Many of us probably feel like our entire lives are one big Zoom meeting at this point. Well, that’s not expected to change any time soon. A great way to connect with guests staying at home is to host cooking classes—with a focus on vegan cooking in January—and follow up with curated meal kits.

Datassential also identified baby carrots and ramen among their 2021 food trend predictions (and both are vegan-friendly), and carob, chicory root, “future” produce (specialty produce varities), and honeysuckle as flavor trends to follow next year.

Two trends that are not considered vegan? Avocados and fermented honey because the reliance on bees to produce and cultivate both are considered “exploitation” by vegans. Remember the moral and ethical difference between vegan and plant-based from above? There you go.

Image: Anh Nguyen on Unsplash