Trends to Watch in 2013

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Trends to Watch in 2013

JAN/FEB 2013

IN THIS EDITION

Restaurant Tech Trends

Staying Informed and Inspired

Pouring Profits in 2013

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INDUSTRY UPDATE

Trends to Watch in 2013

Hudson Riehle, senior vp, research &

knowledge group, the National Restaurant

Association reports that in spite of numerous

negative pressures and uncertainties in the

operating environment, the outlook

for restaurants in 2013 is, in fact, positive.

“The restaurant industry sales will reach

$660 billion – a record high – up 3.8% from

2012, 0.8% adjusted for inflation.” While he

acknowledges that real growth is not robust,

Hudson is optimistic, based on some enduring

fundamentals. “The restaurant industry is

extremely fortunate in that it offers services

and products consumers actively seek out.

It’s a testament to the industry’s relevance

that consumers continue to spend despite a

host of sustained challenges.” He reports that

pent-up consumer demand to dine out remains

unchanged. “The intrinsic character of the

industry is that its growth is directly connected

to consumers’ ongoing interest in patronizing

restaurants, and is spurred by even slight

employment and income growth.” Hudson

adds that the restaurant industry itself, which

posted the strongest employment growth rate

in eight years in 2012, will contribute again

to U.S. employment growth in 2013, with

industry employment forecast to reach 13.1

million individuals. “There is also pent-up

demand for other industries,” he continues,

“so the challenge for operators is to remain

top of mind.”

“This will be the sixth consecutive year of

economic weakness, so much of controlling

costs and productivity has already been

focused on. Success will depend on growing

sales.” To that end, Hudson emphasizes the

importance of stepping up marketing plans

– making them as targeted and efficient as

possible – which includes an important role

for social media. Additionally, he advises

operators to constantly monitor every aspect

of their operations. “Pretax profit margins

continue to be under pressure; operators

have to focus, in real time, on the metrics of

their operations.” Some of those metrics will

reveal wholesale food price inflation. “The

expectation is that food costs will be higher,

going from +2% to the +4% range. And while

operators can’t pass this along on a one-toone

basis, in terms of menu prices, we will

also see some increases.”

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over 35 years

Hudson singles out off-premise sales as a

growth opportunity. “Takeout, delivery, drivethrough,

curbside, mobile have been very

important driving industry growth and will

continue to in the next decade. The ability

to offer off-premise options is paramount.”

Regardless of the channel or the segment,

he underscores the importance of delivering

a consistent experience with perceived value,

and of ensuring that food offerings especially

meet and exceed customer expectations.

Michael Whiteman, president, Baum +

Whiteman, sees 2013 for restaurants

and menus as a morphed, morphed

world – consumers are trading down, menus

are offering options to trade up; meals and

mealtimes are blurring, and foodservice

locations are popping up all over. “Traditional

demarcations in all segments are breaking

down,” says Michael. “Where, when, the style

and with whom we share ‘meals’ are changing.”

“Consumers are trading down like crazy,

bypassing casual dinner houses directly to

fast-casual formats. Those willing to give up

the service of casual (but not necessarily to

the extent of fast food) are looking at fast

casual as the alternative, believing the food

is ‘fresh.’” To stem the tide of people trading

down, Michael says we’ll see more bundled

meals at casual dining chains; at the other end

of the spectrum, “instead of discounting, hot,

upscale independents are charging oodles of

money, especially for whole animal dinners

and ‘dining adventures,’ which are immensely

profitable.” Michael adds that the fine dining

category itself is morphing. “There’s a step

below the temples of gastronomy where the

food is every bit as good; less formal, rigid,

and structured; not much differently priced;

and less an occasion with a capital ‘O.’”

Even menus themselves will blur more. “Fast

food concepts and burger chains are adding

higher-priced options while maintaining

their lower-priced leaders, and there will be

even more customization.” (The danger,

he cautions, is for fast food to edge into fast

casual average checks without delivering the

experience.) In terms of menu categories,

“now, before appetizers, there are snacks.

Sometimes it’s the snack that you have at

4pm, and sometimes two of them make a meal

– a portion option. Multiple snacks now qualify

as an extra meal in America.” In fact, Michael

contends that endless snacking, accounting

for one in five “eating occasions,” is

causing traditional meals to “degenerate

into nibbles and bits.” He observes

that “snacks are becoming increasingly

sophisticated – glorified mini-burgers, wraps

with exotic fillings, upscale dips are building

off-hours traffic. Fast food has also discovered

the snack, meaning something that’s not a

meal that can be eaten in three minutes. A

snack used to be a bag of potato chips; it has

evolved into a whole array of small bites such

as cake bits, mini-dippers, and teeny shakes.”

Dining is also at all hours. “So many people

are commuting and working longer; working

two jobs, non-traditional hours – it’s not from 9

to 5 anymore and 1/3 of the workforce is now

what we used to call ‘freelance.’ So maybe it’s

3pm, you haven’t had lunch yet, and you have

20 minutes to sit with someone. You order three

sliders and a Heineken. Cocktail hour starts at

4pm, breakfast is getting fancified and served

at all hours, food trucks and hotel lobbies

give rise to all-day snacking and drinking,

and McDonalds is pushing restaurants to stay

open later or 24 hours.”

“Hotels are pondering fast-casual takeaway

spaces as their tablecloth restaurants slump,

and juice bars will pop up all over. You

already see fresh foods at some Targets and

Walgreens; 7-Eleven has real butchers and

some have put in small café tables. I think

it’s because consumers are so loose about

where and what they eat that it becomes

possible for anybody to serve food – and

they are. Everybody has discovered that food

is a drawing card.”

For more expert forecasts and trend

information, go to restaurantbriefing.com.

pg 1


INDUSTRY UPDATE

Consumers’ Plans to Spend on Eating Out

“New normal” or not, contemplating even

small, everyday spending decisions has been

part of consumers’ lives since the recession

began. And as the economy continues to

drag and uncertainty prevails, it appears that

spending – especially on nonessentials – will

be scrutinized and consumers will continue to

hold back until they are more comfortable.

Results of a recent Harris Poll, conducted by

Harris Interactive, indicate that there aren’t

dramatic shifts in consumers’ near-term

spending/saving calculations – consumers

have been saying they are cutting back

for years. Still, in November 2012 1/3 of

respondents said they are likely to have

more money to spend the way they want

over the next six months, up from 26% who

said this the year before. Some of that may

go to savings; about half say they anticipate

saving or investing more money in the next

six months.

What’s important to understand is where the

dollars to be spent will be allocated – or not.

Regarding eating out, more than half (59%)

of those surveyed say they plan on reducing

spending in restaurants in the next six months.

While this represents a majority (as it has since

AROUND THE USA

Keeping Up, Staying Inspired

To keep up with what’s going on in the industry

and the world around them, restaurateurs

around the country turn to numerous sources

for information and inspiration:

“In addition to reading about restaurants, I read

about other businesses. I look to the retail world

and figure out what I can adapt. And I pay attention

to what my 15-year-old daughter and her friends

are doing and talking about, what they’re buying,

what they’re doing with their iPhones – they’re

the next generation of customers – as well as

look at things and places guests recommend.”–

Dan McGowan, ceo, Big Bowl, Chicago, IL . . . “I

read magazines like Saveur, Lapham’s Quarterly,

Gastronomica, and keep up with some trade

publications, plus Entrepreneur and Harvard

Business Review. I follow food reporting in the

Wall Street Journal, New York Observer, and

New York Times. I keep up with what’s going on

in the tech world by reading TechCrunch. The

best source of inspiration for me is travel – when

I come back from a trip the staff says, ‘Oh boy,

here we go again.’ I also attend conferences for

entrepreneurs to meet people in other businesses

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Consumers who say they will decrease spending on eating out at restaurants in the next six months

65%

74%

66% 67%

62% 64%

Nov. March May Sept. Dec. May Sept. Jan May Nov. Nov.

2008 2009 2010 2011 2012

Source: The Harris Poll; 2,383 adults were surveyed online between November 14 and 19, 2012 by Harris Interactive. Results shown are consumers “likely”

or “very likely” to reduce spending.

66%

the question was first asked in November of

2008), it is also the lowest the number has

been since the recession began. (The highest

was in March of 2009, when 74% said they

would cut back on dining out.) Consumers are

still making small trade-offs as well – two in

five (41%) say they are brown bagging lunch,

which is about the same as those who said so

in December 2011. (About 20% have stopped

purchasing coffee in the morning; 33% have

switched to refillable water bottles instead of

purchasing bottles of water.)

to learn from them, and am always interested in

hot new business books – two classics I refer to

are The Toyota Way and Good to Great. “– Jeffrey

Zurofsky, co-founder/ceo, ‘wichcraft, New York, NY .

. . “While I do read all the major trade publications,

most ideas and inspiration come from looking at

leaders and ‘best in class’

businesses outside the

restaurant world – those

who have leveraged

technology and new

systems, such as hotels

and other retailers and

those with a similar culture

to ours (Lululemon, Apple).

And, our partners take one

big ‘inspiration trip’ a year –

last year we went to Hong

Kong.” –Nicolas Jammet,

partner, Sweetgreen,

Washington, D.C. . . . “I give

my management teams

(front and back of the

house) an allowance to

dine out and in return they

write reports about their experiences – what they

liked and didn’t like, what we could learn from.

Since a gigantic percentage of our business

63% 61% 61%

Twitter lets me keep up with

what’s going on, as does travel

and eating out. While they don’t

dictate trends, I learn from

something as simple as going to

a museum or paying attention to

what kids are doing. But overall

I try to focus on my interests,

not all the trends and what

others are doing.

– Chris Cosentino, chef/partner, Incanto,

San Francisco, CA

59%

How far into an economic recovery consumers’

ongoing reluctance to spend will continue

remains to be seen. What is currently a reaction

to hard times and/or far-reaching uncertainty

at home and globally could eventually give

way to a new consumer consciousness or

conscience about spending decisions. For

now, restaurants must make the most of those

occasions consumers choose to spend with

them by delivering consistent quality and

high perceived value – hallmarks of any good

restaurant past, present, and future.

involves replicating, I’m especially interested in

how top manufacturing plants work, so I study

car and electronics companies and big restaurant

chains – there’s lots to learn from Starbucks and

McDonalds.” –Sang Yoon, chef/owner, Father’s

Office, Los Angeles, CA . . .”I don’t usually follow

trends – tunnel vision has always worked for

me. I think you have to have that kind of focus

to sustain your staff. I get

inspired traveling abroad

and browsing bookstores,

looking for books about

architecture, design, and

graphics.” –Chef Barbara

Lynch, founder and ceo,

Barbara Lynch Gruppo,

Boston, MA. . . ”I’m always

looking for ideas when I’m

away from the restaurant,

even how my doctor’s

office handles wait times.

I go to the NRA show

every year to catch up on

what’s new and also tap

colleagues for information,

too. It’s not a cutthroat industry, it’s a ‘help each

other’ industry and people share a lot.” –Van

Eure, owner, The Angus Barn, Raleigh, NC.

pg 2


TODAY’S CONSUMER

Demographic Trends: Change is Opportunity

There’s no question that the composition of the U.S. population is constantly shifting, and, as it

does, segments of the consumer marketplace emerge as opportunities. Stepping back and looking

at major national demographic trends – including age, race, marital status, gender, incomes,

education and more – can point restaurateurs to underserved customers and potential new ones,

reveal opportunities for innovation and growth, and aid in understanding the expectations and

needs of both consumers and the workforce.

Demographics are more than statistics. They can help paint a picture of shifting social influences

– changes in the attitudes, values, and lifestyles not only within growing customer segments,

but of our society as a whole. As some populations grow, others shrink as a percentage of the

marketplace and the growing segments gain more influence. But the degree of that influence is

tied to more than their sheer numbers. How receptive mainstream consumers are to a growing

consumer segment – and how positively that segment is viewed – plays an important role.

What follows are some trends with the potential to most impact the environment in which U.S.

businesses – including restaurants – will operate in 2013 and beyond:

EMERGING MINORITY MAJORITY SOCIETY

TREND According to the U.S. Census, in 2011,

for the first time, the majority of babies born

in America were minorities (Hispanic, African

American, Asian, or mixed race). This means

that Non-Hispanic Whites will eventually,

around 2042, constitute less than 50% of the

total U.S. population. The emergence of a new

mainstream consumer is already underway:

Non-Hispanic Whites are the minority in four

states and 22 of the 100 largest U.S. metro

areas. Asian Americans are the fastest-growing

ethnic population, projected to grow by 137%

over the next 40 years. Increases are due in

part to birthrates – while fewer Non-Hispanic

Whites are having children, Hispanic and Asian

Americans are, well above the replacement

rate.

OPPORTUNITY While 41% of Non-Hispanic

Whites express a certain discomfort with the

changing ethnic makeup of the country, there is

enough cultural openness and positive regard

for ethnic differences that the attitudes, values,

preferences, and lifestyle choices of African

Americans, Hispanics, and Asian Americans

will have a strong impact on our culture. Also

because these populations will increasingly

become target consumers for businesses,

it’s important to understand how they differ

from Non-Hispanic Whites, traditionally

considered mainstream consumers. For

example, African Americans and Hispanics

have a greater predisposition to live in the

present moment with a heightened level of

optimism and emotion; more cultural pride; a

stronger community and family orientation; a

greater appreciation for brands that support

their cultural communities; a stronger sense of

greater personal empowerment and success in

the future; and place a greater value on being

first with the inside scoop on lots of things.

In addition, Hispanic and African American

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consumers are more accustomed to coping with

financial uncertainty and so are more resistant

to the effects of a weak economy. According

to The Futures Company, Non-Hispanic White

consumers need a median income of $80K to

feel “ready to spend” while the threshold for

ethnic consumers is $60K; African Americans

and Hispanics tend to have manageable debt,

and a high degree of optimism about their

financial security.

Asian Americans have a higher median income

than Non-Hispanic Whites (over half make more

than $75,000/yr; they represented $718 billion

of disposable income in 2012). They are better

educated and a bit younger than Americans

in general, and are far more tech-savvy and

connected than Non-Hispanic Whites – the vast

majority have broadband at home and almost

all have mobile phones. Attitudinally, they have

a more aggressive success orientation, working

much harder than Non-Hispanic Whites to be

on top of every situation, yet they also struggle

more with finding a work/life balance; they

are more interested in new challenges, and

are much more likely to seek to broaden their

horizons. Additionally, Asian Americans have

dramatically greater environmental concerns

than Non-Hispanic Whites.

CAUTION Where people are born impacts their

points of view. Currently over 60% of Hispanics

in this country were born here rather than having

immigrated; 70% of the growth of the Hispanic

population over the last ten years has been due

to the increase of those born in the U.S. As this

trend continues, the Hispanic marketplace will

be defined more by the values and preferences

of the native-born – less religious, less

connected to their heritage, dramatically more

likely to prefer English in every situation, less

responsive to an outreach based on ethnicity,

and more likely to be attracted to things that

are new and different. In addition, Hispanic

family sizes will decrease and median Hispanic

household income will increase. In contrast to

Hispanics, Asian Americans are mostly foreignborn.

They are also a far more diverse segment

linguistically, religiously, and culturally. (Still,

over 65% of Asian Americans speak English

well or very well.)

GREYING OF AMERICA

TREND Between 2000 and 2010 the number of

people aged 65+ increased from 35 million to

approximately 40 million. In the next 20 years,

the sheer number of Americans 65+ will climb

another 80% to more than 72 million – and

nearly one in five Americans will be 65 or older.

OPPORTUNITY The greying of America may

ultimately pose huge economic challenges

because of the proportion of retirees to wage

earners, but for now older people are staying

in the workforce longer. The Bureau of Labor

reports that the number of workers 65+ has

reached a record high. Working longer will

extend the peak consumer years of older

people and – contrary to traditional thinking –

can make them a more attractive market than

young people, who continue to struggle with

under- or unemployment.

Attitudinally, ours will be an aging society

defined more and more by the Boomer

generation – a Baby Boomer (born between

1946 and 1964) will turn 65 every nine seconds

between now and 2029. Their powerful

influence and sheer numbers will redefine being

a “senior,” as they have for every life stage

Boomers have passed through. This will likely

mean a greater tolerance for risk and more

attraction to new and different experiences

than previous generations of seniors, and a

value they wholeheartedly embrace: a vital and

youthful state of mind. Baby Boomers already

make up half of grandparents and, fueled

by their aging, grandparents will eventually

constitute one-third of the adult population

by 2020. Grandparents are one of the few

consumer segments today with the money and

wherewithal to spend – the Futures Company

reports that grandparents aged 55+ have $2

trillion in disposable income and spend more

than the average American.

CAUTION Many older Americans stay in the

workplace because they have to. As they

age and do retire, economic anxiety and

financial struggles through what should

have been the golden years may increase,

along with decisions about the tradeoffs

between spending and saving/debt reduction.

Trend source: The Futures Co. For more demographic

trends visit restaurantbriefing.com.

pg 3


TECHNOLOGY

Keeping an Eye on Tech Trends

The hottest and most relevant technology

trends for restaurants, according to Abigail

Lorden, editor-in-chief, Hospitality Technology,

are in the areas of social media and mobile.

“We’re now seeing truly tangible benefits in

terms of ROI from being involved in social

campaigns and leveraging mobile tech.”

“It’s critical that restaurants have MOBILE

WEBSITES optimized for smartphone screens,

especially for reservations, online ordering,

and contact information,”

says Fred LeFranc,

ceo, Results Thru

Strategy. While some

restaurants are creating

mobile websites, Michael

Klauber, owner Michael’s

on East, Sarasota, FL,

built a new website using

a “responsive design” –

meaning the layout scales

automatically to the size

of the instrument that it

is being viewed on. “This

means there’s no need to

create a separate mobile

site or an app,” he says.

Abby adds that Hospitality

Technology’s projections show that mobile or

mobile-enabled websites for restaurants will

outpace apps over the next two years.

“Mobile tech at the table is compelling –

prompting the increasing use of TABLETS,

especially with smaller, more nimble operations

such as independents where the investment

is not as huge as it is for large companies,”

says Abby. “These devices can also provide

additional revenue streams – such as hosting

advertising videos for wineries.” This year

there will be more choices in tablet hardware

available, including one from Micros Systems,

which she says may be more durable than

iPads, and there will continue to be more tablet

software solutions for the front and back of the

house. “We’re seeing so many new companies,

it’s anybody’s game now,” she adds.

The big tech change in the next year or so in

PAYMENTS OPTIONS, according to Abby, will be

the move to EMV standards for credit (including

American Express), debit, and ATM cards. EMV

chip cards contain embedded microprocessors

that provide a level of transaction security not

possible with traditional magnetic stripe cards.

“The U.S. is one of the last countries to migrate

to EMV, and in the U.S., the restaurant industry

is still where the bulk of credit card security

breaches take place – it’s the most hacked

industry and this technology has a much more

secure track record,” she explains.

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The challenge with technologies

is not to jump in and waste

money. Get references from

current clients and make sure

that providers have resources to

support programs so they can

be implemented and maintained

properly – and that they’ll be

around in five years.

– Fred LeFranc, ceo, Results Thru Strategy

“Technology is helping to expand the use

and reach of loyalty programs with software

solutions, such as iPhone and Android apps,

that enable interaction with these programs

via smartphones,” says Joe Erickson, vp,

RestaurantOwner.com. Abby says MOBILE

LOYALTY solutions will increasingly integrate

social media; “for example, customers earning

loyalty points when dining at a restaurant by

adding notifications on their Facebook pages.

We’re seeing some cutting-edge restaurants

looking for ways to leverage Facebook friend

networks, too.”

“KITCHEN TECHNOLOGY

is one of the areas that

continues to lag behind

and is the area for

greatest improvement

and opportunity,” says

Abby. “There’s a definite

need for additional data

coming out of the kitchen,

i.e., how long was a

plate sitting at the station

before it went out, how

many degrees off is the

cooling box.”

The technology for MOBILE ORDERING continues

to evolve. “This topic is talked about frequently

in our discussion forums,” says Joe. “A big issue

is whether a mobile ordering app can also serve

as an ordering app on a website and if it can

integrate with POS systems. You need research

before committing.” David Bloom, ceo, Ordr.in,

agrees. “There’s a lot of fragmentation in the

marketplace and many software solutions are

focusing on mobile ordering without taking into

consideration how that technology interfaces

with other technologies like marketing, social

media and of course the POS. I hope we’ll see

a trend to converge technologies.”

“One of the things I’m most excited about is

adding TABLE TRACKING DEVICES that use radio

frequency communication,” says Don Fox,

ceo, Firehouse Subs. When placed on a table,

these devices notify servers where guests are

seated. “They will enable us to expedite food

more efficiently with personalized service,

especially in high-volume locations.”

INTO THE FUTURE. Do at the View, Atlanta, GA,

uses iPad and iPod Touch technology to run

everything – from ambiance (projections of

interchangeable HD images on white walls)

to ordering dinner. “We let guests help select

music using their own iTouches and iPhones

that connect to an app we use,” explains owner

Christan Ruffin. “Guests can even chat with one

another – it’s a truly interactive experience.”

INDUSTRY INTELLIGENCE

What’s Hot For 2013 Menus

While most of the top 20 menu trends in

the NRA’s annual “What’s Hot” survey of

professional chefs aren’t new – and locallysourced

meats and seafood, locally-grown

produce, and healthful kids’ meals retain their

#1, #2, and #3 slots, respectively – there are

some additions. A separate new alcoholic

beverage survey made way for the addition

of non-wheat noodles (#12), ethnic-inspired

breakfast items (#14), and black/forbidden

rice (#19) to the top 20. Last year’s “smaller

versions of adult menu items” morphed into

“half-portions/smaller portions for a smaller

price” (#17) and food trucks rolled down to

#20 (from #13 last year).

Gluten-free cuisine (#8) ranked higher than

the general category of health and nutrition

(#16) for 2013. Notable is that “children’s

nutrition” remains a top trend (#5) and that

this category is also present in many of the

other top trends: healthful kids’ meals (#3),

whole grain items in kids’ meals (#10), and

fruit/vegetable children’s side items (#15).

The NRA points to its Kids LiveWell initiative

as helping to raise health and nutrition

awareness for children’s menus among

chefs, along with the increasing involvement

of chefs across the country in community

programs and with initiatives such as Chefs

Move to Schools.

When asked how to best handle the

increasing cost of ingredients, one-third (32%)

of the chefs cited changing menus, such as

new cuts of meat (#6 on the trends list) and

nontraditional fish (#13). One-quarter (25%)

said adjusting plate composition will offset

increasing costs and about the same number

(24%) cited exploring new sourcing options

such as hyper-local sourcing (#7) (think

restaurant gardens) which, along with farm/

estate branded items (#11) and house-made/

artisan ice cream (#18), also have the ability to

add interest and distinction to the menu. Only

4% of chefs said that raising menu prices is

the best strategy to accommodate increasing

costs. Ever present is a consciousness

about the environment – environmental

sustainability (#4) and sustainable seafood

(#9) remain top of mind for chefs.

What’s on the way out? This category

includes froth/air/foam, ramen, gazpacho,

“fun-shaped” children’s items, mini-burgers/

sliders, flavored/enhanced water, baconflavored

chocolate, flavored popcorn, fish

collars, and desserts with bacon.

Note: The National Restaurant Association’s (NRA) “What’s

Hot in 2013”, a survey of more than 1,800 professional chef

members of the American Culinary Federation (ACF), is part

of the NRA’s 2013 Restaurant Industry Forecast. For more

information, visit http://restaurant.org/research/forecast/

pg 4


POURING PROFITS

Bottoms Up in 2013

Wine, beer, and spirits trends continue to

reflect consumers’ growing desire for premium

products, new and different flavors, local/craft/

boutique products, and value – with quality being

paramount. Consumers want to experiment and

explore and be “in the know” – the one to tell

friends about a new beverage.

WINE “Sparkling wines are exploding – based

around Prosecco – for two primary reasons –

they’re easy to drink and relatively inexpensive,”

according to Ronn Wiegand, publisher,

RestaurantWine.com. He says that Cava has

benefited from the interest in Prosecco and to

expect the sparkling trend to be around for a long

time. W. R. Tish, managing editor, Beverage

Media Group, concurs and adds, “Prosecco is

a boon for restaurants because

they can charge $10 per glass

and still have a great markup.”

Ronn says that anything with

the name Moscato in it is hot,

especially with the younger

crowd. “These wines are

great for moderately-priced

restaurants, and I’m happy

that the younger crowd is

drinking Moscato because at

least they’re drinking wine, and

when they’re ready there’s a

chance they can be moved to

Rieslings and beyond.” Daniel

Johnnes, wine director, Daniel

Boulud’s Winex Group, says he’s seeing a

trend to more diversified wine lists in terms of

countries of origin, with a great emphasis on

value. “There are up-and-coming wine areas

as well as old traditional regions that have

not exported before, such as dry wines from

Portugal, and crisp, fresh, white wines from

warm wine regions such as southern Sicily.

If the quality is there, we’ll buy them for our

restaurants,” he says. Ronn remarks that it’s

a great time to be a wine buyer. “Wine quality

has improved significantly and great wines are

being produced in almost every country, a lot

of which go well with food and can be priced

to hit the sweet spot of $6 per glass and $35

per bottle.” Tish reports a rise in “concept” or

themed wines with unpredictable, memorable

names like Cryptic and The Prisoner, which

grab the attention of consumers.

BEER According to Jeff Cioletti, editor-in-chief,

Beverage World, “The major on-premise

beverage trend continues to be the growth of

craft beer at 13%-14% a year.” Matt Simpson,

owner, The Beer Sommelier, says other beer

trends to watch are craft beer in cans (more

recyclable, lighter to transport, zero “skunking”),

beer sommeliers, beer cocktails, beer and food

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pairings, using glassware specific to beer types,

larger beer lists (typically a split of 50-50 craft

and big brands), and sour beers (wild yeast and

bacteria-fermented ales). Especially popular

with brewpubs are ales in casks or firkins (small

wooden or metal barrels from which the beer

needs to be consumed within a day or two).

Bill Pecoriello, president, Consumer Edge

Research adds that hard cider is often rolled into

the beer category as some brewers are making

it. “While hard cider is gaining popularity and

there’s a lot of press about it, it’s growing from

a very small customer base, which is important

to keep in mind,” he advises.

SPIRITS Beverage Media Group reports an

increasing interest in brown spirits, especially

bourbon. Regarding popular flavored

spirits, he says that consumers have not

yet maxed out on

flavored vodkas, and

the trend of flavoring

spirits is seeping into

other spirits as well,

i.e, rum, tequila, and

bourbon. According

to Gaz Regan,

cocktail expert,

bartender and author,

the hottest spirit

around right now is

mezcal. “Bartenders

are going crazy

with it, using it in very small quantities in lots

of cocktails to give depth.” Gaz says another

trend is “throwing” cocktails – a Spanish

technique that involves pouring ingredients

back and forth from a height of several feet

using two halves of a shaker, one with ice that is

capped with a strainer and one with ingredients.

(This method aerates the cocktail and cools it

down.) Gaz notes that there are fewer “silly

cocktails” that were being made by bartenders

simply to show off and weren’t worth drinking.

Craft spirits continue to gain momentum as

new distilleries pop up around the country.

Allen Katz, co-founder/vp, New York Distilling

Company, says there is also a trend for large

and small distilleries in the U.S. and in Europe

to make small-batch or what he prefers to call

“boutique” spirits and, as a result, there are

lots of undiscovered gems on the market at

great prices. “Customers are very interested

in learning about these boutique spirits and

experimenting with different flavors – especially

those that are 100% natural and/or bitter and

are very compatible with food.” He adds that

overproof gin and whiskies (with alcohol levels

above 50%) are making an appearance, which,

when mixed with other ingredients to reduce the

strength, retain the purity of the spirits’ flavor.

With the explosion of available

beers, wines, and spirits, savvy

restaurants are making ongoing

tastings and training sessions

the rule, not the exception.

Product knowledge is key to

gaining diners’ trust.

– W.R. Tish, managing editor,

Beverage Media Group

MAKE

PARTNERSHIP

REWARDING SM

with American Express

Register now for 24th annual American

Express Restaurant Trade Program at the

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June 13 – Saturday, June 15, 2013.

During panels, workshops, and events,

attendees will have the opportunity to learn

from and interact with a diverse group of

noteworthy chefs, restaurateurs, and business

leaders. Panelists, including José Andrés

(Think Food Group), Chris Cosentino (Incanto,

Boccalone), Danny Meyer (Union Square

Hospitality Group), Marcus Samuelsson

(Red Rooster, Marc Burger, C-House), will

explore a variety of topics such as how to

effectively use the digital space to connect

with diners, from social media to review

sites; strategies to improve sales and profits

through effective employee communications;

and best practices for choosing and working

with charitable partners.

New this year are interactive workshops

focusing on social media fundamentals and

how to break into broadcasting. In addition,

Trade Program attendees are invited to

exclusive networking opportunities – a kickoff

party at Matsuhisa and happy hours.

The Restaurant Trade Program package

– which includes the Trade panels and

workshops, welcome reception and happy

hours, plus access to consumer wine

seminars, cooking demos, and early access

to the Grand Tasting Tents – is $1,150 if

purchased before 3/15/13; $1,250 thereafter.

For more info and to purchase tickets,

visit foodandwine.com/classic, or call

877.900.WINE. Or, if you have questions,

email americanexpresstradeprogram@

aexp.com. Note: The Trade Program sells

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RESTAURANT BRIEFING

AVAILABLE EXCLUSIVELY ONLINE

For a free subscription visit

restaurantbriefing.com

Published exclusively for American Express Travel Related

Services Company, Inc. by Davidson/Freundlich Co., Inc.

All suggestions become the property of American Express

without cost or obligation to American Express.

© 2012 American Express Travel Related Services Company, Inc.

email: editors@restaurantbriefing.

pg 5

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