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This Year’s Big Trend: Moderation

This Year’s Big Trend: Moderation

by David Klemt

Two drinks in mason jars

Beverage-top media platform Ripples is reporting 2022’s big drink trend, focusing heavily on Gen Z imbibing habits.

The unique company produces devices that make it possible to print images atop drinks. With beverages of all types as their focus, the company is a great position to study drink trends.

Interestingly, Ripples focuses primarily on Gen Z drinking habits. However, the company’s data identifies an intriguing trend that transcends a single generation.

Let’s jump in.

Zero-proof Beverage Growth

At KRG Hospitality, we appreciate numbers; we’re a data-driven agency. Well, amongst all the stats Ripples latest findings reveal, two are massive.

First, in comparison to 2019, zero-alcohol products are up 166 percent. Second, the non-alcohol category is growing four times faster than its low-ABV counterpart.

Another impressive number? Non-alcohol spirits have grown by over 113 percent since 2020.

Per Ripples, Gen Z is driving the growth in the no-alcohol space. According to the beverage-tech company, this is likely due to social media presence.

I’m sure you read articles at least from time to time about Gen Z social media habits. Those written by their older counterparts make it seem like Gen Z doesn’t understand the risks of recording their every action.

Well, it’s highly likely that much of Gen Z would rather not have their drunken shenanigans on display on every social platform.

Values Drive Purchase Decisions

Beyond risk aversion, Ripples identifies values as key to Gen Z purchase and consumption decisions.

Generally speaking, members of Gen Z value transparency and authenticity. Brands that share those values are more likely to succeed with Gen Z.

And, again, speaking broadly, smaller, independent brands are often perceived as more transparent, authentic, and responsible. Large, mainstream brands are often seen as anything but green and responsible, never mind transparent or authentic.

Ripples posits that small indies aren’t encountering daunting barriers to entry. So, small-batch, craft non-alcohol brands are apt to find Gen Z support.

Craft sodas, RTDs offering health benefits, and zero-proof cocktails in cans or bottles are flooding the market. And they’re finding success. In fact, according to Ripples, RTD sales are up 400 percent on Drizly since 2019.

The Big Trend

If you’re a listener of our Bar Hacks podcast you’ve likely heard our episodes with David Allison. If you haven’t heard them, they’re episode 46 and episode 67.

As the founder of the Valuegraphics Project, Allison isn’t a fan of focusing on demographic stereotypes. Instead, he recommends a focus on values in conjunction with demographic and psychographic data.

In part, the Valuegraphics Project approach encourages business owners and operators to identify and target their customers’ values. This is, according to Allison, far more powerful than focusing on age and sex. As important is the fact that demographics tend to divide us, and stereotypes are dangerous.

So, he and the Valuegraphics Project team probably wouldn’t like all the focus on a single generation in this article and Ripples’ findings. Well, there’s some good news and it pertains to what’s likely this year’s biggest drinking trend.

Across all generations, one drinking trend is common: Moderation. An interest in no- and low-alcohol beverages is shared among all generations.

In fact, according to Ripples, 78 percent of consumers purchasing zero-proof drinks aren’t doing so exclusively. These consumers are still buying they’re favorite full-alcohol beverages.

Takeaway

Leveraging the moderation trend is fairly simple. The growth of all zero-proof categories means operators can succeed with alcohol-free spirits, beer, and wine.

RTD cocktails—full-, low- and zero-proof—are selling very well and work in restaurants and bars.

In short, ensure you have low-ABV and zero-alcohol versions of your full-ABV drinks on your menu. Include these in a dedicated non-alcohol section.

Operators don’t need to be afraid of guests drinking more moderately. The stereotype that guests who choose zero- or low-proof drinks are bad for the bottom line simply isn’t true.

Image: Chris Curry on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Eatertainment Poised to Come Roaring Back

Eatertainment Poised to Come Roaring Back

by David Klemt

Two women playing cornhole

People are eager to return bars and restaurants, and that focus is beneficial to the growth of one hospitality category in particular: Eatertainment.

As the name suggests, an “eatertainment” venue operates as both an entertainment space and restaurant.

Those who have been to such a concept know the key elements that define eatertainment. A robust F&B program; an array of bar games and other entertainment; room enough to play games and attract groups, but so large it draws massive crowds; and an interest in extending guest stays rather than constantly turning and burning.

Pre-pandemic, the eatertainment category was heating up, steadily growing in popularity. As recently as 2019, SevenRooms and YouGov partnered to study these concepts. When your category draws the attention of data-focused platforms and research firms, you know it’s a winner.

So, what did SevenRooms and their research partner conclude? That eatertainment venues are the new nightclub.

Eatertainment Muscles in on Nightlife

Per the SevenRooms report from 2019, nightlife preferences in the United States were shifting away from traditional nightclubs. This switch was, according to SevenRooms, partially driven by three factors:

  • Nightclubs draw large crowds;
  • they play very loud music; and
  • such venues embrace exclusivity.

Now, that isn’t to say that the nightclub is dead. Particularly in destination cities like Las Vegas and Miami, nightclubs are a major draw.

However, as people reach their thirties or seek out more casual spaces, eatertainment becomes increasingly attractive. For the most part, people can leave work and go straight to an eatertainment concept to meet up with friends. They’ll be able to carve out a space, grab a bite and a drink, and socialize while engaging with an array of entertainment options.

Such venues also tend to be open seven days per week, from noon or early afternoon into late night. Their F&B programs, focus on entertainment, and hours of operation position them to play an important role: the third place.

Home Away from Home

As any dive or neighborhood bar operator knows, becoming a person’s third place is crucial. The third place, for those unfamiliar with the term, is the spot you go to in between the workplace and home.

So, becoming someone’s home away from home is a big deal. It’s the ultimate in consumer loyalty. Become someone’s third place and you’ll be on your way to building an army of brand advocates.

The third place is where we unwind after work. We’re friendly with the staff: they know us, know our usual orders, and know what recommendations to make.

Now, what if a regular’s third place offered not just quality F&B but also entertainment and an atmosphere that shifted with dayparts? You’d have a supercharged third place, a.k.a. an eatertainment concept.

Eatertainment will Continue to Grow

Where should people go when they decide they’re beyond their nightclub years? Feeling uncomfortable in a nightclub doesn’t mean the interest in nightlife simply disappears.

Well, they turn to eatertainment. And why do they find these concepts appealing? For several important reasons driven by shifts in consumer behavior.

One, I think we’re all tired of endless text and DM exchanges attempting to organize an outing. An eatertainment venue is a restaurant, bar, entertainment space, and nightclub in one place. No more planning to travel to a restaurant, then a bar for drinks afterward, and then a nightclub, concert, or lounge.

Two, today’s consumer is seeking out restaurants and bars that offer more inclusive, more welcoming, more personalized experiences. Again, eatertainment hits all those marks.

According to SevenRooms, there are key datapoints that indicate eatertainment will continue to grow. And while their report was published in 2019, their findings are still relevant given the past two years:

  • Around a quarter of Americans want more eatertainment venues close to them.
  • A quarter of Americans prefer a venue that combines quality food and drinks with fun activities in one space.
  • Nearly 30 percent of Americans consider food quality when deciding where to spend their time and money.
  • Close to 20 percent want a venue to offer something to do beyond drinking.

More recently, May of this year, in fact, Datassential also found that eatertainment is on the rise again. Per their data, half of consumers “are very interested in revisiting an eatertainment experience.

Takeaway

Eatertainment concepts are positioned to perform well moving forward.

Think about it: people are eager to socialize without being packed together; guests are showing interest in innovative, high-quality F&B items; people want entertainment that spans live music and DJs to cornhole (or bags, if you want to have that argument), axe throwing, and arcade games; and having access to an incredible, personalized experience in one venue is an attractive prospect.

Punch Bowl Social, Topgolf, Pinstripes, and Flight Club are among the best representatives of the category. Do you have the idea for the next big eatertainment brand? Let us know!

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Back of House Report: The Labor Challenge

Back of House Report: The Labor Challenge

by David Klemt

Employees wearing black staff T-shirts

A recent report from Back of House reveals opportunities for operators amidst the current staffing challenge.

In their report, the restaurant technology platform suggests effective hiring and retention solutions. For example, helping staff find meaning in their work.

To download and access the report in its entirety, please visit BackOfHouse.io.

For some of the platform’s insights into staffing, keep reading.

Why People Leave the Industry

Obviously, people take jobs for a variety of reasons. Often, a person’s first job has one or two motivations: money and/or experience.

Some estimates put a gig in the restaurant industry as the first job for a third of Americans. In Canada, restaurants are the top employers for those under 25 years of age.

However, Back of House sees value in looking at a different metric: Why people leave the industry.

As Back of House states, knowing why someone would leave their job helps an operator determine what benefits to offer to retain talent.

Now, it may be tempting to assume pay is the top reason people leave jobs. Per Back of House, however that’s not the case. Broken down by age group, below you’ll find the reasons people are leaving hospitality:

  • Pay: 26 to 35
  • Schedule: 46 to 55
  • Lack of opportunities: 26 to 35
  • Lack of benefits: 26 to 35
  • Work environment: 18 to 25

Look at these issues through the lens of someone moving through life. When first entering the workforce, more people want to find the right employer and workplace. From their twenties to thirties, more concern is placed on moving up, making more money, and receiving benefits. And, per Back of House’s findings, time becomes more of a consideration as people age.

Meaning and Value

Per Back of House, there are two important elements of employment that keep people engaged.

One, meaning in the work they do. In other words, feeling that their work has value. Two, staff want to feel that they’re employers value them.

Of course, both make sense, no? If a person doesn’t see their role in the industry as valuable, they’ll always be looking for the escape hatch. And if they feel that they’re employer doesn’t value them, why would they continue working for them? People, as they say, quit bosses, not jobs.

So, Back of House recommends that operators demonstrate they value their team members by:

  • investing in their staff;
  • supporting their staff; and
  • respecting their staff.

Now, good leaders should already do all of the above. It should go without saying but if someone feels a lack of respect, support, and interest from their employer, they’re not going to remain in their role for long.

And who could blame them? That seems like a terrible workplace and a waste of a hospitality professional’s valuable time. Time, of course, that can be better spent finding a good leader to work for who will help them progress in their career.

There are further insights one can glean from Back of House’s report. To download “Understanding the Staffing Challenge,” please click here.

Disclaimer: Neither KRG Hospitality nor its representatives received compensation to promote this report. The team at KRG simply feels all operators will find value in downloading and reading it, and considering the information contained therein.

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Forward Progress: Trends by Venue Type

Forward Progress: Trends by Venue Type

by David Klemt

High contrast image of blue cocktail with lemon zest

One notable difficulty with considering new trends is that they’re not all necessarily a universal fit for all venue types.

For example, what may work well in an upscale restaurant perhaps won’t perform as well in a sports bar. Pursuing a trend that isn’t a good fit, obviously.

As any operator with experience knows, chasing fads and trends just to chase them can be costly. Doing so costs money (inventory, training, labor hours) and time deserving of better allocation.

However, failing to embrace any trends can also be costly. Watching a lucrative trend pass by can cost an operator guest engagement, perception, and traffic.

Take, for instance, the success of White Claw. Plenty of operators and consumers scoffed at the hard seltzer category as a whole at first.

Then, some people decided it was a drink category “for women.” As it exploded in popularity, hard seltzers proved immensely popular with men.

Basically, it’s an incredibly strong beverage alcohol category that resonates with a wide range of consumers. On some menus, hard seltzers are listed alongside beers.

So, hard seltzer, led largely by White Claw, showed itself to be a worthwhile trend to adopt.

Clearly, however, hard seltzer doesn’t resonate with all guests on all occasions in all types of hospitality venue types. For instance, generally speaking, a bucket of White Claws likely to be a top seller in a high-end restaurant specializing in seven- to nine-course meals.

Drink Trends by Venue

During Bar & Restaurant Expo in March of this year, Amanda Torgerson of Datassential presented 2022 drink trends operators should know.

One trend has essentially proliferated the industry. Really, it’s likely wise for us to all view this trend—hard seltzer—as mainstream now.

In the context of Torgerson’s presentation, Datassential is saying that hard seltzers are here to stay.

Among other trends, Torgerson shared Datassential’s data-backed view of drink trends segmented by venue category.

While every venue is unique and not every trend will work for every bar or restaurant in a given category, the results are no less intriguing.

Pubs: Dry-hopped beers, pastry stouts, and hard or spiked coffee.

Sports Bars: Mini-beers, hard seltzer, and reusable growlers.

Casual Bars: Seltzers with unique flavors, hard tea, hard lemonade, and drinks featuring local ingredients.

Upscale Bars: Negroni, wine-barrel-aged spirits, and flaming cocktails.

Nightclubs: Hard seltzers served with spirits, cocktails and punch bowls served with dry ice, and flaming cocktails.

Casual Restaurants: Wine cocktails, elevated brunch cocktails, and tea-based alcohol beverages.

Upscale Restaurants: Flaming cocktails (smoked may be better), all-natural wines, and made-to-order cocktail cart presentations.

Hotels, Resorts and Casinos: Made-to-order cocktail carts, alcohol vending machines, and drinks made with cold-pressed juices.

Interestingly, a few of the above trends identified by Datassential appear in multiple venue types.

The main things for an operator to keep in mind is what will resonate with their guests and what’s authentic to their brand. When it comes to trends, one size doesn’t fit all and an individual venue’s mileage will vary.

However, the above list should at least show operators what Datassential sees resonating with guests in an array of venues.

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Forward Progress: 2022 Drink Trends

Forward Progress: 2022 Drink Trends

by David Klemt

Cocktail on bar mat behind bar

Curious about what drink trends to leverage throughout 2022 to fulfill guest desires and expectations? Datassential has answers.

Of course, nobody has a crystal ball. However, as their name suggests, Datassential has something similar: data.

A trove of their valuable data was shared during Bar & Restaurant Expo 2022. Amanda Torgerson, senior account manager at Datassential, revealed the trends operators should be aware of this year.

Datassential MegaTrends

During this informative session, Torgerson shared what Datassential has identified as three “megatrends.” In other words, two trends that are particularly noteworthy.

First up, self-service. Whether beer, wine, or cocktails, Datassential thinks today’s guest wants more control.

Self-service beverage alcohol taps offer control in multiple ways, pour size and customization among them.

In addition, guests don’t have to wait for servers or bartenders when serving themselves. And, of course, self-service cuts down on front-of-house labor costs.

Second, experiential imbibing. In this context, this doesn’t simply relate to occasion, service, location, and ambiance.

Rather, the drink itself is an experience. Experiential cocktails engage multiple senses and include:

  • color-changing cocktails (those using butterfly pea powder, for example);
  • cocktail carts (similar to tableside guacamole preparations, tableside cocktail prep and service);
  • fire and smoke: smoked, charred, and burnt cocktails;
  • drinks that invoke nostalgia and guests’ childhoods;
  • frozen drinks; and
  • beer, wine, spirit, and cocktail flights.

Finally, botanicals. As we know, scent is a crucial component of taste. Botanicals, obviously, activate one’s olfactory sense.

Additionally, botanicals can affect a drink’s appearance and taste. So, break out the Chartreuse, Lillet, and elderflower liqueurs.

And while your team is at it, consider how else scent can be used to entice guests and enhance the drinking experience.

Best of the Rest

Treating this as more of a speed round, let’s review Datassential’s trend predictions in four major categories.

Seltzer/Beer

When it comes to hard seltzer, Datassential has (re)confirmed what we all know: This category has staying power. And as many operators found out during the pandemic, seltzers can boost to-go and delivery sales.

Beer cocktails are also trending up, per Datassential. Mini-bottles of beer also having a moment, and can easily tie into the beer cocktail trend.

Finally, heirloom beers—those made with heirloom grains—are proving popular with consumers.

Wine

According to Torgerson, wine seltzer is poised for a moment. Relating it to the hard seltzer trend, consider this Wine Cooler 2.0, as Torgerson said.

Other key wine trends are frizzante and red sparkling wines, orange wines, and canned sake.

Then there’s fruit wines, which means any wine not made from grapes. During her session, Torgerson suggested using these in cocktails.

Cocktail

In addition to cocktails on tap, Datassential sees the following as cocktail trends to watch:

  • Drinks made with genever.
  • Hybrid rums, blends of light and dark rums.
  • Ranch Water (typically a highball made with tequila and lime juice, topped with Topo Chico).
  • Single-serve, premade cocktails such as RTDs. These are great for off-premise sales.
  • Boozy frozen desserts.

Global

Focusing first on increasingly popular spirits, Datassential’s data shows that pisco, mezcal, and Japanese whisky are trending up.

In terms of wine, operators should look into regions that are perhaps “lesser known” in North America. Some examples from Torgerson’s presentation are Georgian and Hungarian wines.

And finally, what Datassential identifies as “drinking for a cause.” Such causes and beverage activations can be local or global as the world is so much more connected.

Image: ABHISHEK HAJARE on Unsplash

 

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Chain Restaurants: Present & Future

Chain Restaurants: Present & Future

Woman dining with friends in restaurant

Technomic presented the state of chain restaurants, now and next, during Restaurant Leadership Conference 2022 in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Obviously, the entire hospitality industry is facing significant struggles. Rising costs, supply chain chaos, labor shortages and challenges, inflation… The past two-years-plus haven’t been easy.

However, there’s reason for operators and their leadership teams and staff to be optimistic. Additionally, independent and small-chain operators can learn from Technomic’s findings.

Challenges & Threats

Well, let’s take our medicine first, starting with the supply chain. In short, it’s bedlam.

Joe Pawlak (standing in for David Henkes) and Richard Shank of Technomic said as much during RLC 2022. Per their data, 35 percent of operators dropped at least one manufacturer between 2020 and 2021.

Whether because of rising costs, an inability to consistently deliver product, or other factors, operators had to adapt. Clearly, there’s a nasty trickle-down effect when an operator drops a supplier.

And then there’s inflation. Interestingly, Shank calls what we’re seeing currently as “existential inflation.” Relating to consumers, this means their confidence is shaken in terms of spending.

Of course, this type of consumer perception manifests in several ways. For example, some guests cut down on visits. Others will cut down on ordering, skipping appetizers and desserts. Perhaps they have one less beer, glass of wine, or cocktail.

Also, some guests “trade down.” Meaning, there are consumers who opt for casual restaurants rather than fine dining. Or, they’ll move from fast-casual to QSR.

Looking at the numbers, however, nearly 40 percent respondents to a Technomic survey say they’re visiting restaurants less. This makes sense, as 81 percent are concerned about how inflation will impact them personally.

On the operator side of inflation comes pricing. During Pawlak and Shank’s presentation, they used QSR dinner pricing as a real-world example.

According to Technomic, the tipping point for guest perception of good value is just $7. At only $10, consumers feel things are getting expensive.

As Pawlak and Shank pointed out, this is a problem. After all, the average price for dinner at a QSR is $10.08. That number may already be higher today.

Opportunities

Medicine taken, we can move to the good news.

First, Technomic predicts a strong Q3 this year. Additionally, they don’t expect double-digit year-over-year inflation.

In terms of labor, Technomic doesn’t expect costs to go down. However, they do anticipate that they’ll level off rather than rise.

Then there are the numbers. For the top 500 chains in the US in particular, 2021 was a “banner year,” according to Pawlak. On an aggregate basis, sales for the top 500 (McDonald’s is number one, for those wondering) are up 17.9 percent.

Also, every category of restaurant is performing better. The top 500 chains, for instance, are up 18 percent year-over-year. Midscale restaurants are up 38.5 percent. Casual is up 30.2 percent while fast is up 22.2 percent, QSRs are up 13.2 percent. As far as the biggest bump, fine dining is up 56.9 percent.

Looking at 2019 for obvious reasons, the industry was down 49.1 percent in sales in April 2020. However, the industry was down just about a single percentage point in February of this year compared to the same time in 2019.

So, how do we keep sales trending upward when facing inflation and other threats? Pawlak, Shank, and Technomic have some advice.

Operators, for instance, can implement the “balanced barbell” pricing strategy. In this model, high-value items drive business alongside premium offerings. In other words, don’t discount the entire menu just to entice guests to keep visiting.

Once guests get a taste for falling prices, they’ll consider the lower prices the standard. After that, any increase can be perceived as “too expensive.” Of course, discounting the whole menu also impacts guest perception of the brand negatively.

In addition, Technomic suggests offering higher net profit discount bundles, and implementing off-premise, large-party strategies.

Should Technomic’s predictions prove true, the industry may see an even stronger Q4 and start to 2023.

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by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

What Consumers Expect from Delivery

What Consumers Expect from Delivery

by David Klemt

Delivery or takeout food order in brown paper bag

Consumers are developing specific behaviors and opinions regarding delivery that impact their perception of restaurants and brands.

Over the course of two years and three surveys, Deloitte has attempted to learn more about consumers and delivery.

In total, Deloitte surveyed 1,550 restaurant customers. Additionally, the multinational interviewed highly positioned executives from ten casual, fast-casual, and QSR brands.

What Consumers Want

First, it should come as no surprise that delivery is here to stay. None of Deloitte’s survey results indicate otherwise.

In fact, it appears that some consumers are showing an interest in additional delivery methods. Half of survey respondents are willing to try driverless or drone delivery.

More than half—64 percent—don’t expect to return to pre-pandemic dining habits by March of this year. Illustrating the habit of ordering takeout and delivery, 61 percent of respondents engage with restaurants that way at least once per week. That represents a 32-percent increase from June 2020 to September 2021.

When dining off-premise, 57 percent of Deloitte survey respondents prefer to place orders via an app. However, 40 percent of respondents prefer a restaurant’s own branded website or app. That shows that:

  1. A restaurant’s website matters. A significant percentage of consumers want to get information, get a feel for a restaurant, and place orders with a business directly.
  2. Direct delivery is feasible. Consumers want to know and feel as though they’re supporting a restaurant directly rather than a third-party business.

Own the Delivery Experience

Of course, quality is a concern with consumers who place delivery orders. This points to another pitfall regarding third-party delivery beyond the fees.

Unfair as it is, three out of five restaurant customer survey respondents have quality expectations. Specifically, they expect the same food experience off-premise as they receive on-premise. That means the same quality and the same freshness.

They also indicate that wait times of up to 30 minutes are acceptable. Here’s where the risk to restaurants comes into play. Consumers will fault the restaurant for late orders; cold food (or melted or room-temperature food for cold items); iced drinks becoming watered down; and other order issues even if they’re delivered by third-party services.

So, operators must look into and invest into what they can to improve the quality of delivery orders. Containers that keep hot food hot, French fries and other fried foods crisp, and cold foods cold are paramount.

Unfortunately, problems that occur after an order has left a restaurant—which are out of the business’ hands—are often attributed to the venue. Another reason, then, to consider and implement direct delivery.

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Independent Operators are Making Changes

Despite Challenges, Independent Operators are Making Changes for the Better

by David Klemt

White and red neon restaurant sign that reads "Kitchen Open"

Independent Restaurant Coalition survey results show our industry is still struggling but some operators are making positive changes.

The hospitality industry absolutely needs and deserves help. The Restaurant Revitalization Fund absolutely needs replenishing.

However, hospitality continues to prove its resiliency, adaptability, and innovation.

It must be said, though, that it’s exhausting for owners, operators, and workers to have to constantly be resilient. Sometimes, the industry needs help. It’s past time for help to come.

But, I digress. Back to the IRC and their recently released survey results.

Still Overwhelmed

The IRC surveyed close to 1,200 respondents who are part of the restaurant and bar community. Survey participants represented all 50 states in the US.

Some respondents received RRF grants, some did not. Of course, receiving a grant wasn’t a silver bullet for surviving the pandemic.

However, the grants certainly helped:

  • Nineteen percent of grant recipients took out personal loans since February 2020. In comparison, that number more than doubles to 41 percent for those who didn’t receive grants.
  • Since the beginning of the pandemic, five percent of grant recipients took on additional investors. Again, that number more than doubles for operators who received no RRF grants. Eleven percent took on more investors to survive.
  • Due to the omicron variant of Covid-19, grant recipients had to reduce staff by 21 percent on average. Their counterparts had to decrease staff, on average, by 30 percent.
  • When it comes to selling off a personal asset to help their business survive the pandemic, ten percent of grant recipients did so. For those who didn’t receive an RRF grant, that number increases more than two-and-a-half times to 26 percent.

The challenges—an inadequate word, truly—have led to industry-wide changes. Per the IRC’s survey:

  • Hiring challenges have impacted 91 percent of independent restaurants and bars.
  • Menu prices were hiked up by 89 percent of independent businesses.
  • Nearly half—42 percent—reported to the IRC that they had pivoted to alternate business models after ceasing indoor and outdoor service.
  • Six percent of independent restaurants and bars pivoted to offering outdoor dining only.

Progress Being Made

Operators have been facing hiring challenges for several months now. In response, some operators offer various incentives.

As examples: meals for honoring scheduled interviews; cash for showing up to interviews; large cash bonuses for remaining in position for 90 or more days.

However, none of the above really address longstanding, widespread issues hospitality workers have given as reasons for quitting jobs (and the industry entirely).

To name just two, livable wages and benefits. Despite the challenges operators are facing, they have made positive changes. We’re not talking a small percentage, either.

Per the IRC, independent businesses reported the following changes:

  • 84 percent of restaurants increased wages.
  • 37 percent of restaurants, bars and other independent hospitality businesses added paid sick leave to the benefits they provide.
  • 21 percent of employers have added paid vacation to their benefits.

These changes (and others) are a promising start, showing that operators are listening to workers. Bringing traffic and revenue back to pre-pandemic levels—and beyond—is a great goal. But how will the industry get there?

One answer is for operators to listen to the hospitality professionals they rely on for their businesses to thrive. Listening, and then acting in meaningful ways.

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Global Trends 2022: Technomic

Global Trends 2022: Technomic

by David Klemt

"For the World" neon sign

What? You didn’t think we would focus only on Canada and America when it comes to 2022 trends, did you?

It’s difficult to keep up with restaurant, bar, and cuisine trends if you keep your focus too narrow.

Technomic is acutely aware of this. So, we took a look at senior research manager Aaron Jourden’s 2022 Global Restaurant Trends Forecast report.

One specific item, a coffee, is a striking standout. But we’ll get to that in a moment…

Operations

First, let’s take a look at restaurant and bar operations.

It’s not just North America that’s facing a labor shortage. And in 2022, Technomic expects this challenge to persist.

There are a few ways we can look at labor shortages and other challenges.

One: We can make no internal changes, pretending hope is a strategy and things will work themselves out magically. Two: We can get cynical and hostile, putting the blame on workers.

Three: We can look at the industry as a whole and operations in particular to make meaningful changes. Working conditions can be improved, leadership skills can be developed, operations can be streamlined, inventory can be cross-utilized and maximized. What are we offering workers and guests? What can be changed to reduce costs, and to increase traffic and revenue?

In other words, operators are in a position to adapt, innovate, and make meaningful changes that will ensure our industry’s long-term survival.

Labor, supply chain, and cost issues will continue in 2022. However, Technomic predicts that 2022 will be the year of measurable recovery.

Fading Ghosts

Technomic isn’t saying that ghost kitchens are going put to rest.

Rather, the firm expects the hype around them to fade away. To be sure, ghost (and virtual—not the same thing) kitchens enjoyed quite a bit more than 15 minutes of fame in 2020 and 2021.

However, we’ve seen recent reports of certain ghost kitchen chains facing logistic and legal troubles. The shine very much seems to be dulling on this pandemic trend.

Again, Technomic doesn’t think ghost kitchens will suddenly disappear. But the incessant coverage? That may be on the way out in 2022.

Food & Flavor Trends

Now, the fun stuff. If Jourden’s report proves accurate, menus throughout the world are going to see some intriguing additions:

  • Breakfast Comes Back. With people heading back to the office and children back in school, the breakfast daypart will return. Operators who did away with breakfast may see value in bringing breakfast food and beverages back.
  • Chicken or the Egg? Per Jourden’s report, the egg sandwich is in a position to knock chicken sandwiches off their pedestal. So, chicken wins either way. Jourden points to an interesting element of this prediction: Eggs are fun, allowing for puns on menus, marketing, and branding.
  • Regional vs. Global. A number of regional brands will stand out against global brands in 2022. Regional brands speak to what today’s consumer wants: locality and hyper-locality; sustainability and responsible business practices; and a focus on healthfulness.
  • What Coffee?! Jourden’s report identifies a number of truly innovative and intriguing F&B trends for 2022. The one that grabbed my attention immediately? Avocado coffee. Already popular in Indonesia, avocado coffee is expected to find its way onto menus across the globe. Other items Jourden thinks will gain traction in 2022: Pão de queijo (Brazilian cheese bread), Mexican flatbreads, vegetarian-friendly meat alternative halloumi, mutabal or moutabal (baba ghanoush’s cousin), regional comfort soups, and plant-based eggs.
  • Functional Foods. If you didn’t find avocado coffee intriguing, what about dessert foods imbued with healthful characteristics? Jourden identifies a few desserts that do more than satisfy a sweet tooth: Hand pies that boost immune systems, macarons made to enhance moods, and even ice cream that will enhance a person’s skin health and appearance.

Next year is going to be challenging. That simply isn’t up for debate. But it’s also going to be rife with opportunity and innovation for savvy operators.

Image: Jon Tyson on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

American Trends 2022: Technomic

American Trends 2022: Technomic

by David Klemt

Wooden spoon loaded with salt

Two weeks ago, I reviewed and shared Technomic’s “Canadian Trends: Looking Ahead to 2022” report, and now it’s America’s turn.

Not too surprisingly, the US and Canada are similar in terms of a few 2022 trend predictions.

And while the Omicron variant of Covid-19 is causing some restaurants and bars to close, there is some good news from Technomic.

Salt

First, a difference between America and Canada. As you may recall from my review of Canadian predictions, Technomic predicts butter will be even more important next year.

Interestingly, salt is the big prediction for the United States. The reasoning is similar: people are seeking out comfort in these difficult times.

Technomic’s “2022: The Year of the Climb” report states flat out that, “Salt is the new fat.”

The industry intelligence firm predicts that salt will be increasingly important in kitchens—and on tables—in 2022.

For example, Technomic expects operators to focus salt-cured fish and meats. Of course, that doesn’t just meet a predicted consumer demand. Cured foods can be preserved for longer, which is appealing to operators.

Seaweeds, salt blends, and salty sauces will be used in the kitchen. According to Technomic, some of those will replace (or accompany) traditional salt on tables.

Going further, Technomic predicts that salt will find its way into cocktails. This can be in the form of salty ingredients or salt water, a trend from a few years ago.

Creative Prep

Let’s stick with the kitchen a bit longer.

This is one of the strongest similarities shared by the US and Canada. Technomic predicts that operators will need to focus on cross-utilization and creativity.

As you’ve likely already figured out, this is because of supply chain issues. The more ways items can be used without introducing new SKUs, the easier things may be for operators.

Some examples of cross-utilization suggested by Technomic:

  • Roasting, grilling, and blistering items normally served raw.
  • Pickling ingredients.
  • Fermenting items.
  • Turning some items into jams.
  • Aging some ingredients.

Labor Challenges

Obviously, the labor shortage is felt throughout North America. Unfortunately, this is another similarity when comparing Technomic’s American and Canadian 2022 trend predictions.

KRG Hospitality has addressed the need for the industry to make significant changes several times this year. In particular, founder and president Doug Radkey published a book, Hacking the New Normal, calling for change to improve working conditions and the industry’s long-term survival.

Technomic is suggesting the same. The firm predicts the following for 2022:

  • Wage increases across the board.
  • Benefits (healthcare, emergency child care, 401(k), and more).
  • Virtual hiring events.
  • Referral and signing bonuses.

However, more needs to be done. The industry doesn’t simply need to revamp its image, it needs to:

  • address—and not dismiss—issues raised by current hospitality professionals;
  • solve the problems that led to so many hospitality workers quitting jobs and giving up on the industry;
  • implement real solutions for the problems the industry has faced and, frankly, nurtured for decades.

And that’s just the start. If we don’t face our industry’s challenges head-on, there won’t be much of an industry in the future.

The Battle for Comfort

Yes, comfort food will be important next year. Hence the entire section on salt above.

However, when I mention comfort in this section I’m referring to personal comfort levels.

You’ve likely been hearing from industry peers and seeing on social media that a number of bars are closing until December 29 or December 30. These temporary closures are due to spikes in positive Covid-19 cases, mostly driven by Omicron.

Many Americans, eager to return to a semblance of their pre-Covid lives, want to spend time in restaurants and bars. However, people need to balance their comfort levels with their desire for social experiences.

In response, Technomic predicts that operators will need to balance the on-premise and off-premise. In other words, omni-channel operators must dial in their offerings.

Per Technomic, operators have to figure out their mix: interactive in-person experiences, takeout, and delivery.

Good News

Technomic is making two 2022 predictions that should come as a relief to operators.

First, Q1 of 2022, per Technomic, “will reveal a particularly strong year-over-year performance” in comparison to 2021.

Overall, the firm projects a 10.4-percent sales increase for 2022 when compared to 2019 sales.

There is, however, a caveat. We’ll have to take rising menu prices into account when analyzing this year’s and next year’s sales levels.

For those wondering which category is predicted to perform the best, Technomic identifies limited-service restaurants will recover quickest.

In contrast, full-service will see slower recovery. Business, leisure, and indeed “bleisure” travel will have an impact on full-service traffic.

So, 2022 isn’t going to magically return to pre-pandemic “normal.” However, should Technomic’s conservative sales prediction prove accurate, recovery is on the menu.

Image: Jason Tuinstra on Unsplash

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