Restaurant Trends: Aaron Allen & Associates


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Restaurant Industry Trends

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  • We believe hospitality is about always giving a little extra, so here's our version of an extra "bakers dozen.” To learn about tailored, specifically relevant workshops for at least 75 more trends presented in person for "your audience" (whether that be a handful of senior executives for your company or a public program for a few hundred of your colleagues,) contact us at
  • Key performance indicators…Food costs…comparable store sales volumes….they are starting to expand…so if you are a driver for a pizza company what are your kpi’s..driving record….what are the top most important area that can be quantified….track those and have a quantified are becoming very important…analytical tools track info in real time can track down to a real time basis…in the palm of your hand beyond just profit and loss.
  • Contact us about tailored workshops for at least 75 more trends presented in person that are specifically relevant for "your audience" (whether that be a handful of senior executives for your company or a public program for a few hundred of your colleagues).
  • Restaurant Trends: Aaron Allen & Associates

    2. 2. AARONALLEN 25 TRENDS TO WATCH SHIFTING TECTONIC PLATES The tectonic plates of the restaurant industry are shifting at a faster rate than in decades prior. The Fast Casual segment is growing at a faster rate than the industry overall and is cannibalizing others (currently generating around $20b annually but projected to hit $100b within a decade). QSRs are acting more like Fast Casual and are up-scaling their products, guest experience and pricing. Restaurants in general are acting more like grocery stores and grocery stores more like restaurants; Home Meal Replacement is the battleground. The casual dining players performing the best are migrating up the pricing continuum to make more room for Fast Casual and protect eroding margins. The unit economics have fundamentally and forever changed. The worst place to be in the restaurant industry today is the Casual Dining segment with a check average of less than $20. There’s much more at play here and it’s important stuff. (We do half-day seminars on the subject.)2 © 2012, Aaron Allen
    3. 3. AARONALLEN 25 TRENDS TO WATCH THE SHRINKING BOX Doing more with less has been a recession-era mantra for restaurants, especially when it comes to the unit ’ s footprint. Downsizing with a special emphasis on design innovation has become commonplace in chain concepts, as well as independents, with both operating with less square footage than ever before. Photo Credit: Aaron Allen3 © 2012, Aaron Allen
    4. 4. AARONALLEN 25 TRENDS TO WATCH WHOLE COOKERY The “ Whole Cookery ” serving style focuses on an all-inclusive experience to tantalize your taste buds and appreciate every piece of the animal. At Cask & Larder in Winter Park, Florida, you get your own dedicated Chef for the evening, and he or she delivers the whole animal to your table. The Whole Cookery Feast includes a starter course, sides & dessert. Photo Credit: © 2012, Aaron Allen
    5. 5. AARONALLEN 25 TRENDS TO WATCH MICRO-REVIEWS Gone are the days where a restaurant’s reputation could be decided by a single critic. Nowadays that job belongs to a cast of thousands, and with it comes the responsibility of online reputation management. Before, customers would tell a few friends and neighbors; now they tweet 10,000 from the table through pictures and commentary. Photo Credit: © 2012, Aaron Allen
    6. 6. AARONALLEN 25 TRENDS TO WATCH SPICY VODKA INFUSIONS Infused vodkas are a staple in most restaurants these days. Cherry, orange, maybe even a blackberry if you’re lucky. But what about bacon? Watermelon-jalapeño? Habanero? Restaurants like Croce’s in San Diego have stepped outside the norm and started to play with bolder ingredients. The bacon and ghost chili infused vodka (one of the hottest peppers known to man) is the fiery secret ingredient in the restaurant’s complex Bloody Mary. Photo Credit: © 2012, Aaron Allen
    7. 7. AARONALLEN 25 TRENDS TO WATCH PHILOSOPHICAL RESTAURANTS Ubuntu: It’s a humanist philosophy focusing on people ’ s allegiances and relations with each other. It emphasizes community, sharing and generosity ~ essentially, the essence of being human. It’s also the name of a restaurant/wine shop/yoga studio in NYC. Restaurants are extending their missions beyond just good food, good service, and good atmosphere. It goes beyond the customer and includes providing a sustainable workplace environment, as well as an interconnectedness with their providers and local communities. Photo Credit: © 2012, Aaron Allen
    8. 8. AARONALLEN 25 TRENDS TO WATCH INSTAGRAM IT A picture is worth… well… a lot these days. Instagram ’ s following has increased over 400% in the last seven months to 80 million users, and some of the most influential chefs and restaurateurs are taking advantage of the boom. New York Citys Comodo restaurant has capitalized on this foodie trend by launching an Instagram menu. By taking advantage of photos customers have snapped and hash tags, the Comodo has assembled a collection of some of their most popular dishes. Favorites? The swordfish ceviche, seared duck breast and poblano Photo Credit:, pepper pasta.8 © 2012, Aaron Allen
    9. 9. AARONALLEN 25 TRENDS TO WATCH RETRO COCKTAILS Retro cocktails such as the classic Martini, Sidecar, Gimlet, Manhattan and Tom Collins are back in vogue. Media, advertising, and popular hit television shows such as Mad Men are all celebrating the past in ways like never before. Photo Credit: © 2012, Aaron Allen
    10. 10. AARONALLEN 25 TRENDS TO WATCH ON-SITE GARDENS The path from farm to table might be shorter than you think. More chefs are turning to neighborhood--and even rooftop--gardens to procure the freshest of ingredients. Take Bell Book & Candle on NYC’s west side. Their seasonal menu revolves around local, organic, sustainable and overall responsible procurement. The menu cycles are seasonal and heavily influenced on production from the aerophonic roof-top tower garden. Photo Credit: http://www.bbandcnyc.com10 © 2012, Aaron Allen
    11. 11. AARONALLEN 25 TRENDS TO WATCH COMMUNITY-OWNED Community members invest in a local collective business because it works to serve their needs. And keeping it local not only focuses on the needs of the community but can be a powerful driver for social change. Seen as a plus by consumers, community- owned businesses keep it “all in the family,,” so to speak. Photo Credit: ttp:// © 2012, Aaron Allen
    12. 12. AARONALLEN 25 TRENDS TO WATCH GOURMET DOUGHNUTS The doughnut has dropped its humble origins and finds a gourmet side with flavors like pistachio, banana-salted caramel, and hazelnut praline. New fillings include crème brulee and maple bacon, even whiskey and foie gras at LA’s UMAMIcatessen. International takes on doughnuts are gaining popularity, too, with European style kolaches, Turkish lokmas, Portuguese malasadas, and French Kouign-amann. Photo Credit:, © 2012, Aaron Allen
    13. 13. AARONALLEN 25 TRENDS TO WATCH PSYCHOGRAPHIC HIRING Psychographic hiring goes beyond skills, and zeroes in on recruiting people on the basis of their attitudes and tastes. How do these individuals view themselves? Employers are looking to hire like- minded people in restaurants like Seasons 52, where employees buy into a healthy lifestyle and are all part of the mission statement. Photo Credit: © 2012, Aaron Allen
    14. 14. AARONALLEN 25 TRENDS TO WATCH HOLD THE FUSS With a full-throttle emphasis on natural, simple, and fresh ingredients, chefs are finding that less is more. Less sauces, less processing and less calories are making these straight-forward menu offerings more nutritious and flavorful, with less guilt for consumers. Photo Credit: http://www.dmagazine.com14 © 2012, Aaron Allen
    15. 15. AARONALLEN 25 TRENDS TO WATCH CAUSE MARKETING Consumers gravitate towards brands that reflect how they see themselves. So places like Starbucks not only engages in causes that tie into the brand’s promise but do so in a seamless way.. Judging from the public ’ s warm embrace of Starbucks cause marketing, many see something of themselves here. Photo Credit: http://starbucks.com15 © 2012, Aaron Allen
    16. 16. AARONALLEN 25 TRENDS TO WATCH MINIMALISM Less is more is taking center stage in restaurant décor as well as the more simplistic center-of-plate offerings. Restaurant interiors are less fussy with a nod towards sleeker, more modern looks. Design elements set out to expose the essence or identity of the restaurant through eliminating all non-essential forms, features or concepts. These days, the simpler the elements, the bigger the effect. Photo Credit: © 2012, Aaron Allen
    17. 17. AARONALLEN 25 TRENDS TO WATCH DOGGIE DINING More and more restaurants are becoming dog friendly in the same way that they have become kid friendly over the years. With 70 million dog owners in the U.S. alone, it’s no wonder restaurants and hotels are loosening their pet restrictions and cashing in. In some operations, not only are dogs allowed, there are separate menus catering to their every whim. Photo Credit: http://www.gasparsgrotto.com17 © 2012, Aaron Allen
    18. 18. AARONALLEN 25 TRENDS TO WATCH COFFEE PAIRINGS Forget wine and cheese. This year you are more likely to have your cheese paired with coffee. Food writer James Chatto touts coffee from the breakfast table straight through dessert, comparing it to wine in its complexity and versatility. At Splendido, a fine dining establishment in Ontario, coffee is just as complex an accompaniment to food as wine. Just as a wine maker uses fermentation to dramatically effects the taste of wine, a coffee expert creates a unique product by roasting coffee to a variety of levels. Photo Credit: © 2012, Aaron Allen
    19. 19. AARONALLEN 25 TRENDS TO WATCH GYPSY KITCHENS Kitchens are popping up in places never imagined. Underground supper clubs and off the grid secret locales all add a sense of excitement and discovery to the already alluring and evolving culinary landscape. This air of mystery and secrecy plays directly to the consumers heightened sense of discovery. Photo Credit: © 2012, Aaron Allen
    20. 20. AARONALLEN 25 TRENDS TO WATCH HOUSE SODAS & HEIRLOOM BEVERAGES Do-it-yourself soda kits have made it easier for both the home cook and restaurateur to build their own beverage. Some restaurants are perking up their menus simply by bringing fresh ideas to the beverage section. At Dat Dog in New Orleans, patrons can order nectar infused soda with a splash of chardonnay. Other flavors popping up on drink menus: lavender- vanilla, tangerine, and persimmon. Photo Credit: Photo Credit: © 2012, Aaron Allen
    21. 21. AARONALLEN 25 TRENDS TO WATCH CLANDESTINE DINING Want to really experience a foodie’s ultimate head trip: eat in the dark. In customers’ unrelenting search for the new and different, gourmands find a little bit of darkness brings the lightness of being to their favorite pastime. Not fit for the masses, but for a select few, it’s nirvana. Photo Credit: http://opaque.com21 © 2012, Aaron Allen
    22. 22. AARONALLEN 25 TRENDS TO WATCH NUTRITIONAL DISCLOSURES With the popularity of apps like ‘Lose it,’ which allows people to quickly track daily food consumption, consumers are demanding more nutritional information. And that puts the burden of compliance squarely in the hands of restaurateurs. This can be costly and time consuming, but foodservice operators need to stay ahead of the curve. Photo Credit:, © 2012, Aaron Allen
    23. 23. AARONALLEN 25 TRENDS TO WATCH iPAD MENUS iPads are turning up everywhere, so it ’ s no surprise restaurants would be turning to the iPad as a way to bring today’s menu offerings to its clientele. There are numerous upsides to using iPads and other methods of digital paper, including the halo of being “with it,” as well as the environmental “greenness” of the choice. Outback Steakhouse co- founder Chris Sullivan sees not just current novelty but future potential in the iPad, and is investing his fortune and know-how in this trend. Photo Credit: © 2012, Aaron Allen
    24. 24. AARONALLEN 25 TRENDS TO WATCH WIRELESS PAYMENT Money is slowly but surely becoming a thing of the past, at least when it comes to cash on hand. Wireless payments have surpassed the green stuff in a big way and are being utilized not only in online transactions but in virtually all points of commerce. Restaurateurs are not exempt, and those who have not embraced this mode of payment should reconsider.. Photo Credit: © 2012, Aaron Allen
    25. 25. AARONALLEN 25 TRENDS TO WATCH THE SNACK OCCASION With an emphasis on smaller, more frequent meals, the foodservice industry has given birth to a fourth day part: snack time. Consumer’ mid-afternoon need or desire for a pick-me-up helps feed the pipeline, which simultaneously fattens the bottom line.25 © 2012, Aaron Allen
    26. 26. AARONALLEN 25 TRENDS TO WATCH AMERICANS WILL START TO SPEND MORE AS A % OF INCOME With an economy that continues to tighten the screws on the middle class, it was only matter of time until Americans were forced to spend more as a percentage of income. For the poor, this is nothing new, but for the vast majority of Americans, the shifting reality is something new playing out daily. Source: BRS/USDA, Euromonitor Data, complied July 2012, data for 2009 Data represents money spent on food at home26 © 2012, Aaron Allen
    27. 27. BONUS TRENDSWe believe hospitality is about always giving a little extra, so heres our version of a "bakers dozen."
    28. 28. AARONALLEN 25 TRENDS TO WATCH ANALYTICS/KPI’s Restaurateurs are analyzing more data than ever before through KPI ’ s, or key performance indicators. Virtually everything can be analyzed and quantified, from an employee ’ s performance to pizza delivery’s stats. A deep dive into an operations’ analytics reveals all sorts of usable information in real time, information that translates into time and money savings. Photo Credit: Photo Credit: © 2012, Aaron Allen
    29. 29. AARONALLEN 25 TRENDS TO WATCH INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY & TRADEMARKS Following on the heels of anti- smoking and nutritional laws, the legal system is taking aim at intellectual property and trademarks. Moving forward, restaurateurs will have to take greater care protecting properties and trademarks, including recipes and trade dress. It pays to be proactive on this so that years of sweat and hard work aren’t stolen by a copycat with a thumb drive. Photo Credit: mcdonalds.png29 © 2012, Aaron Allen
    30. 30. AARONALLEN 25 TRENDS TO WATCH GROCERY STORES CLAW BACK CUSTOMERS The grocery and foodservice industries have been locked in a competition for share of dollar for as long as anyone can remember. While restaurants have gained market share in recent decades, grocery businesses have had enough and are pulling out all the stops to reduce the trend.30 © 2012, Aaron Allen
    31. 31. AARONALLEN 25 TRENDS TO WATCH FARMS VERSUS GOLD With the world ’ s population growing at an unprecedented rate, it will take a 25% increase in food agriculture production to keep pace. Because farms are shrinking at the same time food consumption is increasing, farmland is good as gold. In the future, farmland will become even more precious. After all, if you can’t eat, who cares about gold?31 © 2012, Aaron Allen
    32. 32. AARONALLEN 25 TRENDS TO WATCH CELEBRITY FARMER Thanks to local celebrity chefs, many farmers are enjoying newfound rock star status. With farmers’ names featured on menus, farmers’ food celebrated in tasting demonstrations, and a growing presence in media and viral, these farmers are learning the value of their own brands. Photo Credit: © 2012, Aaron Allen
    33. 33. Contact us about tailored workshops for at least 75 more specifically relevant trends presented inperson to "your audience" (whether that’s a handful of senior executives or a few hundred of yourcolleagues.) United States Central Europe 390 North Orange Ave 1051 Budapest Suite 2300 Október 6. utca 17, Orlando, Florida 32801 Budapest, Hungary 407-936-1010 (US) +36-1-798-3578 (Europe) (866) 436-4002 (US fax)33 33 © 2012, Aaron Allen