The Cronut. Kale. Unicorn Frappuccinos. Each year, customers are treated with an ever-growing and increasingly exotic choice of menu items influenced by everything from healthful food styles to popular culture. But what exactly does it mean to genuinely follow the trends, and does it make sense for each restaurant to jump on the bandwagon?
First off, it is important to understand what it means to be cool. While we’re not likely to require a textbook definition, it is interesting to consider how trends got their first starts. Bear in mind the major low-fat food trend that sailed through every American house, restaurant and cafeteria throughout the 1990s? The fad was really set into motion during the 1970s, after a series of Congress members who died of cardiovascular disease. In the wake of new scientific data indicating that our poor diets and high fat consumption were causing the problems, food makers rushed to action, introducing low carb foods which were high in sugar and carbohydrates.
And what about kale? Once thought of as a bitter-tasting garnish plopped next to your beef, kale went from being an afterthought to a health food celebrity! But how? Well, as it happens, even though there’s lots of scientific evidence indicating that kale is healthy, its rise to stardom is the most probably traced back to…. A cleverly designed and well-implemented public relations effort . Neat, huh?
The art of discovering the next big name in food has become a huge business, as entrepreneurs, food manufacturers and even AI-based businesses that monitor everything from what diets people are following to what components are popping up in recipes. Firms like Tastewise, Mintel and Datassential follow information points to help chefs using their menus using popular ingredients and may even drill down to exactly what things are most popular in whatever section your restaurant may fit into.
However, the race for finding the next big”it” food does not need to be picked up by everybody. In actuality, there are particular circles in which the next big thing only needs to be slightly different than what people are accustomed to getting.
In 2016, Arby’s, the longtime purveyor of roast beef sandwiches and curly fries, went out on a limb to provide up a venison sandwich topped with frizzled onion straws and a tangy sauce in select markets where deer hunting was popular. The outcome? In the majority of those places, the cakes sold out within a few hours. The following year, the company rolled out its cakes nationwide and saw similar results.
The venison sandwich is among a long line of off-the-beaten-path fast food offerings which the roast beef series has used to excite its fan base and fast food aficionados alike. Over the past half-decade, Arby’s has provided clients everything from duck to brisket and from elk to turkey, following through on its motto of”We’ve the Meats.”
Even though a venison sandwich does not sound like a significant departure for high-end restaurants which are more prone to explore unique cuts and types of meat, the sheer size and scale of this transfer are impressive for a restaurant with over 3,300 locations across america.
But what about people who only have a small number of restaurants or a singular site? Well, after the trends is now a high-stakes game. Americans are clamoring for more healthy foods, less grease and increased convenience, so restaurants are offering their customers more farm-to-table alternatives, different cooking styles and using spices which individuals might not be totally familiar with, such as za’atar.
This year’s biggest trend appears to be incorporating CBD oil to everything from cupcakes and smoothies to cocktails, meatballs and even salads. However, there’s still a small controversy surrounding the popular solution, and New York City has banned serving CBD-infused meals in restaurants, fining those who violate the rules.
Equally interesting is the growth of non-meat”meat” options becoming increasingly available at grocery stores and restaurants alike. These vegan-friendly options have a similar feel and flavor of the animal-based counterparts but are plant-based. The Impossible Burger is presently the largest name in the imitation meat world at this time, as a result of the usage of heme in its own patties much mimics the hemoglobin found in the conventional beef patties we are accustomed to.
Needless to say, like everything in life, all good things must come to an end eventually. And if there’s 1 thing all trends have in common it is they can fall out of fashion just as fast as they arrived in. Taking advantage of what is popular is an fantastic benefit for your restaurant, particularly if you’re ready to time everything properly. Additionally, it helps to have a POS system which makes it effortless to both implement and roll back these menu items once the time comes for them to be retired.
Making certain that your POS software is nimble enough to deal with an infinite parade of limited-time provides can seem like a daunting task, but it is just another way of delighting people that are accustomed to having access to the latest crazes. Whether it’s putting specialty items on your menu which contain locally grown and sourced components or doing a trial run using a new”superfood,” with the freedom to change your menu with the click of a button can make a massive difference on your offering and, ultimately, your bottom line.