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Peppermint is the Latest Flavor Superstar

Peppermint is the Latest Flavor Superstar

by David Klemt

A candy cane surrounded by red smoke in a studio

Just when you think you have a handle on seasonal flavors, along comes the latest and greatest demand from consumers: peppermint.

Perhaps it’s because pumpkin spice shows up earlier each year. Maybe it’s because that hit of frosty peppermint hits the nostalgia button.

It could be as simple as consumers thinking:

  • pumpkin is for fall; and
  • peppermint is for winter.

Regardless, it appears that people are turning their attention to peppermint.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that pumpkin and pumpkin spice are out of favor completely. A recent trip to a grocer with shelves devoid of pumpkin butter and other pumpkin spice flavors show me people are still snapping it up.

And no, it wasn’t a product shift; staff says those products are flying out the door after each restock.

Instead, I think people are just ready for the next thing. In this case, the next flavor thing. And that flavor, it seems, is peppermint.

Considering that pumpkin spice LTOs appeared in early August this year, it makes sense for many consumers to want something new. After all, they’ve had four months to indulge their pumpkin and pumpkin spice cravings. That’s a third of the year.

Peppermint on the Rise

When delving into F&B and hospitality trends I tend to look at Datassential and Technomic. Both are credible, reliable sources of information.

However, I’m turning to another source, Tastewise, to dive into pumpkin spice and peppermint. For the unfamiliar, Tastewise is an F&B insight platform that uses artificial intelligence to collect real-time consumer behavior data.

First up, pumpkin spice. According to Tastewise, the flavor is up nearly 75 percent in terms of social conversations in 2023. Additionally, four percent of restaurants in the US have pumpkin spice items on their menus. That may not sound like a lot, but that’s more than 33,000 restaurants.

Now, let’s look at peppermint. Per Tastewise, social conversations about this frosty flavor are up almost 22 percent this year. However, peppermint liqueur conversations are up just over 77 percent.

Interestingly, according to Tastewise, peppermint items are on almost eight percent of menus in the US. That’s more than 67,000 restaurants, over double the amount of pumpkin spice.

One note: peppermint is not the same as mint. While peppermint is trending (most likely due to seasonal shift), mint is down nearly 109 percent. So, not all mint flavors and items are equal. This seems particularly true at the moment.


Is everyone on social media, talking about food? No, of course not.

It’s important to note, though, Tastewise’s current market overview. At the time of publication, Tastewise is scanning:

  • 8,151,698 people on social media;
  • 57,220,294 social media posts;
  • 937,070 restaurants;
  • 136,278,759 dishes; and
  • 5,878,416 recipes.

Operators can and should take industry insights with a grain of salt. Not every fad, trend or item works for every operator and concept.

However, it’s important to know what consumers are talking about and posting to social media. Being a part of some conversations can be a boon for an operator and their bottom line.

So, if introducing a peppermint LTO (or LTOs) will appeal to an operator’s guestsbecause they take the time to understand them and track their menu item salesand works with their concept authentically, they should consider becoming a part of this conversation.

Image: Shutterstock. Disclaimer: This content was generated by an Artificial Intelligence (AI) system.

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Gen Z Shifting the Restaurant Landscape

Gen Z Shifting the Restaurant Landscape

by Nathen Dubé

People holding phones over a pizza

I think we can admit every demographic snaps pics of their food now.

The next wave of restaurant guests is ready to be won over. Our industry is on the cusp of a monumental shift, and Generation Z is at the helm.

As they come into their own, both socially and economically, this vibrant generation is poised to redefine dining as we know it. With their digital-first mindset, staggering spending power, and penchant for loyalty, Gen Z is a demographic that no restaurant can afford to overlook.

Comprising nearly a quarter of the American economy, Gen Z is a force to be reckoned with. Born in 1993 or later, they command an awe-inspiring $250 billion in spending power.

But what’s truly remarkable is their approach to dining. Generally speaking, eating out is not an occasional indulgence for this generation; it’s a regular part of life.

In fact, the majority of Gen Zers frequent restaurants at least once a week, a statistic that’s all the more astonishing when you consider that many are not even old enough to drive.

As this generation matures and their financial standing improves, they are set to become the next wave of loyal restaurant patrons. To capture their attention and build lasting relationships, restaurants must focus on three pivotal areas: cutting-edge technology, customizable menus/personalization, and one-of-a-kind experiences.

By proactively adapting to meet the unique needs and desires of Gen Z, restaurants can not only win their business but also secure a prosperous future in an ever-evolving industry.

So, the question isn’t whether to adapt to Gen Z. Rather, the question is, how quickly can you do it?

The next generation of restaurant-goers is not just knocking at the door, they’re already here. And they’re ready to dine.


Generation Z is a digitally native cohort, seamlessly integrating smart technology into every facet of their lives—from smart cars to smartphones.

To engage with this generation of guests effectively, it’s imperative for restaurants to have a mobile-optimized online menu. Given Gen Z’s penchant for quick, easily digestible information, a streamlined, fast-loading menu is key.

Highlighting elements like flavors and health-conscious options can serve as compelling selling points.

The Digital Investment Dilemma

While the allure of digital innovation is undeniable, it comes with its own set of challenges, primarily financial.

However, there is good news.

Investing in robust digital systems is essential for ensuring a smooth guest experience. This investment often yields dividends in the form of operational efficiency and heightened customer loyalty—two factors crucial to long-term success.

Gen Z, in particular, is quick to embrace modern conveniences like alcohol delivery and digital ordering, signaling a clear trajectory for the restaurant industry’s future.

Additionally, many innovative tech solutions integrate with platforms operators use currently. Where this is the case, the new tools can enhance operations, automation, marketing campaigns, back of house, etc., which justifies the initial outlay.

Augmented Reality: A New Frontier in Dining

Augmented reality (AR) in the dining space is an emerging trend with boundless potential. Although the initial costs of integrating AR can be steep, the payoff in terms of guest engagement is substantial.

Imagine a dining scenario during which guests can use AR glasses or goggles to access nutritional information about their meal instantly. The possibilities are as limitless as they are exciting.

Staying ahead of the curve with tech ensures restaurants not only attract Gen Z but also offer an enhanced dining experience that sets them apart in a competitive market and attracts guests of all ages.

The future of dining is here, and it’s digital, customizable, and incredibly interactive. Are you ready to be a part of it?

Social Media

When it comes to capturing the attention of Gen Z, social media is a goldmine.

While Facebook may not be their platform of choice, YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok are where they’re most active.

These platforms are ideal for sharing quick, engaging six- to 15-second videos that resonate with Gen Z’s fast-paced and humorous nature. Bear in mind, video not only killed the radio star, it has surpassed static photography as the engagement format of choice.

And don’t underestimate the influence of even the youngest among them; they often have a significant say in family dining decisions.

Social Media: The Modern-Day Word-of-Mouth

In today’s digital landscape, social media isn’t just a platformit’s a potent marketing arsenal.

Gen Z is particularly vocal about their dining experiences, often sharing them online for their followers to see. This user-generated content serves as invaluable, organic marketing that can drive both foot traffic and revenue.

In essence, social media has become the new word-of-mouth, and restaurants should actively encourage this form of authentic promotion.

The WiFi Factor

Offering free WiFi isn’t just a courtesy, it’s strategic.

By becoming a wireless hotspot, you’re also positioning yourself as a dining hotspot.

Free WiFi enables Gen Z patrons to stay connected, even while enjoying a meal with family or friends. They can easily share texts, photos, and perhaps even a glowing review, providing your restaurant with the kind of word-of-mouth advertising that money can’t buy.

By embracing these digital and social strategies, restaurants can not only attract the Gen Z audience but also create a dynamic, interactive dining environment that appeals to all.

The future of the restaurant industry is undeniably digital, and those who adapt will not just survive but thrive. Are you prepared for this exciting new chapter in dining?


The culinary landscape is evolving, and Gen Z is at the forefront of this transformation.

Authentic and Global Flavors: The Culinary Passport

In an era marked by globalization, Gen Z’s palate is as diverse as their worldview.

Their affinity for authentic, global flavors is more than a trend, it’s a reflection of a world where borders are increasingly blurred. As international cuisines become more accessible, they’re also becoming a staple on restaurant menus.

For restaurateurs, this provides an opportunity to diversify and enrich their culinary offerings.

Fusion: The Art of Culinary Innovation

Fusion foods are not merely a passing fad. Truly, fusion is a celebration of culinary creativity.

This trend allows chefs to push the boundaries of traditional cooking, often creating unique, high-value dishes that enhance a restaurant’s revenue potential.

In many ways, fusion embodies the inclusive and diverse spirit of Gen Z, making this culinary approach a hit among this demographic.

Experiential Dining: The Rise of the Experience Economy

The move towards experiential dining is part of a larger shift in consumer behavior, where experiences are valued over material goods.

Restaurants offering interactive experiences like cooking classes, wine tastings, or farm-to-table events are tapping into this lucrative trend.

Gen Z, in particular, is drawn to such experiential dining options, as well as to culinary fusions and fresh, natural ingredients.

A New Wave of Flavors and Dining Options

Unique flavors like yuzu, tamarind, and lemongrass are more than just exotic additions. These flavors and ingredients are becoming mainstream, particularly among Gen Z.

Educational food services, from grade schools participating in the National Restaurant Association’s Kids LiveWell program to college campuses offering “campus cuisine,” are also playing a role.

These institutions are introducing Gen Z to a wide array of international flavors and dietary options, including vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free choices.

By understanding and embracing these trends, restaurants can position themselves as forward-thinking establishments ready to meet the diverse needs and preferences of Gen Z.

The future of dining is here, and it’s as varied, interactive, and global as the generation it serves. Are you ready to be a part of this culinary revolution?

Crafting the Ultimate Customizable Dining Experience

When it comes to dining, Gen Z values customization above all else. They want their meals tailored to their preferences, and they want them now.

While staples like burgers and pizza remain popular, it would be a mistake to pigeonhole their tastes.

According to Technomic’s The Generational Consumer Trend Report, Gen Z has a broader palate, embracing a range of global cuisines like Chinese, Mexican, and pasta at rates higher than any other generation.

A Melting Pot of Influences

This global appetite is more than just a random preference. Rather, it’s a reflection of Gen Z’s diverse background and the adventurous spirit of their Gen X parents.

But the driving force behind it all is the allure of customization.

Imagine a dining table where each person has their own uniquely crafted taco, creating a communal dining experience rich in personalization. This aligns perfectly with insights from Flavor & The Menu’s Generational Flavors report, which highlights the importance of affordability, value, and convenience to Gen Z diners.

The Customization Kings: Why Subway and Chipotle Reign Supreme

It’s no coincidence that eateries like Subway and Chipotle are among Gen Z’s favorites. These establishments have mastered the art of customization while also offering affordability and convenience—three key factors that resonate with this generation.

By recognizing and capitalizing on these trends, restaurants can craft the ultimate dining experience that not only appeals to Gen Z but also sets them apart in a highly competitive market.

The future of dining is customizable, diverse, and incredibly exciting. Are you prepared to meet the demands of this new generation of discerning diners?

Social Responsibility

A Win-Win for Brands and Consumers

For Gen Z, social responsibility isn’t just a buzzword, it’s a way of life. And this focus translates into tangible economic gains for restaurants.

Brands that actively engage in social responsibility have seen a four-percent uptick in sales. This demonstrates that doing good is also good for business.

This generation is more likely to patronize establishments that resonate with their values, making corporate social responsibility not just an ethical imperative but a savvy business strategy.

Health and Wellness: The New Currency

Gen Z’s emphasis on better-for-you options extends to their dining choices.

According to Technomic, features like recycling, sustainable food practices, and health-conscious menu items can significantly boost restaurant traffic.

But it doesn’t stop there.

This generation is willing to pay a premium for quality and health benefits, opening up lucrative revenue streams for restaurants that offer premium, health-focused menus. This is not a fleeting trend but a market shift, propelled by Gen Z’s prioritization of quality over quantity.

Sustainability: The Green Dividend

The push for sustainability is evolving from an ethical stance to an economic imperative. With government incentives encouraging eco-friendly practices and a consumer base willing to pay extra for sustainable options, going green is increasingly profitable.

This creates a virtuous cycle where businesses can contribute to environmental conservation while also boosting their bottom line.

By aligning with these core values—social responsibility, health and wellness, and sustainability—restaurants can attract the discerning Gen Z but also position themselves for long-term success in a rapidly evolving market.

The future of dining is socially responsible, health-conscious, and eco-friendly. Are you ready to embrace it?

The Social Hub

Coffee Shops as Gen Z’s Gathering Grounds

Starbucks and similar coffee shops have become social hubs for Gen Z.

Offering specialty coffee experiences in an adult-like setting, these establishments have become the go-to spots for socializing among those too young for adult beverages.

A Diverse Palette of Beverages

When it comes to drinks, Gen Z’s preferences are as diverse as their food choices.

While soda remains a popular option, this generation is also more inclined than others to opt for healthier alternatives like lemonade, bottled water, fruit juice, and smoothies.

Highlighting these better-for-you options can be a smart move for restaurants looking to cater to this health-conscious demographic.

Nutritional Transparency: A Win for All

In a world where regulatory scrutiny around food labeling is intensifying, transparency is key.

Restaurants that provide nutritional information voluntarily not only cater to the health-focused mindset of Gen Z but also position themselves as responsible businesses in the eyes of both regulators and the broader community.

In Conclusion: The Future of Dining is Here, and It’s Gen Z

As we’ve explored, Gen Z is redefining the dining landscape in numerous ways—from their penchant for customization and global flavors to their focus on social responsibility, health, and sustainability.

By understanding and adapting to these multifaceted preferences, restaurants can not only attract this influential demographic but also set themselves up for long-term success in an ever-changing industry.

The future of dining is not just about food; it’s about creating an experience that resonates with the values and lifestyles of the next generation of consumers.

Are you ready to be a part of this exciting culinary evolution?

Image: Yoav Aziz on Unsplash

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The Pinnacle Guide Launches

New Global Bar Recognition System, the Pinnacle Guide, Launches

by David Klemt

Golden cocktail in Champagne flute on bar top

Today’s the day that the passionate minds behind London Cocktail Week launch “the Michelin Guide” for bars, open to venues across the globe.

Open to submissions as of today, the Pinnacle Guide is open to any bar in the world. Compellingly and refreshingly, the Guide’s system intends to maximize transparency and minimize subjectivity.

Further, the process begins with the self-nomination of a venue. Truly, this is open to any bar, anywhere.

Two of the team’s founders are recent Bar Hacks podcast guests. On episode 105, Hannah Sharman-Cox and Siobhan Payne explain the Pinnacle Guide ahead of its launch today. You can listen to their episode below.

Dan Dove, owner and operator of Global Bartending, completes the Pinnacle Guide’s founder trio. Speaking of trios, Global Bartending’s areas of expertise are strategy, talent, and events.

I’m likely not the only person who has wondered why the Michelin Guide has yet to recognize bars. Now, I’m grateful they haven’t done so.

That’s not a dig at the Michelin Guide. However, the organization’s expertise is restaurants, not bars. It’s far more appropriateand more crediblethat passionate people dedicated to and enamored with bars are launching this recognition system and platform.

The Process

So, what are you in for when you nominate your bar? The process is quite straightforward.

Simply speaking, the

  • Front of house
  • Drinks program(me)
  • Look and feel
  • Staff
  • Operations
  • Community

Once someone who self-nominates their bar completes and submits their application, the anonymous review part of the process begins.

As this step’s phrasing suggests, anonymous reviewers will visit the venue. These reviewers could be industry professionals. They may be passionate, educated consumers whose opinions are valued and trusted.

Either way, they’ll have been vetted, tested, and completed the Pinnacle Guide Reviewer Training Programme.

For even more information, click this link. You’ll find a series of the Pinnacle Guide Round Table Discussions recordings that dive deep into the system as well.

Interestingly, the founders of the Pinnacle Guide believe undergoing the self-nomination process may also help operators enhance or refine their operation:

“Beyond being a measure of excellence, this transparent and detailed approach is also designed to give venues pause for thought on where they may have room for improvement, with the ambition of elevating the industry by encouraging higher standards across the globe.”

Moreover, the Pinnacle Guide doesn’t pit operator against operator, team against team. Should a bar be recognized by the Guide, they’ll be awarded at least one PIN. A single PIN identifies a bar as Excellent. Two carries the Outstanding designation, and three means a venue is Exceptional.

Receiving a PIN doesn’t mean a bar has beaten out another venue to be recognized; that operation stands on its own as one of the best in the world.

Are You Ready?

Thousands of owners and operatorsand the teams that bring their visions to life every daydeserve acknowledgement for meeting the demands this industry makes of them.

From empowering their teams and serving as the backbone of their communities to delivering world-class service and pairing unforgettable experiences with incredible, welcoming atmospheres, hospitality is chock-full of people whose daily contributions should be recognized.

So, to any operator anywhere in the world, if you believe your team has earned at least one Pinnacle Guide PIN, this is your day. However, carve out some time to truly sit with the application and consider your team and venue.

The Pinnacle Guide is a long time coming. Let’s give it the respect it deserves.

Image: Jakub Dziubak on Unsplash

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US Restaurant Employment Still Short

US Restaurant Employment Creeping Toward February 2020 Levels

by David Klemt

Restaurant door handle that says "push"

Keep pushing. We have work to do to reach February 2020 employment levels.

After what appeared to be a strong September 2023, restaurants and bars saw a decline of 7,500 jobs in the month of October.

In fact, the strong numbers from September were notably weaker once revised. After revisions, eating and drinking businesses added 48,300 jobs, not the nearly 61,000 from preliminary reports.

Importantly, a correction in employment numbers for August 2023 has revealed further declines. Initially, reports stated that restaurants had added 14,400 jobs. Unfortunately, the corrected number showed that restaurants shed 9,300 positions.

However, context is important. Notably, the unemployment rate in the US has remained under four percent for nearly 24 months. As of the latest reporting by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, unemployment is at 3.9 percent.

Numbers by Restaurant Category

The data in this subsection comes from the National Restaurant Association. As the NRA notes, this information is based on data from September 2023.

These numbers should provide further context for restaurant and bar’s current situation. Some restaurant categories are struggling more than others to reach or surpass pre-pandemic levels of employment.

Below, employments numbers for September 2023 in comparison to February 2020.

  • Full-service: -214,000 jobs
  • Quick-service and Fast Casual: +128,000 jobs
  • Bars and Taverns: +50,000 jobs
  • Cafeterias and Buffets: -36,600 jobs
  • Catering and Mobile Food Service: +14,900
  • Snack and Non-alcohol Beverage Bars: +107,000 jobs
  • Foodservice Contractors: +15,100 jobs

As you can see, full-service restaurants are struggling the most to reach pre-pandemic employment numbers. However, QSRs and bars have surpassed that milestone.

By the Numbers

Below, the change in employment in each state and Washington, DC. The time period the data span runs from September 2019 to September 2023*.

  • Alabama: -5,700 (-3.4%)
  • Alaska: +100 (+0.4%)
  • Arizona: +18,200 (+7.6%)
  • Arkansas: +7,900 (+8.1%)
  • California: +32,700 (+2.2%)
  • Colorado: +9,100 (+3.8%)
  • Connecticut: -1,200 (-1.0%)
  • Delaware: +2,500 (+6.4%)
  • District of Columbia: -2,500 (-4.5%)
  • Florida: +35,200 (+4.4%)
  • Georgia: +21,800 (+5.5%)
  • Hawaii: -4,900 (-6.9%)
  • Idaho: +7,000 (+11.5%)
  • Illinois: -11,000 (-2.3%)
  • Indiana: +7,900 (+3.2%)
  • Iowa: -200 (-0.2%)
  • Kansas: +4,800 (+4.7%)
  • Kentucky: -400 (-0.2%)
  • Louisiana: -9,000 (-5.2%)
  • Maine: -4,000 (-7.9%)
  • Maryland: -16,700 (-8.0%)
  • Massachusetts: -15,600 (-5.6%)
  • Michigan: -21,400 (-6.3%)
  • Minnesota: -9,000 (-5.2%)
  • Mississippi: -1,700 (-1.7%)
  • Missouri: -3,500 (-1.5%)
  • Montana: +4,500 (+10.7%)
  • Nebraska: +600 (+0.8%)
  • Nevada: +22,300 (+16.7%)
  • New Hampshire: -1,500 (-2.9%)
  • New Jersey: +7,400 (+2.7%)
  • New Mexico: +3,100 (+4.2%)
  • New York: -10,000 (-1.4%)
  • North Carolina: +12,900 (+3.3%)
  • North Dakota: -100 (-0.3%)
  • Ohio: -6,300 (-1.4%)
  • Oklahoma: +3,600 (+2.5%)
  • Oregon: -2,000 (-1.2%)
  • Pennsylvania: -5,600 (-1.3%)
  • Rhode Island: -2,000 (-4.3%)
  • South Carolina: +1,000 (+0.5%)
  • South Dakota: +3,100 (+9.4%)
  • Tennessee: +8,000 (+3.0%)
  • Texas: +74,200 (+6.6%)
  • Utah: +12,900 (+12.0%)
  • Vermont: -1,000 (-4.7%)
  • Virginia: -100 (-0.0%)
  • Washington: +3,900 (+1.5%)
  • West Virginia: -2,600 (-4.6%)
  • Wisconsin: -8,100 (-3.8%)
  • Wyoming: -100 (-0.5%)

Ups and Downs

First, the less-positive news: restaurant employment is below pre-pandemic levels in more than half of the country. Including Washington, DC, 27 states are still lagging behind September 2019.

However, in some cases the change is negligible.

For example, Wyoming is down just 0.5 percent, and Virginia is down just 100 jobs or 0.00033 percent. Of the 27 states seeing declines, 20 are down less than five percent in comparison to September 2019.

Of course, it’s important to note that Hawaii, Michigan, and Massachusetts are down more than five percent.

So, to the good news. Two dozen states are enjoying restaurant and bar employment above September 2019 levels.

Four states are up more than ten percent. Nevada is leading the way, up 16.7 percent. Next is Utah, up 12 percent. Following in third is Idaho, up 11.5 percent.


Restaurant employment’s pre-pandemic peak was in February 2020. As of the most-current data, we’re down 14,000 jobs.

According to the most recent data, restaurants and bars employ 12.32 million people in the US. While we have yet to reach the 12.34 million that were employed in February 2020, we’re not far off. We still have reason to be positive about recovery.

The larger threat looming over operators is rising costs. Additionally, depending on the source, a recession is either a possible or current threat.

Of course, there’s still increasing demand from consumers to gather at restaurants and bars. So, again, there’s reason to remain positive.

This is all to say that numbers without deeper understanding and nuance only provide surface context. They can make us panic or breathe a sigh of relief, seemingly at the drop of a hat. We can either worry that we haven’t reached the pre-pandemic milestone, be positive that we’ll reach that number in the near future, or decide that perhaps that metric shouldn’t be the primary one by which we measure recovery.

In short, operators positioning themselves for long-term success understand their market, their teams, and their guests; focus on staff and guest retention; develop community engagement and support; and have strategic clarity.

*Sources: US Bureau of Labor Statistics, National Restaurant Association

Image: Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

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DoorDash Names 2023 Global F&B Trends

DoorDash Names 2023 Global F&B Trends

by David Klemt

Chef torching salmon sushi

As we get close to winding down 2023 and welcoming 2024, DoorDash takes a shot at identifying the global F&B trends to watch.

This is an exciting and insightful time of year for our industry. In the last quarter, different sources start publishing their data-backed F&B predictions for the year ahead.

Take, for example, Technomic’s Global, Canadian, and American trend predictions for 2023. Oh, and don’t worry—we’ll be taking a look at their predictions for 2024 soon.

Today, however, we’re checking in on DoorDash. Admittedly, I’m not the biggest fan of third-party delivery. It’s no secret I favor direct delivery for operators.

There’s no denying, though, that third-party delivery companies have access to valuable data. From the top food and drink orders to the dayparts seeing the most delivery and pickup order growth, they can help operators see shifts in consumer behavior.

So, I’m happy to take a look at what food trends DoorDash thinks operators should watch moving forward.

Before we jump in, I’m happy that DoorDash includes this cautionary statement in their article: “Finally, always consider whether or not a trend actually fits in at your restaurant.”

At KRG Hospitality, we couldn’t agree more. Jumping on every trend, as tempting as that may be, is unwise and can do harm than good. So, while the lists below identify trends that are gaining traction currently, operators need to be discerning.

Food Trends

Let’s start with a trend multiple sources identified toward the end of 2022 that appears to still be on an upward trajectory: pickles.

Seriously, it seems that people can’t get enough pickles. Pickle pizza appears to the current darling when it comes to this food trend. Speaking of pizza, DoorDash sees square pizzas as a trend to watch.

Another trend that multiple sources have been keeping tabs on is chimichurri. According to DoorDash, this condiment is finding its way onto all manner of food item.

Other food trends that operators should be aware of are bowls (deconstruct a sandwich, burrito, etc., and you have a bowl); oyster mushrooms subbing in for meat; higher-end tinned fish; and gluten-free menu options.

To be honest, I don’t think that last one is just a trend. At this point, offering gluten-free options or entire menus is mainstream.

Now, there are two more food trends I want to address separately. One, smaller menus. This is a trend I believe most operators can and should get behind. Shrinking a menu can result in lower food and labor costs, and a happier team. Making a menu smaller can also make a restaurant more nimble and engaging as LTOs may have more impact.

And then there’s aburi sushi, which is presented after the top of the fish is torched. This gives sushi a smoky flavor and brings in a different texture element.

To be fair, I’ve expected this to take off for the past several years. Now, it appears it’s taking hold and moving from fad to trend.

TikTok Trends

Yes, we have to talk about TikTok. There’s no question that the platform is a trend-producing powerhouse.

Clearly, TikTok has an influence on food trends. If you want to know what your younger guests want to try, check TikTok. The same goes for your guests who are highly engaged with social media influencers.

Below, the trends DoorDash sees taking hold.

  • Chopped sandwiches. Do you have sandwiches on your menu? Can your guests watch as your team makes them? You may want to create a chopped version of your signature or best-selling sandwich.
  • Pasta salad summer. Apparently, this summer was the Summer of Pasta Salad. Specifically, pasta salads made with fresh ingredients, and made without ingredients like mayonnaise.
  • Cottage cheese. According to DoorDash, TikTokers are putting cottage cheese in scrambled eggs, adding it to pasta sauce, and using it to make cheese toasts. I’ve personally tried the TikTok trend of using cottage cheese to make nacho cheese sauce.

One word of caution: TikTok trends come and go in the blink of an eye. So, operators need to hop on trends that work with their restaurant or bar before they’re already out of favor. It’s a daunting task.

To review this DoorDash report in its entirety, including beverage and grocery trends, follow this link.

Image: Ivan Samkov on Pexels

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2023 DoorDash Ordering Trends

2023 DoorDash Ordering Trends: Canada & US

by David Klemt

Canada and the United States of America on a globe

After checking out this year’s annual Cravings Report we’re turning our attention to the 2023 DoorDash restaurant ordering trends reports.

Luckily, there are two reports available from DoorDash: one that focuses on Canada, and one for the US.

These two countries are, of course, KRG Hospitality’s primary markets. So, the data in these DoorDash reports is relevant and compelling for our current and future clients.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Canadian and American DoorDash users are somewhat similar by a few metrics. However, where there are differences they’re fairly glaring.

For example, 78 percent of Canadian DoorDash survey respondents picked up a takeout order from a restaurant in the month prior to being surveyed. That number is 76 percent for American survey respondents.

Regarding in-person restaurant dining, 62 percent of respondents had done so the month prior. Among American survey respondents that number is 61 percent.

But when it comes to placing an order for delivery we see a notable difference. For Canada, 58 percent of survey respondents had ordered delivery. That number jumps to 77 percent among Americans.

This tells me a few (fairly obvious) things. Generally speaking, it appears consumers in Canada and America—according to DoorDash—prefer delivery and takeout to in-person dining. Going further, it seems that overall, Canadians prefer pickup or takeout to delivery. However, Americans seem to place delivery and pickup orders at nearly identical rates.

If it’s true that consumers favor delivery or takeout to in-person dining currently, there could be a couple of simple reasons. First, convenience.

Second, fees. It’s possible that today’s consumer perceives delivery fees are lower than in-person dining fees, unfortunately. If that’s the case, third-party delivery services can exploit this perception.

More Similar than Different

In comparing both DoorDash reports, I find that Canadian and American consumers who use DoorDash are rather similar.

Survey respondents in both countries indicate that Friday is the most popular day of the week to order food. Further, 6:00 PM is the most common local time to place orders in both countries.

And when it comes to the fastest-growing dayparts for order placement? In both Canada and the US it’s late-night and breakfast. Although, I most note that both dayparts are growing faster in Canada.

Nearly half of American respondents and a little over half of Canadian respondents indicate they want to try new restaurants and dishes.

Definitely not surprisingly, consumers in both countries primarily focus on menu selection and pricing when seeking a new restaurant to try. In fact, these numbers are identical for Canadians and Americans, at 55 percent and 51 percent, respectively.

Top Canadian Food Orders

When we look at the top items ordered via DoorDash, we don’t find anything out of the ordinary.

  1. Burgers
  2. Fries
  3. Pizza
  4. Salad
  5. Sandwiches

Looks like standard fare and comfort foods to me. This tells me that operators who have these items on their menus need to ensure they’re of the highest quality to stand out from other restaurants and bars.

Top American Food Orders

Interestingly but not too surprisingly, the list below is quite similar to the list above.

  1. French fries
  2. Burgers
  3. Tacos
  4. Salad
  5. Pizza

With the exception of tacos and sandwiches, the list is nearly identical.

Hey, who wants to debate whether tacos and sandwiches are in the same food family?

I encourage you to review both reports in their entirety for yourself. For the Canadian Edition of DoorDash’s report, click here. And click here for the US edition.

Image: Lara Jameson on Pexels

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by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

5 Books to Read this Month: November 2023

5 Books to Read this Month: November 2023

by David Klemt

Flipping through an open book

Our inspiring and informative November book selections will help you and your team transform your operations and F&B programming.

This month, we look at a new branding and marketing book. We also dive into agave spirits and cuisine from the Canadian Prairies.

There’s an eye-opening exploration into the topic of technology, culture, and the “alignment problem,” as well.

To review the book recommendations from October 2023, click here.

Let’s jump in!

The Restaurant Marketing Mindset: A Comprehensive Guide to Establishing Your Restaurant’s Brand, from Concept to Launch and Beyond

If you haven’t had the opportunity to hear Chip Klose speak, look into his books. His latest The Restaurant Marketing Mindset, came out in early October. As the title suggests, this book is for anyone who’s struggling with branding and marketing, or who simply wants a fresh perspective on this crucial element of operations.

From Amazon: “Restaurants boast some of the highest failure rates of any industry, yet even worse is the sheer number of concepts that struggle just to break even. In The Restaurant Marketing Mindset, Chip Klose introduces a series of mindset shifts and actionable frameworks to help owners and operators finally take control of their marketing.

With more than twenty years of operational experience—plus an MBA in food marketing—Klose has the authority, experience, and track record needed to speak confidently on the subject. Each lesson stacks one on top of the other, giving the reader a step-by-step plan to attract more diners, retain those diners, and spark word of mouth with the ones who matter most.

This book is for any chef, owner, or operator who’s ever felt overwhelmed when it comes to marketing their restaurant. Each chapter is filled with powerful insights to help you build a more profitable (and sustainable) business.”

Pick it up today!

Prairie: Seasonal, Farm-Fresh Recipes Celebrating the Canadian Prairies

This engaging cookbook features 1oo traditional and creative recipes highlighting Canadian Prairie cuisine. These seasonal, farm-to-table recipes are sure to impress your guests.

From Amazon: “No matter the season, the Prairies are all about preserving every ounce of food, so of course there’s also tons of helpful tips and tricks on reducing food waste. There’s even a Staples chapter with recipes for stocking your pantry to keep you cooking all year long. Both a love letter to Canada’s grandest provinces and an indispensable collection of recipes, Prairie is as inviting and bountiful as the region it celebrates.”

Agave Spirits: The Past, Present, and Future of Mezcals

The authors of this informative book visited eight Mexican states to learn all they could about mezcal. By extension, they learned not only about traditional production but also where this hugely popular spirits category is headed for the future.

From Amazon: “The result of the authors’ fieldwork and on-the-ground interviews with mezcaleros in eight Mexican states, Agave Spirits shows how traditional methods of mezcal production are inspiring a new generation of individuals, including women, both in and beyond the industry. And as they reach back into a rich, centuries-long history, Nabhan and Suro Pinera make clear that understanding the story behind a bottle of mezcal, more than any other drink, will not only reveal what lies ahead for the tradition―including its ability to adapt in the face of the climate crisis―but will also enrich the drinking experience for readers.”

The Alignment Problem: Machine Learning and Human Values

When we build automated systems, we’re placing a lot of trust in our expertise. And because humans are fallible, the systems we build are far from perfect.

From Amazon: “Today’s ‘machine-learning’ systems, trained by data, are so effective that we’ve invited them to see and hear for us—and to make decisions on our behalf. But alarm bells are ringing. Recent years have seen an eruption of concern as the field of machine learning advances. When the systems we attempt to teach will not, in the end, do what we want or what we expect, ethical and potentially existential risks emerge. Researchers call this the alignment problem.”

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

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. Business Coach. Restaurant Coach. Hotel Coach. Hospitality Coach. Mindset Coach.

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Program for Unique Holidays: November 2023

Program for Unique Holidays: November 2023

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 November 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 October 2023 holidays list, click here.

November 3: National Jersey Day

This is an easy one. MLB, the NBA, NHL, NFL, NCAA Football… All of these and more are in regular season play at the moment.

Establish your bar as the place to watch and play fantasy sports to develop a loyal guest base. One way to really get your guests engaged is to get them to wear their jerseys, and this holiday is the “official” day for them to do so.

November 5: Zero Tasking Day

Sure, multi-tasking and the people who claim to have mastery over it are impressive. But you know what’s even more impressive? Taking the time to nothing but relax.

You know what’s an excellent place to check out, relax, and indulge? Your restaurant, bar, or nightclub.

November 6: National Nacho Day

No, nachos aren’t the world’s most unique food. However, your approach and presentation can certainly help you stand out from other operators.

Go highest. Go largest. Go most unusual ingredients. Go most premium toppings. Just go wild.

November 11: National Metal Day

Anyone who knows me knows that metal holds a special place in my life. In fact, I recently hit the Pearl Theater inside the Palms for the Dethklok + BABY METAL “BABYKLOK” tour stop in Las Vegas.

This is the day for you to encourage the metalheads among your guests to show up to your bar or restaurant. Create an LTO featuring metal spirit brands, like Slipknot Iowa Whiskey and Metallica’s Blackened Whiskey.

November 14: National Pickle Day

If your kitchen can pickle it, this is the holiday to have them create an LTO menu showing off their skills.

November 16: National Use Less Stuff Day

Sustainability and ethical business practices aren’t just trendy anymore. Many of today’s guests want to know they’re supporting businesses that have a plan to address waste.

If you’ve been developing a sustainability plan, this is the day to launch it. Look at your operations, look at your menu, and see where you can make small but impactful changes.

November 20: National Absurdity Day

Do you have an “absurd” idea for a promotion, menu item, design feature, or branding exercise? Tighten up that idea and execute it on National Absurdity Day.

You can also check out one of our KRG Concepts, Absurd! Kitchen Co., for a turn-key restaurant concept.

November 22: DrinksGiving

As operators know, the Wednesday before Thanksgiving has traditionally been the busiest bar night of the year. Whether you call it Thanksgiving Eve or DrinksGiving, this is your opportunity to pull out all the stops.

November 25: National Small Business Day

This is the perfect holiday to highlight all the small, craft, and independent F&B brands you work with at your restaurant or bar. Feature local artisans, spirits and beer producers, farmers, and more on your menu to help them and you generate more business.

November 30: National Mason Jar Day

I don’t know what it is but drinking from a mason jar, whether there’s a delicious cocktail, moonshine, or a soft drink inside it, is just a cool experience.

Of course, you can also get creative with starter, side, and dessert presentations inside mason jars.

Image: Ivan Bertolazzi on Pexels

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by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

2023 Cravings Report: “The Most” Orders

2023 Uber Eats Cravings Report: “The Most…” Orders

by David Klemt

Kentucky Fried Chicken packaged for delivery or pickup

Let’s take a look at the top orders, delivery requests, order combinations, surprising pairings, and more from the 2023 Uber Eats Cravings Report.

It appears that the chicken sandwich dominance we’ve seen over the years is winding down. At least, that seems to be the case among Uber Eats users.

As you’ll see below, not only is the chicken sandwich not the most popular item, it’s not even among the top five. It does edge out the cheeseburger and wings among the most popular combos, but it doesn’t outperform French fries and salt as a combo.

Another eyebrow-raising detail? Pizza doesn’t show up anywhere among the most ordered items, most popular combos, or even the most surprising combos.

Now, if you’re curious about the 2022 Uber Eats Cravings Report, you’re in luck. You can click here for the top food orders from that report, and here for the top beverage orders.

The Most…Ordered Items

  • French fries
  • Garlic naan
  • Pad Thai
  • Miso soup
  • California roll

Am I the only one who expected to see burgers, chicken sandwiches, and pizza on this list?

The Most…Popular Combos

  1. Burrito bowl + cheese
  2. French fries + salt
  3. Chicken sandwich + shredded lettuce
  4. Cheeseburger + mustard
  5. Wings + ranch

Fairly standard, really. Every one of these orders makes complete sense. Now, the category coming up next…it’s a different story.

However, before we move on, let’s compare these items to those found on the 2022 Uber Eats Cravings Report.

Interestingly, the number-one item is nearly identical: burrito + cheese. And French fries + salt is the second most-popular item on both lists.

The Most…Surprising Combos

  1. Steak + jelly
  2. Cottage cheese + mustard
  3. Condensed milk + avocado
  4. Seaweed + pasta sauce
  5. Butter + pickled onions

I really have nothing to say after reviewing this short list. I mean…hey, do your thing, everyone. Make your order yours.

To the operators out there, be ready for some odd order combos.

The Most…Popular Requests

  1. No onions
  2. Dressing on the side
  3. Ranch
  4. Extra soy sauce
  5. Spicy
  6. Sauce on the side
  7. No lettuce
  8. No jalapenos
  9. Extra gravy
  10. No slaw

Looking at the top request, Uber Eats has a theory as to what’s driving it: the return to the office.

People, it appears, are self-conscious about their breath in an in-person, face-to-face setting.

The Most…Popular Food and Alcohol Combos

  1. Ribeye + Vodka
  2. Cheeseburger + Frozen Margarita
  3. Chicken + Frozen Piña Colada
  4. Lobster tail + Apple whiskey
  5. Tamales + Daiquiris

Last year’s report reveals the following combos:

  1. Steak + Margaritas
  2. Pizza + White Claw
  3. Burritos + Margaritas
  4. Chicken + Sangria
  5. Wings + Beer

Overall, a lot of change from the 2022 Cravings Report to this year’s report.

Image: Nik on Unsplash

Bar Nightclub Pub Brewery Menu Development Drinks Food

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Last-minute Halloween Cocktails!

Last-minute Halloween Cocktails!

by David Klemt

Jameson Irish Whiskey Witches' Brew cocktail

If you perhaps let Halloween preparations get by you, have no fear: here are three Jameson Irish Whiskey cocktails that pair well with different candies.

These aren’t just any three cocktails, however. Instead, Jameson is recommending these drinks because they happen to pair well with three distinct flavors:

  • Tart and sour;
  • sweet; and
  • chocolate.

Makes sense, right? As guests arrive, hopefully in costumes, they may bring candy with them. Or, you may be serving up some mini-candies along with the drinks crossing your bar.

Either way, the drinks below will enhance the guest experience by pairing with an array of candies.

Cheers! Or, boo! Whatever you think is clever, I dunno.

Tart & Sour

Let’s say a guest is munching on some SweeTARTS, Sour Patch Kids, or Warheads. Basically, they’re enjoying tart and/or sour candies this Halloween.

The drink below, according to Jameson, will pair well with those candy flavors.

Jameson Irish Whiskey Witches' Brew cocktail

Witches’ Brew

Out of these three cocktails, this one requires the most prep. You’re going to steep teabags in boiling water and let it cool.

And if you choose to make your own raspberry syrup, your bar team will have to simmer water with sugar and raspberries for a couple of minutes. This will also have to cool before use.

However, this is a large-format drink, so the following recipe allows you to prebatch before guests descend on your bar.

  • 1 bottle Jameson Irish Whiskey
  • 1 carton Cranberry juice
  • 17 oz. Mint tea
  • 3.5 oz. Raspberry syrup
  • 6 Whole limes
  • 1 Orange
  • 12 Raspberries

Start by filling a large vessel with 17 ounces of boiling water. Add six mint teabags and let steep. Once cool, remove teabags. Juice the limes, slice the orange, and add to the vessel with the raspberries. Add the Jameson, cranberry juice, and syrup. Serve in a rocks glass over ice and garnish with raspberries and lime zest.

To make the syrup: In case you haven’t made syrup before, simply add 250mg of water, 250mg of sugar, and 100 grams of raspberries to a pot or saucepan and boil. After reducing to a simmer for two minutes, remove the pot or pan from heat. Let the syrup steep until cool, strain, bottle, and toss in a fridge.


Does your guest have a sweet tooth? Are they chowing down on sweet, overly sugary candy? Maybe they’re throwing handfuls of candy corn down their gullet.

This is the drink for them!

Jameson Irish Whiskey Blood Rising cocktail

Blood Rising

From the most complex cocktail on this list to a simpler recipe.

Per Jameson, this cocktail is also known as the Blood Boiler.

  • 1 2/3 parts Jameson Black Barrel
  • 1 2/3 parts Lillet Rouge
  • 1 2/3 parts Orange juice
  • 1 1/6 parts Berry Syrup
  • Orange wedge to garnish
  • Berries to garnish

Prepare a rocks glass by placing a large ice cube inside. Combine all the liquid ingredients in the glass over the cube. Stir, then garnish with the orange and berries

To make the berry syrup: See the instructions above for the raspberry syrup.


I mean…chocolate. C’mon, it’s a loaded Halloween candy category. Snickers, Kit Kat bars, Milky Way bars, M&Ms, it doesn’t matter.

If a guest can’t resist the siren song of chocolate, the cocktail below will pair well with chocolatey notes.

Jameson Irish Whiskey Cold Brew Bittersweet Goodbye cocktail

Jameson Cold Brew Bittersweet Goodbye

If you’ve left your Halloween drink menu to the last minute, this is probably the quickest recipe on this list.

  • 1 1/3 parts Jameson Cold Brew
  • 1 1/3 parts Campari
  • 1 part Blood orange juice
  • 3 parts Tonic water
  • 1 Slice of a blood orange or red grapefruit to garnish

Fill a highball with ice, then add the first three ingredients. Add the tonic water and garnish.

Note: Orange also goes well with chocolate, so consider playing with Jameson Orange Whiskey if you have the time.

Images via Jameson Irish Whiskey

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