Food menu

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

5 Books to Read this Month: April 2024

5 Books to Read this Month: April 2024

by David Klemt

Flipping through an open book

Our inspiring and informative March book selections will help you improve operations, refresh and streamline F&B programming, and learn more about coffee.

This month, we look at books covering an array of topics: overcoming dysfunctions within teams; stepping outside of comfort zones; cocktail and Irish dish recipes; and repurposing existing buildings.

To review the book recommendations from March 2024, click here.

Let’s jump in!

Roundbuilding

Perhaps unsurprisingly, it seems like most cocktail books target home bartenders. In a refreshing change of pace, Roundbuilding is specifically for working bartenders. In case the name doesn’t give it away, this book is about crafting and serving consistent rounds of cocktails and ensuring a high standard of service.

From Amazon:Roundbuiding is a practical guide to mixing cocktails, aimed at the working bartender. This is a book about ensuring that, for every round you serve, every drink is made to a consistently high standard, and that first sip always makes an impression. It’s the nuts and bolts of mixing drinks.”

Buy it today!

The World Atlas of Coffee (2nd Edition)

This bestseller enjoys a 4.8-star rating on Amazon with nearly 4,000 reviews on the platform. The World Atlas of Coffee also boasts a score of 4.4 on Goodreads.

Written by World Barista Champion James Hoffman (who’s also the co-founder of a successful coffee roaster operating out of London), this book will provide the reader with just about everything they need to know about coffee. The rise in popularity of cocktails like the Carajillo and the near-constant chatter about the Espresso Martini got me thinking: I should probably include a coffee book in one of these roundups.

From Amazon: “Coffee has never been better, or more interesting, than it is today. Coffee producers have access to more varieties and techniques than ever before and we, as consumers, can share in that expertise to make sure the coffee we drink is the best we can find. Where coffee comes from, how it was harvested, the roasting process and the water used to make the brew are just a few of the factors that influence the taste of what we drink. Champion barista and coffee expert James Hoffmann examines these key factors, looking at varieties of coffee, the influence of terroir, how it is harvested and processed, the roasting methods used, through to the way in which the beans are brewed.”

Pick your copy up now.

The Complete Recipe Writing Guide: Mastering Recipe Development, Writing, Testing, Nutrition Analysis, and Food Styling

This book isn’t even a year old but has already made waves. In fact, it was listed as one of Chef Eric Ripert‘s (Le Bernardin in New York City) books of the month just a couple of months after publication.

From Amazon:The Complete Recipe Writing Guide shows you how to create professional recipe content from development to publication. Raeanne Sarazen, a registered dietitian and chef, shares her expertise from over 20 years of working with recipes as a test kitchen professional, recipe developer, food writer, and editor, along with insider tips from top industry professionals. Like a master class on recipes, this comprehensive resource guides you through the variety of skills needed to create and share successful recipes.”

Get your copy here.

Bar Hacks: Developing The Fundamentals for an Epic Bar

This informative and conversational book written by KRG Hospitality president Doug Radkey is the perfect read for aspiring or seasoned bar, pub, lounge, or even restaurant owners, operators, and managers looking for that competitive edge in operations! If you’re looking for both fundamental and in-depth planning methods, strategies, and industry focused insight to either start or grow a scalable, sustainable, memorable, profitable, and consistent venue in today’s cut-throat industry, Bar Hacks is written just for you.

Pick up the paperback from Amazon today!

Hacking the New Normal: Hitting the Reset Button on the Hospitality Industry

Doug’s followup book to Bar Hacks! The world around us has changed. The food and beverage industry has changed. The hospitality industry has changed. But will some ways of life change for the better? Will perhaps the restaurant, bar, and hospitality industry come out even stronger? With the right changes to the previous status quo, it is possible. There’s no question, resets are major undertakings, but a major reset will provide us with a clean start and that’s what this industry needs.

Pick up KRG Hospitality president Doug Radkey’s second book today! Click here.

Image: Mikołaj on Unsplash

KRG Hospitality Start-Up Restaurant Bar Hotel Consulting Consultant Solutions Plans Services

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Put Your Finger on the Culinary TrendPulse

Put Your Finger on the Culinary TrendPulse

by David Klemt

Elote or street corn-style dish on a table

An informative and engaging culinary trend report from Campbell’s Foodservice provides compelling insight that will help operators refresh their menus.

Recently, Campbell’s dropped their Culinary TrendPulse 2024 report. To download your own copy, click here.

Executive chef Gerald Drummond and senior chef Greg Boggs have identified four culinary trends for 2024. The chefs analyzed data provided by Campbell’s Foodservice and the company’s partners.

As has become commonplace, Campbell’s also took note of food and flavor social media mentions and conversations. This makes sense; if people are talking about it on social media, it’s probably growing in demand.

Now, I’m going to share each of the trends below. However, I’m going to laser in on one in particular. My reasoning is simple: It’s a compelling take on segment that has been experiencing growth, along with the accompanying growing pains.

To start, though, a brief look at three of the 2024 culinary trends identified by Chefs Drummond and Boggs.

TrendPulse 2024: Trends 1, 3 and 4

To put it bluntly, I think the first trend in this report is here to stay. It’s safe to say it has reached the proliferation stage.

So, when I see “global cuisine” in reports, I don’t really consider it a trend. What I want to see is specific cuisines, dishes or flavors identified as trending.

Fortunately, Chefs Drummond and Boggs have identified three global cuisines on the rise. Per the chefs and Campbell’s, Mexican, Asian, and North African cuisines are on an upward trend in the US.

In particular, operators should be aware of the following:

  • Asian cuisine: Korean, Souteast Asian, and Thai food are on the rise.
  • Mexican cuisine: birria, quesabirria, birriamen, chamoy, and street corn mentions have grown in menu mentions and social discussions.
  • North African cuisine is projected to grow by more than 12 percent on menus, year over year. Currently, operators should look at harissa, tagine, and peri-peri (a.k.a. piri-piri, or peli-peli).

Another trend from this report is “new nostalgia.” As the term suggests, consumers are showing interest in creative spins on well-known comfort foods.

Likely driven at least in part by global cuisines, heat is also on the rise. I mean that figuratively and literally.

Per a Tastewise data point cited in the Campbell’s report, sweet and spicy mentionsknown as “swicy”—have grown nearly 50 percent over the past year.

TrendPulse 2024: Trend 2

Alright, so here’s the trend that stands out to me.

According to Chefs Drummond and Boggs, consumers are still very much interested in plant-based cuisine. However, they want actual plants to be the stars.

Or, as Campbell’s puts it in their report, one of their top trends is “putting plants back in plant-based.” Interestingly, this trend fits with the first one in the Campbell’s report: global cuisine.

Per a Technomic report cited by Campbell’s, 41 percent of consumers eat a vegetarian or vegan dish at least once per week. However, it seems that these same consumers are showing a preference for actual plants.

Most plant-based meat alternatives are processed foods. In fact, some sources designate them “ultra-processed foods.” Today’s consumer is more educated on processed foods and seeks to avoid them.

So, operators should menu more dishes that feature plants. There’s a place for plant-based meat alternatives but their highly processed nature may be putting off a not-insignificant number of consumers.

In their report, Campbell’s suggests offering dishes featuring the following proteins: beans, legumes, and pulses.

Look, trend predictions are guesses. In this case, they’re data-driven and educated, but they’re still guesses. When considering menu changes, operators need to make choices that make sense for their business, guests, and market.

If you’re like me, you’ve noticed that all four of these trends pair well with one another. Operators should encourage their kitchen teams to get creative and craft new dishes that leverage two or more of the above trends.

Image: Aleisha Kalina on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Slice Releases 2024 Report

Indie Pizzeria App Slice Releases 2024 Report

by David Klemt

Slice of pepperoni pizza on a plate, on top of a table

Still the most popular pizza topping.

It’s finally here, one of our favorite food-forward hospitality industry reports providing operators with valuable insider insights.

In keeping with tradition, Slice released their 2024 Slice of the Union report the day before National Pizza Day. Truly, this is one of the reports I most look forward to each year.

As one would expect, the fifth-annual Slice of the Union is stuffed with helpful information.

Before we dig in, a quick rundown of Slice. The platform serves all 50 states and works with more than 20,000 independent pizzerias. To put that in context, that’s a network of pizzerias in the US larger than Domino’s, Little Caesars, and Pizza Hut combined.

If you’re an independent pizzeria owner and you have yet to partner with Slice, I encourage you to look into doing so. Should a partnership with Slice be feasible, it should increase brand awareness, engagement, traffic, and revenue to a notable degree.

Seasoning

Kicking things off, Slice sprinkles a bit of trivia onto this year’s report.

Last year, consumers apparently gorged themselves on pizza. How much was eaten? Just over 29,000 tons.

Providing context, Slice says to imagine 11,572,064,136 pennies. That’s a Scrooge McDuck dive-worthy pile of coins.

However, one category of pizza experienced a drop in popularity last year. According to Slice, pizzerias saw a 5.21-percent dip in vegan pizza orders.

Now, on to toppings.

Toppings

There’s a reason I chose a photo of a single slice of pepperoni pizza for this article.

Operators who track their data probably already know what I’m about to say: According to Slice, pepperoni is the most popular pizza topping in the US.

This is followed by, in descending order of popularity, mushrooms, sausage, extra cheese, onions, bacon, and black olives. For those wondering, kale was one of the “least-loved” toppings last year.

If you read through the 2023 Slice of the Union report or read our article reviewing it, you know they made a couple of trend predictions. Last year, Slice guessed that pickle pizzas would be in demand. Well, they were right. Orders for pickle pizzas jumped by 32 percent in 2023.

So, when Slice makes a pizza-based prediction, it’s probably in your best interest to take it to heart. Oh, waitSlice has a prediction for 2024. According to the platform, tinned fish will be a standout pizza topping this year.

Sauce

In case you’re wondering about how much data Slice has at their fingertips, here’s an interesting bit of trivia. Last year, 4,744 people ordered pizzas with anchovies, garlic, or onions on Valentine’s Day. Alrighty, then.

They also know that orders for pizza with pineapple as a topping saw an increase of nearly six percent in 2023.

Further, the 2024 Slice of the Union reveals the most and least “pizzaful” days of 2023. The former? December 1. And the latter? Thanksgiving.

Last year, Fridays accounted for the most orders, at 23.5 percent. However, only 8.7 percent of pizza orders were placed on Mondays.

For data that’s a bit more esoteric, what if Slice could reveal which Zodiac signs order the most and least pizza? Would this be useful to operators? Honestly, it could be, I suppose. Particularly for those who have loyalty programs and engage with their guests via email and text marketing.

Apparently, a Taurus (April 20 to May 20) is the most likely to order pizza. Conversely, Capricorns (December 22 to January 19) either don’t like placing food orders in general or don’t like eating pizza specifically, because they ordered the least amount last year.

By the way, if you happen to operate a pizzeria in New Jersey, you may want to search for a guest named Dominic. According to Slice, someone named Dominic in NJ placed 348 pizza orders in 2023. Sounds like Dom has earned a special perk from his favorite pizza joint.

Extra Cheese

Pizzeria owners and their teams in Hawaii, Alabama, Oregon, South Carolina, and Montana may have the happiest wallets. That’s because people who ordered pizza for delivery in those five states tipped their drivers the most.

However, people who order pizza in Washington may have slightly lighter wallets than their fellow Americans. That’s because while the average price for a large cheese pizza in the US is $18.33, that number jumps to $25.75 in the Evergreen State.

If you’d like to see the average price for a large cheese pizza in each of the 50 states, click here. As an example, the average price in Nevada (KRG Hospitality’s American HQ is in Las Vegas) is $21.09.

Speaking of price, while Dom in NJ placed the most pizza orders, Frances in New York placed the most expensive order last year: $2,867.07. Frances, I want to attend one of your pizza parties (I think).

Finally, let’s end on data that can help operators when reviewing their labor costs. On average, pizza delivery distance was 9.14 miles in 2023. And, on average, pizzerias completed the process of producing an order and delivering it in 42.5 minutes.

For more insights from the 2024 Slice of the Union, click here.

Image: Sydney Troxell on Pexels

KRG Hospitality. Restaurant Business Plan. Feasibility Study. Concept. Branding. Consultant. Start-Up.

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

5 Books to Read this Month: March 2024

5 Books to Read this Month: March 2024

by David Klemt

Flipping through an open book

Our inspiring and informative March book selections will help you improve operations, refresh F&B programming, and consider a design update.

This month, we look at books covering an array of topics: overcoming dysfunctions within teams; stepping outside of comfort zones; cocktail and Irish dish recipes; and repurposing existing buildings.

To review the book recommendations from February 2024, click here.

Let’s jump in!

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable

In a departure from most business books, the author of The Five Dysfunctions of a Team presents useful lessons in the style of a fictional tale. This approach makes this bookwhich has more than 13,000 reviews on Amazona compelling read.

From Amazon: “Equal parts leadership fable and business handbook, this definitive source on teamwork by Patrick Lencioni reveals the five behavioral tendencies that go to the heart of why even the best teams struggle. He offers a powerful model and step-by-step guide for overcoming those dysfunctions and getting every one rowing in the same direction.”

Pick up your copy today.

The Complete Irish Pub Cookbook

I doubt you need a reminder but just in case, St. Patrick’s is just two weeks away. So, what better time to pick up this best-selling cookbook featuring Irish classic and modern fare? Flip through this book, check out some interesting recipes, and put your own spin on them so they fit with your concept.

From Amazon: “Pubs in Ireland are the cornerstone of their communities, relaxed places where locals and visitors can experience the best of traditional Irish hospitality. Many pubs have also become the place to go for a great meal, with a choice of both traditional and contemporary dishes. In recent years Irish cooking has been transformed, with skillful cooks making the most of wonderful fresh local produce to create delicious new dishes and giving a twist to many classics. This tasty cookbook includes the best of both worlds – with best-loved favorites s Irish Stew, Corned Beef and Split Pea and Ham Soup and newer recipes, like Scallop Chowder or Oatmeal and Raspberry Cream to set your taste buds tingling.”

Order The Complete Irish Pub Cookbook now!

Drink: Featuring Over 1,100 Cocktail, Wine, and Spirits Recipes

This is a seriously big book. After all, it really does contain more than 1,100 recipes. KRG Hospitality president Doug Radkey recently picked up this book and flipped through its many, many pages.

Along with well over a thousand recipes organized by spirit, Drink looks at bar tools, housemade ingredients, and ice. Further, it includes interviews with bartenders. If you’re looking for a recipe book that will inspire a drink menu refresh, this is the one you want.

Grab this tome today.

Cool is Everywhere: New and Adaptive Design Across America

Last month, we dove into the biophilic design methodology. This book, Cool is Everywhere, is a photo-driven look into the adaptive reuse design movement. Very briefly summarized, this is a design movement that focuses on repurposing existing architecture rather than knocking down buildings and putting up new construction. This approach tends to be eco-friendly, and as you’ll see from the photos in this book, it also creates cool buildings.

From Amazon: “Cool Is Everywhere highlights remarkable designs that have transformed ordinary buildings into works of art. From North Adams, Massachusetts, to Oakland, California, join Michel as he explores the skyscrapers and quaint neighborhoods that led him to believe that cool is, in fact, everywhere.”

Pick up this book now.

The Comfort Crisis: Embrace Discomfort To Reclaim Your Wild, Happy, Healthy Self

This book from author Michael Easter asks a fairly simple question: What if the modern world’s conveniences are making our lives more difficult? When we look deeper into our lives, we may find that our health is being impacted negatively by building and remaining in our comfort zones. Certainly, entrepreneurs can find that refusing to step outside of their comfort is hurting the business side of their lives.

From Amazon: “In many ways, we’re more comfortable than ever before. But could our sheltered, temperature-controlled, overfed, underchallenged lives actually be the leading cause of many our most urgent physical and mental health issues? In this gripping investigation, award-winning journalist Michael Easter seeks out off-the-grid visionaries, disruptive genius researchers, and mind-body conditioning trailblazers who are unlocking the life-enhancing secrets of a counterintuitive solution: discomfort.”

Order it today!

Image: Mikołaj on Unsplash

KRG Hospitality Start-Up Restaurant Bar Hotel Consulting Consultant Solutions Plans Services

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Program for Unique Holidays: March 2024

Program for Unique Holidays: March 2024

by David Klemt

"Think about things differently" neon sign

Do you want to stand out from from other restaurants and bars in your area? Change how you think about your March holiday promotions.

Several holidays are set against every date on the calendar, and this month is no exception. These holidays range from mainstream to esoteric.

Pay attention to the “weird” or unique holidays to raise eyebrows, carve out a niche for your restaurant or bar, and attract more guests. Why do what everyone else is already doing? Why program only around the same holidays as everyone else?

Of course, you shouldn’t try to celebrate every holiday, strange or otherwise. Focus on the days that are authentic to your brand; resonate with your guests; and help you grab attention on social media.

You’ll find suggestions for promotions below. However, the idea behind our monthly holiday promotions roundup is to inspire you and your team to get creative and come up with unique programming ideas.

For our February 2024 holidays list, click here.

March 5: Cinco de Marcho

Supposedly, this holiday is meant to “train the livers” of people planning on getting slightly wild on March 17. They have 12 days to get ready to party.

Well, we at KRG Hospitality think this sounds a bit irresponsible. We don’t want any operators or their teams to run into any legal trouble. So, I recommend offering a spin on the Coronarita as a nearly two-week-long LTO.

Build a Margarita with Irish whiskey, Cointreau, fresh lime juice, and agave syrup. Serve it in a salt-rimmed pint glass, schooner, or mason jar. Invert a Harp Lager, Smithwick’s Pale Ale, or Guinness Blonde Lager in the glass.

March 7: National Crown Roast of Pork Day

Here’s a fun one based on a culinary classic. Put simply, a crown roast is anywhere from a dozen to nearly two dozen pork rib chops. When arranged in a circle, they look like a crown.

It’s old school, and it’s certainly a shareable dish. Dress this LTO up with a wine pairing, or dress it down with a bucket of beers.

March 8: National Proofreading Day

Your menu is a billboard. It’s a crucial marketing and branding tool. So, it can be embarrassing when there are typos and other issues on your menu.

If you don’t want to proofread it yourself, or you just want to engage your guests, put a “bounty” on misspellings and grammatical errors on your menu. Watch how quickly any mistakes are found, if any exist.

March 14: National Potato Chip Day

Housemade potato chips are among the best appetizers and sides. If your kitchen team is up for it, consider housemade chips as an LTO side. Think about making them a permanent (or semi-permanent) addition to your menu if all goes well.

March 18: National Sloppy Joe Day

So, it’s March 18. Some people may have gotten after it pretty hard for St. Patrick’s Day. They need comfort food.

If your kitchen team can make delicious Sloppy Joe’s from scratch (maybe served with housemade potato chips), they may be just what the doctor ordered.

March 19: National Poultry Day

Does your restaurant or bar serve dishes featuring poultry? Guess what you should do on this day…

March 21: World Vermouth Day

The days of low-quality vermouth are gone. For a few years not at least, people have discovered that premium vermouth makes a great cocktail base. This holds particularly true for low-ABV drinks, like reverse cocktails.

March 22: National Goof Off Day

This year, National Goof Off Day falls on a Friday. Really, that timing couldn’t be much better.

Encourage your guests to set aside their responsibilitiesas long as it won’t get them firedand goof off at your bar.

March 29: Smoke and Mirrors Day

When a cocktail is served with smoke, people take notice. Often times, when one is served, people watching the show want one of their own.

This is the perfect holiday to show off your smoking cocktails. To really embrace the holiday, smoke and serve them in a glass and chrome smoker box. By the way, these boxes work well when it comes to smoking food items, too.

March 31: National Tater Day

Much like poultry day, I bet you can figure out what to do on National Tater Day. Celebrate the potato! Tater tot nachos? Done. Sriracha French fries? Awesome. Fully loaded potato skins and baked potatoes? Classics.

Get creative. The humble potato is a fantastic canvas for enticing dishes.

Image: Ivan Bertolazzi on Pexels

Bar Pub Brewery Nightclub Club Nightlife Marketing Plan

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Taco Bell Reveals 2024 Marketing Calendar

“Thank You for Coming to My Taco Bell Talk”

by David Klemt

2024 Taco Bell menu item lineup

The showdown between the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers isn’t the only big news coming out of Las Vegas from Super Bowl LVIII weekend.

Of course, the game’s result is also big news. Congratulations to the Chiefs on their back-to-back world champion wins!

However, Super Bowl weekend kicked off with a unique event. On Friday, February 9, Taco Bell hosted their first-ever Live Más LIVE event.

As the event’s title suggests, Live Más LIVE was a livestream. And during that livestream, the undisputed Kings of the LTO did something they and their competitors simply don’t do. At Live Más LIVE, Taco Bell revealed their 2024 menu lineup.

Another way of putting this to illustrate the event’s significance is that Taco Bell just gave away their marketing calendar for the year.

Apparently, the inspiration for Live Más LIVE comes from Apple. The tech colossus has been hosting their annual Worldwide Developers Conference in earnest for more than 20 years. For the unfamiliar, Apple uses WDC to announce product news.

“I watch Apple’s Worldwide Developer’s Conference, and I just had this moment,” said Taylor Montgomery, Taco Bell’s chief marketing officer. So, I have to wonder if Live Más LIVE will become an annual or semi-annual event.

I’ll get to the items and opportunities Taco Bell unveiled in a moment. There’s a bigger point I believe operators should take away from Live Más LIVE.

A restaurant or bar’s menu is not just a list of items for sale. A menu is a powerful marketing tool. It’s a billboard. Arguably, the menu is the most powerful tool in an operator’s marketing toolbox.

QSR Innovation

Collaborations

While Taco Bell’s 2024 menu items are huge news, they’re not the only important revelation.

During Live Más LIVE, Taco Bell announced three emerging chefs who will launch the QSR giant’s TBX culinary program. Chefs Reuben Asaram, Jennifer Hwa Dobbertin, and Lawrence Smith will first be tasked with reinvigorating the Crunchwrap Supreme.

The announcement that these three chefs will bring their unique styles to Taco Bell speaks to the overall theme of the Super Bowl weekend event: Innovation.

This year, Taco Bell is going hard with new menu items, and they’re entering into compelling new collaborations to do so. These partnerships include:

  • Beekeeper Coffee for Horchata Cold Brew Latte;
  • Cheez-It for the Cheez-It Crunchwrap, which features a Cheez-It cracker that’s 16 times (!) the size of a standard one;
  • Disha Hot for an exclusive sauce packet;
  • Salt & Straw for Ice Cream Chocolate Taco (think upscale Choco Taco), featuring cinnamon ancho ice cream;
  • Secret Aardvark for their Serrabanero sauce, which will accompany Nacho Fries; and
  • Tajín for an exclusive Taco Bell menu that will reportedly consist of a Tajín Crunchy Taco, Tajín Twists, and a Tajín Strawberry Freeze.

Having attended the Salt & Straw opening in Las Vegas (well, Spring Valley, but I won’t get into that further) I can say that I’m eager to sink my teeth into an Ice Cream Chocolate Taco.

On its own, these collaborations and menu testings are big news. However, Taco Bell’s event went bigger.

Menu Expansion

We all remember the Great Chicken Wars of the past several years. Well, Taco Bell has put their competitors on notice: They’re finally leaping into the fray.

According to Liz Matthews, Taco Bell’s chief food innovation officer, the company is lacking when it comes to having their “fair share of chicken.” The planned Cantina Chicken menu aims to fix this oversight.

2024 Live Mas Live Taco Bell event

Along with oven-roasted and shredded chicken seasoned with pasilla, other chilies, and spices, come a number of ingredients appearing at Taco Bell restaurants for the first time. Among them are purple cabbage, an Avocado Verde Salsa sauce packet, and white corn taco shells.

Debuting soon (hopefully) are are the Cantina Chicken Burrito, Cantina Chicken Taco (available in soft or crispy varieties), Cantina Chicken Quesadilla, and Cantina Chicken Bowl.

Those aren’t the only new chicken-centric items coming to the Taco Bell menu. There’s also the Cheesy Chicken Crispanada, featuring marinated and slow-cooked chicken.

Oh, and chicken nugget lovers, rejoice! Crispy Chicken Nuggets, made by marinating all-white chicken in spiced jalapeño buttermilk and frying them in a tortilla coating, are on their way.

This year, Taco Bell will also offer the Cheesy Enchilada Dipping Taco (slow-roasted chicken), and Cheesy Street Chalupa, which is available with slow-roasted chicken or grilled steak.

On the sweet side, Taco Bell is launching MTN DEW BAJA BLAST Gelato, and Dulce de Leche Cinnabon Delights.

As one might suspect, some of these items will be permanent, some will come in the form of LTOs. And if my suspicions prove correct, I think we’ll see a secret, unannounced menu item at least once in 2024.

Image: Taco Bell

KRG Hospitality. Restaurant Business Plan. Feasibility Study. Concept. Branding. Consultant. Start-Up.

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Pizza Today Reveals Top New Cheeses

Pizza Today Reveals Top New Cheeses for 2024

by David Klemt

Cheese pull from cheese pizza

Pizza Today‘s informative 2024 Pizza Industry Trends Report is full of useful information, from top styles and toppings to new cheeses guests can choose.

Two weeks ago we did a deep dive into the top eleven pizza styles going into 2024, per Pizza Today. Click here to read that article.

Last week we checked out what the pizza publication had to say about top pizza styles by region. Additionally, we looked at the top toppings nationally and regionally. You can read that article here.

Now, we’re going to talk about what Pizza Today has learned about the top cheeses operators are putting on their menus.

Top Pizza Styles, Nationally and Regionally

Before we jump into the cheeses, a quick recap of the top pizza styles in America.

  1. New York
  2. Traditional American
  3. Sicilian
  4. Deep Dish
  5. Neapolitan / Napoletana
  6. Chicago Thin / Tavern-style
  7. Detroit
  8. Grandma
  9. California / American Artisan
  10. NEOpolitan / Neo-Neapolitan and Chicago Thick (tie)

And now, the top trending pizza styles.

  1. Detroit
  2. Deep Dish and Grandma (tie)
  3. Sicilian
  4. New York
  5. Chicago Thin

Finally, the top pizza styles by region. For a more detailed explanation of each region, click here.

The West

  1. New York Style
  2. Traditional America
  3. California/American Artisan
  4. Sicilian
  5. Neapolitan

The South

  1. New York Style
  2. Traditional America
  3. Sicilian
  4. Deep Dish
  5. Neapolitan

The Midwest

  1. Traditional America
  2. Chicago Thin
  3. New York Style
  4. Deep Dish
  5. Detroit

The Northeast

  1. New York Style
  2. Sicilian
  3. Traditional America
  4. Neapolitan
  5. Grandma

Top Pizza Toppings, Nationally and Regionally

We’re almost to the cheeses. First, a recap of the most popular items to put on top of cheese.

Well, unless we’re talking a stuffed pizza. Click here and scroll to Deep Dish to see what I mean.

Now, the top toppings across the US.

  1. Pepperoni
  2. Sausage
  3. Mushroom
  4. Extra Cheese
  5. Bacon
  6. Chicken
  7. Onion
  8. Red/Green Bell Pepper
  9. Ham
  10. Black Olives
  11. Meatballs
  12. Canadian Bacon
  13. Jalapenos
  14. Pineapple
  15. Beef
  16. Basil
  17. Banana Peppers
  18. Fresh garlic
  19. Tomatoes
  20. Spinach

Below, how toppings break down regionally.

The West

  1. Pepperoni
  2. Sausage
  3. Mushroom
  4. Chicken
  5. Bacon

The South

  1. Pepperoni
  2. Sausage
  3. Mushroom
  4. Extra cheese
  5. Bacon

The Midwest

  1. Pepperoni
  2. Sausage
  3. Mushroom
  4. Bacon
  5. Onion

The Northeast

  • Pepperoni
  • Sausage
  • Mushroom
  • Extra cheese
  • Bacon

Top “New” Cheeses

Okay, so we’ve reviewed top pizza styles. We’ve done a recap for toppings.

So, what are some of the top “new” cheeses going onto those pizza styles and being covered in all those toppings?

It may seem odd the refer to the cheeses below as “new.” In this context, “new” means, “not mozzarella” or “not provolone,” for the most part. Or, if you’re in St. Louis, “not Provel.”

  • Ricotta
  • Cheddar
  • Fresh Mozzarella
  • Goat Cheese
  • Parmigiano Crema
  • Cotija Cheese
  • Scamorza
  • Vegan Cheese
  • Blue Cheese
  • Feta

Guests love personalization, and they love the opportunity to try new foods and new takes on foods they know.

Scamorza

For the most part, you’re likely familiar with all the cheeses above. However, if you’re like me, you may be unfamiliar with scamorza. If that’s the case, I looked into it for both of us.

Like mozzarella, scamorza is made from either stretched cow or water buffalo milk cheese curds. This cheese originates from Italy and comes in two styles: scamorza bianca or and scamorza affumicata. The former is white or natural, while the latter is smoked and brownish in appearance.

Further, bianca is a mild, somewhat sweet cheese. Affumicata, being smoked, delivers a more savory and, as one would expect, smoky flavor.

Vegan Cheese

If you aren’t offering vegan or plant-based cheese for your pizzas, you may not know what brands to use.

Well, don’t worry. I’ve also done some legwork into this topic.

Brands to check out are Violife, Diya, Chao, and Miyoko’s. As plant-based alternatives become more commonplace and expected by guests, I expect more commercial vegan-friendly cheeses to become available. Perhaps we’ll see some at this year’s National Restaurant Association Show.

Image: Pablo Pacheco on Unsplash

KRG Hospitality Start-Up Restaurant Bar Hotel Consulting Consultant Solutions Plans Services

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

5 Books to Read this Month: February 2024

5 Books to Read this Month: February 2024

by David Klemt

Flipping through an open book

Our inspiring and informative February book selections will help you and your team transform your operations, business acumen, and F&B programming.

This month, we look at books covering an array of topics: design; learning to negotiate better; learning cocktail balance and build techniques; and finding your inner chef.

To review the book recommendations from January 2024, click here.

Let’s jump in!

Biophilic Design: The Theory, Science and Practice of Bringing Buildings to Life

This book was co-authored by the late Stephen R. Kellert, one of the developers of the biophilic design methodology. To learn more about biophilic design, click here. Then, pick up this book.

From Amazon: “This book offers a paradigm shift in how we design and build our buildings and our communities, one that recognizes that the positive experience of natural systems and processes in our buildings and constructed landscapes is critical to human health, performance, and well-being. Biophilic design is about humanity’s place in nature and the natural world’s place in human society, where mutuality, respect, and enriching relationships can and should exist at all levels and should emerge as the norm rather than the exception.”

The Cocktail Balance

Written by Stanislav Harcinik, The Cocktail Balance is about more than building cocktails. Readers will learn about the role senses play in cocktails and balance, along with presentation and service.

From thecocktailbalance.com: “My work isn’t focused solely on experienced bartenders, students are part of the target group. By including potential new bartenders, this book wishes to push the upcoming students into a broader, more creative mindset. The book itself is divided into 3 main sections – theory, practical part and legacy from the best bartenders in Slovakia. Theory, contains the basics and building blocks that allow the development of a professional approach, it also focuses on how to present yourself and how to take care of guests. Whereas in the practical section, readers will be able to learn to price a cocktail and to effectively go through a structured creative process. Other chapters also include gastrophysics and neurogastronomy. In other words how an aroma, a physical characteristics, a sound as well as visual stimulation affect the final flavour of a cocktail, and create a comprehensive and unforgettable experience for guests.”

Pick up your copy today.

Craft Cocktails at Home: Offbeat Techniques, Contemporary Crowd-Pleasers, and Classics Hacked with Science

Some bar professionals and guests like to understand the “why” behind what they consume. Why does this taste good? Why and how do certain processes affect spirits? Kevin Liu’s book answers these questions, and more. On top of that, there are 65 recipes to try.

From Amazon: “In Craft Cocktails at Home, you’ll embark upon a one-of-a-kind journey as you learn how to make some of the world’s most innovative, unique, and delicious cocktails. Taste scientists, engineers, and talented bartenders with decades of experience all contributed their expertise to create this must-have guide for novices and professionals alike. Ever wondered what makes water taste good? Curious about what really happens during the barrel-aging process? Interested in which “molecular” ingredients have the best texture? These questions and more, answered inside.”

Order the paperback here.

The Forgotten Chef

Simply put, this book is intended to inspire younger generations to pursue cooking as a career. If you know someone who has an interest in cooking but hasn’t taken steps to become a chef, this is the book you should gift them.

From Amazon: “The book moves quickly through food stories, tips and techniques to inspire and ignite the passion of its targeted reader. Through anecdotal food related stories, the book covers important topics such as the right mindset for cooking success, quality over quantity, kitchen organization (mise en place), kitchen tools (the Dirty Thirty), the celebrity chef conundrum (why people get discouraged in their cooking journey), introduction to knife skills/care, cookbook basics, food preservation and safety and other fun chapters such as saving Grandma’s recipes from extinction, the lost art of sharing (food), and the new-old method of cooking, sous vide.”

Click here to order the paperback.

Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In

Everyone needs to know how to negotiate. It’s a valuable skill not just for business but for life in general. Getting to Yes is a how-to manual that teaches you the art of negotiation, a skill you’ll need to develop if you’re an entrepreneur, aspiring business owner, or professional looking to progress in their career. And, as I’ve already said, it will help you in situations you’ll find yourself in outside of business.

From Amazon: “Getting to Yes offers a proven, step-by-step strategy for coming to mutually acceptable agreements in every sort of conflict. Thoroughly updated and revised, it offers readers a straight- forward, universally applicable method for negotiating personal and professional disputes without getting angry-or getting taken.”

Get it today.

Image: Mikołaj on Unsplash

Bar Nightclub Pub Brewery Operations Standard Operating Procedures SOP

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Top 11 Pizza Styles Going Into 2024

Top 10 Pizza Styles Going Into 2024

by David Klemt

Pizza being put into a pizza oven

Pizza-centric publication Pizza Today‘s 2024 industry trends report contains an incredible amount of information, including the top pizza styles in North America.

There’s a tie for the tenth spot on their ranking, so I dive into 11 styles of pizza in this article. As you’ll see, having grown up in the area, I have a lot of thoughts on Chicago’s pizza styles.

This is one of the most fun topics I’ve ever researched and I hope you find this information helpful for your restaurant or bar.

Cheers!

Top Pizza Styles

10 Chicago Thick (tie)

Because Deep Dish is also on this list, I’m going to assume Pizza Today means Pan pizza. If this is accurate, it’s the cooking vessel that’s the big difference.

Whereas Deep Dish is cooked in a cast-iron pan, Chicago-style Pan pizza is cooked in either a cake pan or cast-iron skillet. Another difference is the resulting crust: Deep Dish features a thick, pie-like crust, while Pan has a medium-thick crust that’s similar in texture and chew to bread.

One more big difference comes down to the layering of the ingredients. In a Pan pizza, the traditional order is followed: sauce goes on the crust, cheese goes on the sauce, and additional ingredients go on top of the cheese.

10 NEOpolitan / Neo-Neapolitan (tie)

As the name implies, this is a modern variation of the classic Neapolitan or Napoletana style. It’s also sometimes referred to as Neo-Classica.

The biggest overall difference between this style and its traditional counterpart is the adherence to strict rules. NEOpolitan eschews several rules, which you’ll find further down the list in this article.

Some deviations include oven style (NEOpolitan doesn’t require a wood-burning oven); temperature (700-730° F); cook time (120-150 seconds); and ingredients (anything goes).

9 California / American Artisan

The base of a California-style pizza is an Italian- or New York-style crust. From there, the tenets of California cuisine take over.

This style focuses on highlighting fresh, local, seasonal ingredients. So, think traditional crust with nontraditional ingredients when considering this style.

As far as the American Artisan designation, California style falls into this categorization. An artisan pizza is made by hand without the use of automation, so American Artisan is a style uniquely, well, American.

8 Grandma

The Grandma-style pizza is thought to come to us from Long Island, New York.

This simple style is usually rectangular due to being cooked in a sheet pan, and the pan is oiled heavily. The order of ingredients is crust, cheese, tomato sauce. However, these pizzas are often finished with a garlic-infused olive oil, oregano, and Pecorino Romano cheese.

Grandma pizza is thicker than New York-style but nowhere near as thick as Detroit, Sicilian, or Deep Dish. It’s cut into squares before being served.

7 Detroit

According to Pizza Today, this is the fastest-growing pizza style in America.

As the story goes, this descendant of thick Sicilian-style pizza was created in a speakeasy in mid-1940s Detroit. The owner of Buddy’s Rendezvous, Gus Guerra, wanted to add something new to his neighborhood bar’s menu. The history is a bit hazy regarding where he got the recipe for a Sicilian pizza, but he cooked it in a few (hopefully unused) deep, steel industrial pans from a friend who worked in a factory.

So, a traditional Detroit pizza is a Deep Dish cooked in a deep, rectangular, steel pan. The original version calls for a rich tomato sauce and Wisconsin brick Cheddar cheese topped with pepperonis, all cooked at 230° F. As for layers, it goes crust, pepperonis, sauce, then cheese, traditionally. Once the cheese is caramelized, any additional toppings are placed on top, along with more red sauce. On the Detroit pizzas I’ve had, the red sauce on top consisted of one horizontal stripe and one vertical.

If you think things are too quiet and boring while you’re hanging out at a restaurant that serves Detroit-style or Chicago-style Deep Dish pizza, comment loudly that one is better than the other and the “true” or “superior” Deep Dish.

Fun trivia: Domino’s, Little Caesars, and Hungry Howies are all from Michigan.

6 Chicago Thin

If you want to start a passionate debate, walk into a bar serving Chicago Thin or Tavern-style pizza and say it’s the city’s true style.

Half (or perhaps more) of the Chicagoans within earshot will agree with you. Others, not so much.

At any rate, this pizza is known for its thin, cracker-like crust. It’s round and will be cut into square before being served.

Oh, and if you’d like to start another “spirited” argument, mention St. Louis when talking about Chicago Thin or Tavern-style pizza. Some people from “the Gateway to the West” like to Amedeo Fiore invented this style. However, people from the south side of Chicago will let you know in no uncertain terms that the style didn’t find its way to St. Louis until after Fiore moved there from “the Windy City.” Further, Chicago’s (original) version consists of a dough made with yeast paired with mozzarella cheese. St. Louis style is made without yeast and features Provel cheese.

5 Neapolitan / Napoletana

This is arguably the pizza style with the strictest rules. For example, these pizzas must be cooked in a word-burning oven at 800° F for 90 seconds.

All of the ingredients must originate from Italy. Additionally, no more than three ingredients may be used for a single pizza.

Further, all Neapolitan or Napoletana pizzas must be finished with extra-virgin olive oil and fresh basil.

4 Deep Dish

People outside of Chicago likely believe the city’s pizza style is called Deep Dish. Unfortunately, that’s a prevalent misconception. Of course, it doesn’t help that Deep Dish is a Chicago invention, leading to most people thinking that Chicago Style and Deep Dish are synonymous. Yes, Chicago Deep Dish is a style, but so are Stuffed and Pan.

I’m going to take a stab at understanding what Pizza Today means when they refer to Deep Dish. Forewarning: I could be wrong.

Speaking generally, a Deep Dish pizza is cooked in an oiled cast-iron pan. Essentially, it’s a pie. The flaky crust is high (two inches isn’t uncommon) and the person prepping the pizza changes the traditional order of the layers. Unlike a traditional or Pan pizza, the order for a Deep Dish pizza is crust, cheese, sauce, other toppings. This approach to layering is to avoid burning the cheese since these pizzas spend so much time in ovens.

Now, if Pizza Today means Stuffed, there’s a bit of a difference between than that and Deep Dish. First, Stuffed is made in a pan even deeper than those that produce Deep Dish pizzas. Second, an extra layer of crust covers much more cheese than you’ll find in a Deep Dish pizza, and this layer is covered in sauce. So, the order is crust, toppings, lots of cheese, crust, sauce.

3 Sicilian

This is a style of pizza originating from, you guessed it, Sicily. Moreover, it’s one of the most traditional types of pizza…when we’re talking about Sicilian versus New York Sicilian.

For the former, the pizza is characterized by a square, thick, spongy dough. The sauce is made with tomato, onion, anchovy, and herbs. From what I understand, the sauce also contains no meat.

Traditionally speaking, hard goat or sheep’s cheese is grated on top, and the pizza is also topped with breadcrumbs.

When it arrived in America, tomato sauce and mozzarella replaced the traditional sauce and hard cheeses. This development very likely comes down to the ease of finding readily available and affordable ingredients. Additionally, some people made round Sicilian pizzas rather than square.

2 Traditional American

Simply put, Traditional American pizza is just a slightly different version of New York style.

It’s a bit thicker than New York, but it still has the raised “border” encircling it. Often, this style features more cheese than its Big Apple counterpart.

A Traditional American pizza can be hand-tossed, pressed, or hand-formed.

1 New York

Unless you’re from Chicago or Detroit, this is probably what you think of when you think “pizza.”

A New York pizza is hand-tossed, large, and defined by its characteristic thin crust. The slices tend to be extra large and capable of being folded for eating on the go. In fact, I once watched two friends, one from New York and one from Chicago, almost come to blows when the former threatened to attempt to fold his slice of Deep Dish in front of the latter. They had to be separated.

Traditionally, there are just two toppings on the crust: tomato sauce and cheese. However, these pizzas are a blank slate for all manner of toppings.

Top Trending Styles

As you’ll see, there’s a tie for second place as far as the trending pizza styles in 2024, according to Pizza Today.

  1. Chicago Thin
  2. New York
  3. Sicilian
  4. Deep Dish and Grandma (tie)
  5. Detroit

Per the pizza-centric publication, this is Detroit’s second year as the reigning trending pizza style.

Now that you know the top pizza styles in North America, know this: Pizza Today’s data indicate that today’s consumer expect to be able to order multiple styles of pizza from one pizzeria. Develop your menu accordingly.

Image: Fabrizio Pullara on Unsplash

KRG Hospitality. Restaurant Business Plan. Feasibility Study. Concept. Branding. Consultant. Start-Up.

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

The Shrinking Globe: 2024 Food Trends

The Shrinking Globe: 2024 European Food Trends

by David Klemt

Loaded sweet potato fries bowl

It should come as no surprise that 2024 F&B trends are similar throughout Europe and the UK to those taking hold in North America.

Why do I refer to Europe and the UK separately? I’m aware that the UK is part of Europe. Regionally, one can think of the nation as northwestern Europe.

However, while geographers consider the UK part of Europe, many citizens of the UK don’t see things that simply. So, that’s why I mention the continent and nation separately.

With that out of the way: 2024 F&B trends. People like to say that the world is getting “smaller,” that the devices in our hands are making everything more accessible. That certainly seems to be the case with food and drink.

What you’ll likely notice is that the trends below follow what experts predict for North America rather closely. As David Allison says, people have far more in common with one another than they have differences.

The Consumer

Plants

I think it’s fair to say that plant-based diet mockery is defined by two characteristics.

One, people seem to aim their ridicule toward Americans. And two, it’s cliché at this point.

Much of the world already embraces plant-based diets. That doesn’t mean they’re only either vegetarian or vegan, either.

Estimates for how much of the world consists of flexitarians can reach over 40 percent. This particular diet limits or restricts the intake of animal-based foods. However, it’s not like veganism; flexitarians do consume some animal products. One can say that it’s a very individual diet. In fact, I doubt many flexitarians actually refer to themselves with that label.

Interestingly, though, plant-based brands must innovate if they’re going to succeed with consumers in Europe and the UK.

Hey, what do you know? That’s how it is in North America.

Now that plant-based protein alternatives are here to stay, people want to see innovative analogs.

They’ve seen nuggets and fingers. Burgers and patties aren’t anything new. People want plant-based counterparts for everything: seafood, steak, pork, etc.

Health & Wellness

Here’s a frighteningly hot take: People in Europe and the UK are concerned with their health. Shocking!

For the past few years, much has been made about North Americans and their “renewed” focus on their health and wellness. This is, of course, for obvious reasons.

Well, we can say the same about Europeans and Britons.

Generally speaking, people are trying to reduce their intake of processed foods. This ties to the section above in that many plant-based foods are highly processed. Brands will need to address this to achieve long-term success.

Along with avoiding processed foods, consumers in Europe and the UK are seeking out dishes that are higher in protein and fiber.

Across generations and Europe, people realize that a healthy diet is the top factor in feeling healthier.

The Operator

Happy Balance

Europeans and Britons have centuries upon centuries of history and tradition to contend with throughout their countries.

In some markets, this can lead to conflict or the misconception that operators can’t innovate.

This is, of course, an outdated way of thinking.

Whether operating in the UK or Europe, operators are embracing tech and finding ways to honor tradition while experimenting with the modern.

From the back of the house to the front, chefs and bartenders are drawing inspiration from culinary traditions. However, they’re also getting creative to put their own spins on the menu.

Perhaps more importantly, the guests they’re serving want to try these innovations.

From consumer-facing tech that enhances their visits to creative menu items that find inspiration from around the world, today’s guest is hungry and thirsty for what’s new. This is true regardless of how old and traditional a location may be.

Color

Just a few months ago, Frankfurt, Germany, played host to Food Ingredients Europe 2023.

One of the takeaways from last year’s show that stood out to me is the interest in color.

According to one market development specialist, it appears that Gen Z in Europe and the UK are over boring, bland shades. Instead, they want to be colorful.

From interior and physical menu design to food and drink items, European and British operators can deliver on that desire.

Of course, taking one’s concept in a more colorful direction necessitates knowing one’s guests. So, this is where exceptional service despite concept or category and robust tech platforms come into play.

If bold color is authentic to a concept and resonates with the guests, it could be time to reach out to an interior designer.

Speaking of reaching out, if you’re in Europe or the UK, have a concept you want to open or are already open and need some assistance, KRG Hospitality is excited to announce that we’re entering markets within both regions. Please contact uswe’re here to help.

Image: Ella Olsson on Unsplash

KRG Hospitality business plan. Restaurant. Bar. Cafe. Lounge. Hotel. Resort.

Top