pg 1
Jan/Feb 2014
In this edition
Technology on the Menu
Beverage Trends
Passive Co... pg 2
In a move to appeal to consumers who are
willing to spend, enter upscale “food halls,” as
a re... pg 3
Industry Update
According to recent National Restaurant
Association consumer research, well ov... pg 4
In his annual look at the major forces shaping
the marketplace of the new year and beyond, J.
... pg 5
Be part of the 25th Annual
American Express Restaurant Trade Program
at the Food  Wine Classic...
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Restaurant Trends 2014 by Restaurant Briefing


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Hudson RieHle, Senior VP, Research & Knowledge Group, National Restaurant Association, predicts that the oPeRATinG enViRonMenT FoR ResTAuRAnTs in 2014 will continue on the same positive – but modest – growth path. “Overall, we’re certainly not looking at a rebound to prosperity, but things are headed in the right direction. Last year was the fourth consecutive year of growth for the restaurant industry, although modest. Moving into 2014, economic indicators such as real domestic product, real
disposable income, and employment growth remain positive.” Employment growth – which Hudson says shows signs of being somewhat higher in 2014 – is especially key for the industry because even a small uptick in employment translates into a greater ability for consumers to spend in restaurants.

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Restaurant Trends 2014 by Restaurant Briefing

  1. 1. pg 1 INDUSTRY UPDATE Jan/Feb 2014 In this edition Technology on the Menu Beverage Trends Passive Consumers Helping Restaurateurs Adapt to a Changing Marketplace over35years Hudson Riehle, Senior VP, Research & Knowledge Group, National Restaurant Association, predicts that the OPERATING ENVIRONMENT FOR RESTAURANTS in 2014 will continue on the same positive – but modest – growth path. “Overall, we’re certainly not looking at a rebound to prosperity, but things are headed in the right direction. Last year was the fourth consecutive year of growth for the restaurant industry, although modest. Moving into 2014, economic indicators such as real domestic product, real disposable income, and employment growth remain positive.” Employment growth – which Hudson says shows signs of being somewhat higher in 2014 – is especially key for the industry because even a small uptick in employment translates into a greater ability for consumers to spend in restaurants. Another important element in spending decisions is consumer confidence, which – while still “sub- optimal,” Hudson cautions – is up compared to several years ago. “Operators will need to continue to nudge consumers into decisions to patronize their restaurants.” And they will do so in a robust competitive environment. “If you look at the number of units – points of access for customers – they continue to grow, and the economic environment of the last few years has created a battle for market share. One of the more important developments in 2014 and beyond is how operators view competition, which, over the last couple of decades, has been defined as other operators in a specific trading area. But it’s important to look at competition in terms of consumer spending in other categories – not just other restaurants.” To be truly competitive, Hudson advises, operators must look at consumer spending more holistically and take into consideration that over half is on housing and transportation. “Only 13% of consumer spending is on food and it has gradually been edging downward; consumers have been increasingly spending more in other areas.” To respond, Hudson counsels restaurateurs to take a cue from the grocery store industry, which, he notes, has been much more proactive about being relevant to consumers’ spending needs other than food – providing discounts on gas based on grocery purchases, for example. “I think we’ll see more restaurant operators link spending in their establishments to other areas which otherwise would provide competition for that spending.” For example, Hudson says hypothetically he could see restaurants linking guest spending to discounts on transportation, or on utilities, apparel, and entertainment. “This could provide nudges to patronize restaurants on various occasions. Restaurateurs are only limited by their imaginations and by how they can align with different businesses.” MichaelWhiteman, President, Baum + Whiteman, sees agrowingappetiteforluxury in RESTAURANT CONCEPTS and MENUS. In spite of a sluggish overall economy, but buoyed by Wall Street, Michael notes, “A lot of people are throwing around wads of money.” As a result, he observes a shift in influence. “In my opinion, a couple of years ago most of the movement in the restaurant world was ‘trickle up,’ in part from renegades – pushing combinations, clashing ethnicities, making disparate flavors work together. These were the people running food trucks, opening hip joints, and their influence was pushing into the upper reaches of fine dining.” Now, he concludes, “There’s enough money sloshing around that luxury – in the form of things like costly tasting menus, chicken priced like steak, upscale food halls, spare-no-expense tabletop, and technology-enabled custom environments – is thriving and trickling down in lots of different ways.” For example, Michael cites a proliferation of upscale tasting- only menus but says that we’ll see their influence in less elite settings with more tasting menu options added to a la carte menus. Another example is the elite tier of restaurants creating opportunities for the second tier. “The more the top restaurants charge these days, the more people want to be there. But when they can’t get in, the second tier restaurants gain in popularity.” And he says that price de- sensitivity by some also now means it’s possible for many to charge a lot of money for once humble chicken. “You can pay $70 for chicken in a fancy restaurant or $70 for chicken in a warehouse,” albeit an exclusive warehouse. And why has chicken gone haute? “Because chicken is something that can be glorified. Plus a lot of restaurateurs have convinced people they have found ‘the way’ to prepare chicken, but it’s a lot of mythology – the difference between a chicken with a small c and big C is marginal.” Trends to Watch 2014 INDUSTRY UPDATE More trend resources and insights for the year ahead and beyond 12 Hottest Food & Beverage Trends for Restaurants and Hotel Dining for 2014 ( AF&Co. Presents 2014 Trends: # Blurred Lines ( Technomic’s Take: 10 Trends for 2014 ( 5 Restaurant Trends You Can’t Ignore ( 2020 Vision: The Future of Foodservice ( 2014 Food Trends: What You Should Expect In The Year To Come ( 2014 Predictions: Branding & Social Culture ( Food and Drink Predictions for 2014 ( 10 Food Trends to Watch ( Consumers to Dine Out Less Often in 2014 ( 7 Consumer Trends to Run With in 2014 ( >> continues on page 2 >> continues on page 2
  2. 2. pg 2 In a move to appeal to consumers who are willing to spend, enter upscale “food halls,” as a replacement for or in addition to food courts, especially in shopping centers eager to attract new consumers, keep existing ones, and encourage them to linger. According to Michael, the best will combine on-premise manufacturing, dining, takeaway, and retail, and will feature “artisan” food by local name-brand restaurants. “Three, four, five upscale restaurants plus some at the lower end becomes a real restaurant destination. There are a lot of people who will go to a food hall who wouldn’t go to a food court, and it’s something you can’t experience online. So if a landlord has to recycle the space that was once Borders Books, he or she will fill it full of food. It’s all part of a larger trend of restaurants, with high sales per square foot and repeat customers, becoming ‘anchors’ – not just in shopping malls and department stores, but in hotels, airports, and museums.” Michael sees another trickle-down path – from restaurants in Saks, Macy’s, or Nordstrom to the likes of cafes/bars/ juiceries/yogurt counters in bike shops. Luxury is also extending into the neurosensory arena. “Food is not enough at the high end. Restaurants are enhancing the dining experience by fiddling with our senses, redefining ‘eatertainment’.” Michael uses terms like “psychotasting” and “sensory integration,” referring to a growing trend of restaurants playing to senses we don’t normally use when eating. It could be INDUSTRY UPDATE (continued) meals in the dark or in silence; a multi-act, multi-course banquet/opera; music and visuals cued to courses; tactile tableware; diffusers controlling temperature, humidity, and aromas. “The places doing this experience game are generally small, accommodating 10-15-20 diners willing to dump a lot of money. It’s the equivalent of whitewater rafting with your own guide, or climbing Mt. Everest with your own Sherpa – part bragging rights and part the experience itself.” Speaking of money, Michael says the smart money is placing bets on better-for-you dining. “It’s a niche market that’s rolling into the mainstream, from salad restaurants (many of which have evolved from being hippie joints) to high-priced vegetable tasting menus as part of upscale menus – with fast feeders sure to follow if they can figure out how to make healthy fit their formats.” More than one factor propels this momentum, he adds: “the gluten-rejecters, Paleo people, diabetics, weight-challenged, vegetarians, vegans, and two decades of nudging by nutritionists, ‘food nazis,’ and perhaps the First Lady.” He predicts we’ll see more “plant-based ‘faux food’ with waiter service” and more restaurants appealing to some consumers’ newfound protein obsessions. “Winners will be those restaurants that can appeal to people who don’t want to eat processed food and who want evidence they are eating food that’s good for them.” >> Hudson Riehle continued from page 1 AROUND THE USA Local topped the list again in the National Restaurant Association’s “What’s Hot” chefs’ survey of food and menu trends. Looking to 2014, locally-sourced meats and seafood and locally-grown produce retained their #1 and #2 rankings, respectively. Otheritemsremaininginthespotlight are environmental sustainability (#3) and healthful kids’ meals (#4.) Moving up from last year are gluten-free cuisine (from #8 to #5); hyperlocal sourcing (e.g., restaurant gardens from #6 to #5); and wheat noodles/pasta such as quinoa, rice, buckwheat (from #12 to #8). It’s interesting to note that 10 food trends have remained in the top 20 since 2009: locally-grown produce, healthful kids’ meals, gluten-free cuisine, sustainable seafood, health/nutrition, new cuts of meat, ancient grains, ethnic-inspired breakfast items, nontraditional fish, and fruit/vegetable sides in kids’ meals. There are three new additions to the top 20: nose to tail/root to stalk cooking (e.g., using entire animal/plant) at #11; ancient grains (e.g., INDUSTRY INTELLIGENCE kamut, spelt, amaranth) is #15; and grazing (e.g., small-plate sharing/snacking instead of traditional meals) ranks #17. By contrast, moving out of the top 20 are house-made/artisan ice cream (now #45); black/forbidden rice (#31); and food trucks (#41). Also trending downward – considered “yesterday’s news” by more than half of the chefs surveyed – are foam/froth, bacon-flavored chocolate, fish offal, gazpacho, fun-shaped children’s items, mini-burgers/sliders, barnacles, flowers, dust, and molecular gastronomy. Gelato, micro-greens, tapas/meze/dim sum, and dessert flights are also among the items that chefs report are cooling off. The five newest – rated “hot trend” by 59% to 67% of those surveyed – are grazing/small plate sharing, hybrid desserts (e.g., cronut, townie, ice cream cupcake), uncommon herbs (e.g., chervil, lovage, lemon balm, papalo), natural sweeteners (e.g., agave, honey, concentrated fruit juice, maple syrup), and kale salads. Other preparations chefs cited as being of the moment were pickling, fermenting, smoking, sous vide, and liquid nitrogen chilling/ freezing. Fried chicken, Italian cuisine, frying, and barbeque scored the most votes in the category of perennial favorites. Looking into the future, when asked which current trend will be the hottest menu trend in 10 years, 38% answered environmental sustainability and 22% said local sourcing, indicating the staying power that chefs believe these practices will have; 18% said health/nutrition; 10% children’s nutrition; and only 8% gluten-free. Note: The National Restaurant Association’s “What’s Hot in 2014” is a survey of more than 1,300 professional chef members of the American Culinary Federation (ACF). For more info, visit Hot Menu Trends for 2014 Restaurants could also draw some inspiration from the airline and hotel industries, Hudson continues. “Another area we’ll see develop in 2014 and in coming years is ‘yield management’ – making frequent adjustments in pricing in response to market factors such as demand, competition, or inventory. Technology now potentially gives operators the ability to change menu prices depending on the time of day, day of the week, inventory levels, etc. For example, QSRs used to have printed menu boards – now digital screens allow them to change prices quickly. Four out of five consumers say that if a restaurant offered off-peak pricing, it would incent them to use foodservice solutions more; with the adoption of tablet menus in tableservice, it’s not hard to imagine a scenario that would allow operators to selectively price items. And many already tweet special offers or menu items for a specific day and time. Overall, it’s a new frontier for the restaurant industry, but if you look at airlines and hotels, for example, consumers think nothing about sitting next to someone on a plane or being in a hotel with those who have paid a different price. It doesn’t mean that every operator will go down this road, but for some it will make sense to test and implement pricing variations.” Overall Hudson says that while technology isn’t a panacea, it’s a valuable tool in operators’ tool belts. “Certainly the timing of the evolution of technologies that enable these kind of programs is fortuitous for the restaurant industry in 2014 and beyond.” >> Michael Whiteman continued from page 1
  3. 3. pg 3 Industry Update According to recent National Restaurant Association consumer research, well over half of U.S. adults (63%) have used restaurant-related technologies. When asked what they’d done in the past month, those surveyed were most likely to have looked for a restaurant location and directions on a mobile device and also to have viewed menus, ordered food, or made online reservations on a computer. When it comes to the technologies consumers would use if offered, the same two top the list: looking up a restaurant location and getting directions (underscoring the importance of claiming listings in online directories); and using a computer to view menus, order, or make reservations (elements which should be part of a restaurant’s online presence on its own website and/or via third-party sites). In almost all cases, the younger the consumer, the stronger the attraction to the technologies included in the study. For example, compared to the average of all adults, Millennials (aged 18-34) would be more likely to look up nutritional information on a mobile device (70%), interact with a restaurant on social media (56%), order takeout/delivery on a mobile device (74%), and look up location/ directions on a mobile device (88%) if offered. But don’t sell older customers short – almost a quarter (23%) of those aged 65+ said they’d use a reward or special deal on a mobile device. NRAresearch also shows that while the consumer- facing technologies in the study are presently offered by a limited number of restaurants, 54% of tableservice and 48% of quickservice operators say they plan to invest to close the gap between what they currently offer and what consumers say they want. Some things to consider: MOBILE TOOLS Abigail Lorden, Editor-in-Chief, Hospitality Technology, says, “We’re seeing much more interest in mobile tools, with the ultimate goal of engaging customers, improving their experiences, and streamlining operations. Mobile is becoming the most important way to communicate with customers.” Rocky Lucia, IT Director, BR Guest, Inc., hq New York, NY, agrees. “With everyone using smartphones and tablets, a mobile-friendly site is a necessity today.” Chris Shirer, CEO, Madison & Fifth, a digital agency specializing in restaurants, hospitality, and retail, reports that 40% of Cameron Mitchell Restaurants’ website viewership is now on mobile devices. She says, “It’s also important that emails be read easily on mobile devices, so we use which resizes emails automatically to the recipients’screens.” Plus, she advises, it’s key to support flash animation and HTML5 for video, so that if a device doesn’t have flash, the video will be automatically bumped to HTML5. “The challenge continues to be third-party providers, such as those who sell gift cards, that aren’t mobile friendly yet.” TABLET TECHNOLOGIES It was recently reported that Applebee’s intends to install 100,000 tablet computers in more than 1,800 locations nationwide by the end of 2014. Julia Stewart, CEO, DineEquity (Applebee’s’ parent company), said customers had been telling them for some time that they don’t like waiting for a check and that tablets will present the company with a unique opportunity and competitive advantage. This technology will allow customers to pay at the table, order, and play games, giving Applebee’s another way to engage and communicate with their guests. Similar devices are being used by other casual dining restaurant chains, including Chili’s, Red Robin, McDonald’s, and Buffalo Wild Wings. While upscale and white tablecloth operators are continuing to evaluate the use of tablets, some are having success using tablets for their wine lists. “Our Fleming’s WiNEPAD has helped customers engage with wine, discover new ones, and get advice on pairing with food,” explains Craig Sheppard, National IT Training Coordinator, Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar, hq Newport Beach, CA. “It’s helped increase satisfaction and sales.” Rocky says BR Guest has been looking at an iPad wine list but is concerned that it might increase time between table turns as guests become fascinated by it; however this has not been an issue at Fleming’s, according to Craig. MOBILE PAYMENT While not in the pipeline currently, Rocky says that BR Guest has been looking at mobile payment options, even though their guests are not screaming for it. “Right now it’s like the ‘wild west’ – there is no standard yet. There are some handhelds and a bunch of apps, such as LevelUp and TabbedOut. Some Look up restaurant location/directions on a smartphone or tablet: Use a computer to view menus, order food, or make reservations online: Order takeout or delivery on a smartphone or tablet: Use a restaurant reward or special deal on a smartphone: Place an order on a touch-screen terminal in a restaurant: Make a reservation using a smartphone or tablet: Look up nutritional information on a smartphone or tablet: Interact with a restaurant on social media like Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram: Pay for a meal with a smartphone: % of adults who say they... I’ll Have Some More Technology, Please... 46 67 41 63 23 52 13 50 7 46 13 46 19 42 15 31 6 24 Have in the last month Would if offered Technology on the Menu Source: National Restaurant Association Consumer survey, 2013. of these technologies interface directly with POS systems and use the same credit card payment ‘pass thru’; some do not interface and are their own credit card processors or use third-party processors.” Location Information “We recommend looking at your restaurant listing on Google+ Places to confirm the information listed is correct and that you’ve added as much to the listing as possible (menus, photos, etc.). Then use that same information as a template for all other directories such as Urbanspoon, Yelp, TripAdvisor, and Bing,” advises Chris. Steve Brooks, Director of Information Services/Business Analyst, Tumbleweed, Louisville, KY, says they’ve hired a company for about $65 per store to clean up their online presence – checking maps and addresses, opening and closing times, etc. “This way we know customers are receiving correct information when they’re searching for us.” Chris says services like Yext update and sync geodata and content automatically for $50-$100/month. “If you’re doing a good job of regularly updating menus and photos, that’s a great value.” Advice Abigail says the biggest challenge with new technologies is to sift through the options and look for a solid company that has a good track record. Steve advises, “Get three bids; often you’ll be surprised how different they are. And consult with people in your area who have done a similar project – get pros and cons from users, not just sales people. We’re part of the Kentucky Restaurant Association and members are always willing to talk about what works and doesn’t work, as well as give advice, so you don’t make a mistake.”
  4. 4. pg 4 In his annual look at the major forces shaping the marketplace of the new year and beyond, J. Walker Smith, Executive Chairman, The Futures Co., describes a waning era of consumer control – a “pivot to passive” in which consumers will step back and assume a much less active role. TREND There will be a shift away from a consumer- centric, consumer-driven marketplace. This will be the result of consumers gradually and willingly relinquishing the major role they have come to play in the marketplace (think user-generated content, reviews and tips, collaboration, co-creation, crowdsourcing, wikis, etc.). Walker puts this changing of the guard in historical context. “Consumers went from being attentive to our marketing – watching our ads, paying attention to our brands, and taking their cues from marketers – to actively taking the driver’s seat in the 90s. We were all going to create our own content, collaborate with one another; everybody was going to self-invent everything for oneself. We presumed we’d all get into the game, but we are seeing that a few people are actually participating and controlling – not the masses. That so many social media sites have closed over the years or have lost their mojo shows us how hard it is to get consumers actively involved and to sustain that level of active engagement in the marketplace.” Among the forces driving consumers from active to passive engagement is their increasing desire to unplug, to press the pause button, to streamline their involvement,” Walker notes. “In our Monitor data we are seeing a decreasing percentage of people agree that they can’t live without their cellphones. Overall, there is a rising demand for ‘headspace,’ for some relief. Consumers are saying, ‘I want some time off, a moment to reflect, to be able to step back. I don’t want to be actively engaged all the time.’” OPPORTUNITY People use restaurants for a myriad of reasons and one of them is for a change of scene and “headspace.” Remember that in terms of unplugging and escaping, one guest’s tranquil ambiance is another’s crowded scene, so know your audience (age is an important clue) and create their kind of haven. Regardless of ambiance, don’t overburden customers with an excessive number of choices – options are important but overload is easy when there are too many or they are presented in a cluttered way. Consumers are looking for someone to take the wheel, so to speak. For example, well-trained servers can be a huge advantage and chef’s recommendations and/or set menus may be a welcome relief. TREND Passive, not active, digital use will drive the future. Walker also cites a fundamental change in the way consumers will interact with technologies. “We have thought that digital technologies are all about total immersion – do it all, have access to all, and have control over it all. But the future will be about consumers’ passive engagement with technology as well. Sensors are the future, not screens. Screens require active engagement – you have to touch a screen, you have to key into it, you have to be involved in it. Sensors involve passive monitoring – they will detect everything and feed back information.” For example, diabetics wear devices that monitor blood sugar and automatically dispense insulin; many other examples are already in the marketplace or are being tested – smart vending machines will measure temperature or use facial recognition to determine what kind of user is present in order to vary what is offered and how it’s priced; sensors in clothing will measure and monitor our physical state; a headset will monitor EEG levels and measure the user’s mood, then tell their iPod what music to play to fit – all by passive monitoring. “These kinds of devices will contribute to a new era of information for marketers who will have access to better data and better analytics tools than ever before – enabling them to predict the right fit/products for consumers and, in real time, how to price or configure an offer. This dynamic pricing based on real time analytics will lead the charge.” OPPORTUNITY Walker describes a sophisticated scenario involving marketers tracking and analyzing data from sensors in many forms. But at the core is the value of information – information you may have about consumers that they don’t need to tell you, from their spending patterns in your restaurant to their social media conversations. It’s important to gather information and listen in order to constantly refine what you offer. And a restaurateur can be a kind of human sensor – don’t forget the value of “reading” customers in your dining room. TREND Consumers are passive in their spending as well. Another sign of diminishing consumer engagement in the marketplace, he says, is that “money is not circulating and consumers remain wary. Pew Research found earlier this year that consumers believe the economic system is no more secure today than it was before the financial crisis.” While Walker reports that the National Journal/Atlantic Magazine research found 60% of the middle class is concerned about falling out of the middle class, he adds that in every income bracket there is some The waning hold of consumer control, consumers’ pivot to passive, is the most important thing we have seen occur in the marketplace since the rise of the Internet in the 1990s. -J. Walker Smith, executive chairman, The Futures Co. Consumers’ “Pivot to Passive” TODAY’S CONSUMER degree of financial anxiety due to uncertainty in the marketplace ahead. So, with confidence and finances weakened, consumers have pulled back and slowed spending as well. OPPORTUNITY There is a market for “money-is- no-object” luxury experiences, but the ongoing challenge is to entice cautious consumers to spend in restaurants, particularly those in the middle class where a lot of uncertainty resides. Options can play a role in price points as well – make sure there are items with approachable pricing incorporated on the menu to appeal to that audience. TREND  Control in the marketplace will revert back to marketers, whose goal will be “conversion.” Consumers are happy to step back from the energy drain of self- invention, to relinquish control. “People are finding ways to consume and live their lives in a more passive way and that is transferring control back to marketers,” says Walker – to those that offer the goods and services that consumers consume. Marketers will play a more active role and will measure their successes differently. “We used to think about ‘audience,’ ‘share of market,’ ‘brand equity.’ Currently we think about and measure ‘engagement,’ which has become a buzzword in the marketing profession. It has been about ‘active engagement,’ about consumers doing something, being engaged. It’s not as if that’s going to disappear, but engagement becomes far less important in an era where passive consumerism is the name of the game. Moving forward, the keystone metric will be ‘conversion,’ creating and taking advantage of opportunities to turn consumers into customers.” OPPORTUNITY Passive consumers will require marketers (including restaurateurs) to be more active. Think about how to reach your target market and how you can convert them into customers. What situations should you be ready to maximize? Working mothers heading home? Cash-strapped Millennials looking for a place to have a drink with friends? Relevant text and email campaigns as well as targeted tweets can grab their attention and convert them into action. Another conversion opportunity for restaurants is mobile- and location-based search, including location-based mobile apps that help people find restaurants, bars, happy hours, etc. around them. It’s essential that your mobile site functions well – that maps and directions are accurate and that click-to-call/reserve/order functions work seamlessly. Make sure restaurant locations are correctly listed in all mobile directories and guides (Google+, White Pages, Yelp, etc.) and investigate location-based apps such as AroundMe. For J. Walker Smith’s FutureView LIVE Replay, visit
  5. 5. pg 5 Be part of the 25th Annual American Express Restaurant Trade Program at the Food Wine Classic in Aspen. Friday, June 20 – Saturday, June 21, 2014 American Express is proud to once again assemble leading hospitality professionals, chefs, and restaurateurs in Aspen during the Food Wine Classic. The 25th annual Restaurant Trade program will include a panel moderated by Andrew Zimmern (Television Personality, Chef, Food Writer, and Teacher), featuring Barbara Lynch (Barbara Lynch Gruppo), Danny Meyer (Union Square Hospitality Group), and Jonathan Waxman (Barbuto) as they share experiences and advice from their decades in the industry. Another session will serve up cocktail and bar trends and ways to drive bar business. Graham Elliot (Graham Elliot Bistro), Tom Colicchio (Craft Restaurants), and Sean Brock (Husk Restaurant) will weigh in on customer loyalty in the digital age. Plus, there will be networking opportunities at pre-panel continental breakfasts before the sessions, as well as during a Trade-only Happy Hour. The Restaurant Trade Program package – which includes the Trade breakfasts and sessions, the Trade-only Happy Hour, and Trade-only early access to the Grand Tasting Tents, as well as to the consumer wine seminars and cooking demos – is $1,250 if purchased before 3/15/13; $1,350 thereafter. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit or call 877- 900-WINE. Or if you have questions, email Note: The Trade Program sells out quickly, so reserve soon. Make Partnership Rewarding SM with American Express AROUND THE USA RESTAURANT BRIEFING AVAILABLE EXCLUSIVELY ONLINE For a free subscription visit 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. © 2013 American Express Travel Related Services Company, Inc. email: POURING PROFITS Wine, beer, and spirits trends for the new year continue to reflect consumers’ growing interest in/desire for micro-distilled and artisanal products that are locally produced, and packed with flavor. BEER According to David Decker, President, Consumer Edge Insight, the good news for beer is that it’s seeing gains among the two groups that it has long struggled to reach: women and older drinkers (55+). As a result, he says, “It’s not time to start cutting back on the beers you serve; if anything, maybe reconsider the types you offer.” Benj Steinman, Publisher, Beer Marketer’s Insights, reports that while on-premise beer sales are down as much as 4%, sales of craft beers on premise are up modestly. And, while still a small percentage of sales, craft beer in cans is growing explosively, especially in the more casual chains, with certain brewers (i.e., Oskar Blues) only selling in cans. “Also, the appeal of sour beers has broadened from an initially small base – there’s a lot of cache about them. I think they definitely can have a place on an expanded beer list in a fine dining establishment because their flavor profile pairs well with food.” He notes that New Belgium, a Colorado craft brewer, is making a beer it calls “tart,” Snapshot Wheat, which has a hint of sour and is more sessional (low alcohol, with a balanced flavor of hops and malt) and more subtle in flavor than traditional sour beers. Benj adds that smoked beers, while trendy, are a very tiny niche product (i.e., Stone Brewing’s Smoked Porter with Vanilla Bean). HARD CIDER While on-premise sales of hard cider are very small compared to other alcoholic beverages, sales are up dramatically, especially with women. GuestMetrics reports that in the third quarter of 2013, hard cider sales grew 52%. Michael Whiteman, President, Baum + Whiteman, says hard cider has appeal because “it’s food friendly, low-alcohol and gluten-free.” Technomic reports that beer brewers and major beer suppliers are now entering the cider market. WINE “We’re seeing a desire on behalf of restaurants to offer exclusive wines, leading to a renewed support for local wines, a boost in private labels, and fresh attention to boutique or micro-production California wines,” says W. R. Tish, Managing Editor, Beverage Media Group. “These types of wines are often offbeat and food friendly, as well as obscure enough to allow for healthy margins.” Ronn Wiegand, publisher, Restaurant Wine, says that red blends and white blends have surged in popularity, especially those on lists in the $5-$12 per glass and $25-$60 per bottle categories. “These blends usually contain one (or more) international varieties – Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Malbec, Zinfandel, Grenache, and are ‘built up’ from there.” He says Prosecco alternatives – international bubblies in the same price range – are proliferating, and fueling interest in quality sparkling wines from around the world, especially those from France (Cremant), Germany (Sekt), Spain (Cava and others), and other regions in Italy. Evan Goldstein, President/Chief Education Officer, Full Circle Wine Solutions, Inc., says, “The reality is, for most restaurants sales of wines-by- the-glass drive their wine business, so preservation is critical.” There are inert gas systems like Enomatic and inserts such as Wine Shield, but the big buzz, he says, is around Coravin. This device enables a small amount of wine to be extracted from a bottle without pulling the cork, providing an opportunity to offer small tastes or glasses – perfect for older, rare, expensive bottles. SPIRITS Jon Taffer, President, Nightclub Bar Media Group, and Host/Executive Producer of Spike TV’s “Bar Rescue,” says flavored spirits are the single most powerful beverage trend today. “What began with flavored vodkas, which are still popular, has moved into flavored whiskies, tequilas, and rums, all of which offer great mixability,” says Jon. “With these spirits it’s important to create cocktails around them as they’re rarely ordered neat.” He advises buying flavored spirits by the bottle, as some might not have a long shelf life, and adds, “Ice is a critical part of the quality equation of any great drink, with sanitation and filtration being key.” Jon says a company called Glace makes and ships luxury ice – purified so it has no taste, the individually- wrapped spheres are good for those serving high-end whiskies and scotches. Lu Brow, Bar Chef, Cafe Adelaide The Swizzle Stick Bar, New Orleans, LA, is part of a growing group who barrel age cocktails. “They’re great for a busy bar because all you have to do is pull the tap,” she says. Lu recommends using a very small barrel, as it’s a less expensive mistake if it doesn’t work out, and to remember to soak the barrel first. Michael says the latest fixation of artisanal bartenders is making bespoke vermouths and stocking dozens of them. Lu adds that she finds having vermouth in a cocktail is very appealing to women, as it has fewer calories and a lower alcohol level. Raising Our Glasses to 2014! Tap technology is revolutionizing the beverage world - from beer, wine, and cocktails to taps for fruity soft drinks and barrel-aged cold-brewed coffee. - Darren Tristano, Executive VP, Technomic