Who’s after restaurateurs food dollars and why they should care.

Posted by in Food, Grocerants, Innovations, Management, Marketing & Trends

The line between restaurants and food retailers is growing ever thinner. The fight for America’s food dollars continues to intensify as consumers find fresh prepared ready-2-eat food options at a wide and growing array of outlets across almost every channel: convenience stores, chain drug stores, restaurants, grocery stores, club stores, vending and even more non-food retailers like dollar stores. While manufacturers, retailers and restaurants worry about choice overload, consumers have embraced their new choices and show no signs of returning to the old ways. This fight is taking place in what is called the grocerant niche.

The restaurant industry is not an industry known for trying to be first as in fastest to market with an ideation, food or technology advance. In the United States the larger the chain in almost all cases the more slowly they are to adopt something than a smaller chain or independent restaurants will. Chain restaurants goal is simple feed one meal at a time in the restaurant while protecting and edifying the brand.

Historically chain restaurant leaders have denied the credibility of start-up competitors as non-relevant. The pizza sector is a great example; evolving from family dinning independents to national chain of “Red Roof” Italian, then to delivery only outlets and now take-N-bake is garnering market share in the pizza sector. (Note: Home Made Pizza Company and Papa Murphy’s are further examples of take and bake pizza operators.)

Trends in the Food Industry Point to an Increase in Non-Traditional Meal Occasions

At the intersection of the consumer, fresh prepared food and technology we fine that consumer eating behavior is evolving and is now beyond the control of traditional food marketers. Evolving culture and lifestyle, demographics along with the new uncertain economy are all putting pressure on the American food consumer: Demands of work, economic shrinkage, demands of raising a family, commuting, social interaction, kid’s after-school activities, all contribute to a food marketplace where convenience vies with price over legacy brands. Recent advances in food packaging and new points of non-traditional food distribution have empowered consumer choice, and Americans are embracing these choices even as legacy marketers cringe. Who’s after restaurant food dollars… simply put… everyone.

Why should you care if Walgreens is selling fresh prepared ready-2-eat and made-2-order sandwiches? Why should you care if Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, Safeway and Wegmans are selling ready-2-eat and or heat-N-eat fresh pizza? Why should you care if Coinstar is selling Seattle Best Coffee at 1,000 locations for $1.00?

You should care because they are selling it, and you are not! The fastest growing sector of retail food service for the past four years has been the Convenience store sector. The C-store sectors growth in large part has been driven by fresh prepared food. Non-traditional avenues of distribution are growing, gobbling market share while establishing new patterns of consumption, price points and customer loyalty.

The Shopper is in Control Spurring New Retail Food Formats

Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods have created ready-2-eat and heat-N-eat fresh prepared food items with qualitative differentiation as an entity with identity that has help propel them into ready-2-eat fresh prepared food leadership. In fact recent research shows that both Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods are each known for high quality (restaurant quality) ready-2-eat and heat-N-eat foods with distinctive offerings. More important each is leading with innovative products and package size that create value and have positioned each chain as a food shopping destination for meal components customized and personalized for immediate consumption or mix and matched for a meal time at home. In short they are stealing your customers.

Walgreens fresh prepared food is restaurant quality and priced less than Panera Bread or Corner Bakery CAFE. Both Panera Bread and Corner Bakery CAFE thrive in urban locations. Walgreens is now growing price, quality and speed of service advantages over legacy retailers. Legacy restaurant chains must reconsider the speed at which they evolve and adapt or non-traditional outlets will capture profits margins as well.
Traditional views of meals and mealtime can pretty much be discarded. Legacy retailers waiting for the “next big thing” to copy simply might be out of luck this time. Legacy food retailers may not like to be first movers very much but it may prove that waiting too long will not work this time.

Product, Packaging, Placement, Portability and Price are Foodservice Solutions® 5 P’s

The retail food world is evolving at an ever increasing pace filled with innovation in food, portion size, points of distribution, and quality fresh prepared meal solutions. The price, value, service equilibrium is resetting in retail foodservice. In order to edify the brand and reinforce consumer relevance restaurateurs must leverage Foodservice Solutions® 5P’s of food marketing.

Many legacy food retailers continue to practice brand protectionism, stifle the brand while diminishing consumer relevance. The consumer is dynamic not static. Brands must be dynamic, evolving with the consumer. Four more years of watching other retail sectors thrive should be long enough. Success in the restaurant world is no longer simply about what happens within your 4 walls.

Steven Johnson is Grocerant Guru at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions®, with extensive experience as a multi-unit restaurant operator, consultant, brand / product positioning expert and public speaking. Facebook.com/Steven Johnson, Linkedin.com/in/grocerant or twitter.com/grocerant

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Why We Buy

Posted by in Food

Why We Buy

Think of how we buy stuff, -any stuff.  We buy shoes, cars, houses, boxes of beef and cans of tomatoes. There are three factors to all of our buying decisions: quality, service and price.  That’s the value proposition.  These are the logical factors that we consider. 

Then there are the emotional factors: relationships with the salesperson, trust in the company, feelings about a product, and just the plain old desire to have a certain thing …whatever that might be.

In all of these areas there is give and take; we give a little more money for a perceived lift in quality or trust. We might feel better about one label than we do about another or we might be more attracted to the coloring on a label; reasons could be empirical or emotional. Our buying decisions are not always logical. Marketing companies might say that our buying decisions are seldom logical.

Our customers buy the same way that we do, they measure quality, service and price, -and then they feel it out and make a decision.  The regulars who patronize your restaurant, they have already sorted it out.  They are there because they trust the value proposition and feel good about the folks who deliver that value. 

The folks who have never been into your place, -they don’t have a clue.  They have no idea of what they’ll be getting if they go through your door.  If you were a chain, the probability that they would just walk in “off the street” would be much greater.  The power of the chains is in the expectations that have already been established.

How do you compete with that?  You are one location, -they are 800 locations. 

When we look at a person, the first thing that we notice is their face.  When we look at a restaurant, the first thing that we notice is the storefront. 

If a person’s face is dirty, we tend to turn away.  Ditto restaurants.  If the sidewalk or parking lot is filthy, we turn away.

You know this stuff, but there is so much to be looked after, so many details to tend to and so many local and regional and federal regulations to pay attention to, that we sometimes forget the front windows or sidewalk.  So, during a slow period, remove the apron, take a walk out the back door and take a stroll around to the front, take a look around, walk into the front door, take a look, take a sniff, smile, and then stroll you way back into the kitchen and cook some more frigg’n peas. 


Although no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new beginning.  —Anon.


©2012 la10duh.com                                                                                                                                               la10duh.com is © copyrighted and protected under copyright law and all applicable international, federal, state and local laws, with ALL rights reserved. No part of this may be copied, or changed in any format, sold, or used in any way other than what is outlined within la10duh.com under any circumstances without express permission.


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98 Percent

Posted by in Food

98 Percent

We are always juggling. We are planning for future stuff, trying to perfect present stuff, worrying about past stuff that might not have been up to snuff – that’s a lot of stuff. 

I used to hear a saying, “yesterday is a cancelled check, tomorrow is a promissory note – all we have is today.” I don’t hear that saying so much anymore. Maybe because nobody uses checks anymore – it’s all debit cards.

The reality is, we do need to plan for the future and we learn by looking at past mistakes, but when a customer is involved, we should be focusing on the now. 

In a recent column, Bob Oros, a foodservice business and restaurant guru recently wrote, “I know that’s hard to believe.  But the truth is people think about themselves 98% of the time.”  (http:www.BobOros.com).  

Your customer doesn’t really think much about you-they are thinking about themselves and their levels of satisfaction. Keep the focus on them. They’ll like it. You’ll gain an advantage.

On one hand, there is plenty of competition out there trying to get the business that you have. Those competitors are thinking about what they want -your business. On the other hand, your customer is thinking about what they want -to be pampered and fed.

So, if the customer is thinking about their own wants and needs, and the competitor is thinking about their own wants, and if you focus on the present and the customer’s wants, then you are much more likely to get what you want-more customers more often.

You know this stuff, but with all the juggling and pressing matters, we sometimes forget it. So, keep smiling, remember to enjoy doing what you do, and get back into the kitchen and stir the frigg’n peas.

The qualities of an exceptional cook are akin to those of a successful tightrope walker: an abiding passion for the task, courage to go out on a limb and an impeccable sense of balance.  —Bryan Miller


©2012 la10duh.com                                                                                                                                               la10duh.com is © copyrighted and protected under copyright law and all applicable international, federal, state and local laws, with ALL rights reserved. No part of this may be copied, or changed in any format, sold, or used in any way other than what is outlined within la10duh.com under any circumstances without express permission.


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Cafe Announces 2012 Idaho Potato Commission Innovation Award Winners

Posted by in Press Releases

Eagle ID (May 9, 2012)—In anticipation of its 2012 Leadership Conference, the Center for the Advancement of Foodservice Education announces the winners of the Idaho Potato Commission (IPC) Innovation Award.  The annual award and two runners-up citations are given to an individuals and/or programs that demonstrate innovative techniques and practices in foodservice education.

            The $1,000 grand prize, plus complimentary registration and $500 for travel funds to attend the CAFE leadership conference, went to East Jessamine High School in Nicholasville KY. Guided by instructor Cary York, students designed and created a Children’s Nutrition Book to communicate the value of wellness and a healthy lifestyle to elementary school children.

The two Runners-up each earned $500 cash prizes, plus complimentary conference registration.  Instructor Annemarie Chelius and Atlantic Cape Community College (Atlantic City NJ) students were recognized for their “Educating the Educators” project. Sarah Smith and her students at Niguel High School (San Juan Capistrano CA), earned a prize for producing–and selling–an artisan line of products at the local farmers market.

The Idaho Potato Commission Innovation Awards will be presented at the CAFE Leadership Conference, held this year at the CIA/San Antonio, June 22-24, 2012. In addition to the Innovation Awards, the IPC, in conjunction with CAFE, annually funds four professional development scholarships for culinary instructors.  For more information about the Idaho Potato Commission CAFE scholarships, visit www.cafemeetingplace.com. For more information about the Idaho Potato Commission foodservice program and culinary resources, visit www.foodservice.idahopotato.com.


About the Idaho Potato Commission

The Idaho Potato Commission is a state agency that is primarily responsible for expanding the markets for Idaho-grown potatoes through advertising, promotion and research. The Commission also protects the use of the “Idaho® potato” and “Grown in Idaho®” seals, which are federally registered Certification Marks that belong to the IPC. These Marks ensure that consumers are purchasing potatoes that have been grown in the state of Idaho. For more information, visit www.idahopotato.com.



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MFHA Celebrates Asian Leaders During Asian Pacific American Heritage Month (PR)

Posted by in Press Releases

MFHA Celebrates Asian Leaders During Asian Pacific American Heritage Month

PROVIDENCE (April 30, 2012) — Each year, The Multicultural Foodservice & Hospitality Alliance (MFHA) honors distinguished leaders of diverse background whose achievements have contributed to the advancement of the food and hospitality industry. In May, during the Asian Pacific American Heritage month, MFHA is celebrating successful leaders of Asian descent by releasing its 2nd Annual Tribute to Asian Pacific American Leadership in Hospitality media campaign.
Asian hoteliers are a dominate force in the hospitality industry with nearly 37% of hotels in the U.S. owned by them, according to American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA). In addition, Asians own 8.9 percent of all franchises, the highest percentage compared to all minority groups in the U.S., according to the International Franchise Association (IFA). As the fastest growing race in the U.S., Asians have flourished and will continue to achieve success in the business world.

The Tribute not only recognizes senior-level individuals who exhibit excellence in their fields, but also aims to communicate the industry’s efforts to advance multicultural talent to executive levels in companies. Participating corporate members of MFHA for this Tribute include: Darden; McDonald’s Corporation; Yum! Brands, Inc. (KFC Corporation); Morrison Management Specialists; Sodexo; The Elliot Group; Hyatt Hotels Corporation; Pepsico Foodservice; Burger King Corporation; Choice Hotels International; The Kellogg Company (Kashi Company); MGM Resorts International; Clipper Corporation; and Oakwood Temporary Housing.

The leaders in this year’s Tribute rank among the country’s elite in foodservice and hospitality. Among the twenty-two profiled Asian leaders, there are eight Chief Officers, six Senior Vice Presidents and eight Vice Presidents. Eleven of all featured individuals are women, including five Chief Officers. The featured leaders are a true inspiration to multicultural youth and professionals who want to pursue a successful career in the food and hospitality industry.

MFHA will continue to honor successful multicultural leaders by releasing at least two more Tributes in 2012: first, a Tribute to Multicultural Allies in Hospitality (July release), featuring White leaders with outstanding accomplishments and contributions to multicultural initiatives; and then, a Tribute to Latino/Hispanic Leadership in Hospitality (September release).

The Tribute to Asian Pacific American Leadership in Hospitality can be found at: http://mfha.net/files/pdfs/Asian_Heritage_Month_2012.pdf.


The Multicultural Foodservice & Hospitality Alliance (MFHA)
2012 marks The Multicultural Foodservice & Hospitality Alliance’s (MFHA) 15th year of making the case for multicultural opportunities in the food and hospitality industry. The 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization educates, advocates for, and connects its members with opportunities to build their cultural intelligence in order to effectively engage multicultural employees, customers, and communities. For more information, visit www.mfha.net.

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Strengthening the Foundation

Posted by in Food

Reinforcing the Foundation

As a restaurateur, when you wake up on Monday mornings, you have a clean slate: zero sales for the week.  You know that you won’t end up at zero for the week; you have a good idea of where you’ll be at the end of the week (give or take $5k or $10k).  That amount …that “idea of where you’ll be” whether it is $4k or $104k, -that is your foundation. 

The restaurant business is basically a transitory business. Nothing is forever; everything is temporary, -every customer, -every piece of business …even we are temporary.  You’re working in tough times; things can seem even more transitory, -more temporary.  It seems like lots of people are trying to chip away at your rock-solid foundationHave no doubt, -they are. 

How can you protect your restaurant business and grow it in this climate?  Those who are doing it know that there are no single answers and no silver bullets, -but lots of things that need to be done and done well …one at a time.  There are lots of i’s to dot and t’s to cross.  The first order of business is to protect the business that you have, that is your foundation. 

One thing is simple in the restaurant business, there are only two ways to grow business: 1) keep customers; 2) add customers.  Face it, we are going to lose some customers; they die, they move, or, heaven forbid, they choose a competitor.  When this happens, a piece of the foundation is chipped off.  It has to be repaired or replaced. 

Where’s the best place to find new customers?  On the slower nights, take a few trips to eat at different competitors.  Go to a chain during on an especially slow night, -you might be surprised at the number of customers they have even during the slower times.  Their customers are your opportunities.  Yes, think about it …their customers represent your opportunities. 

Yeah, I know, you really know this stuff, but with all the stuff that you are accountable for, all of those i’s to dot and t’s to cross, you sometimes forget.  So just smile, get back in the kitchen, and cook some more frigg’n peas.

Wavering between profit and loss

In this brief transit where the dreams cross

The dreamcrossed twilight between birth and dying

                                                   —T.S. Eliot


©2012 la10duh.com                                                                                                                                               la10duh.com is © copyrighted and protected under copyright law and all applicable international, federal, state and local laws, with ALL rights reserved. No part of this may be copied, or changed in any format, sold, or used in any way other than what is outlined within la10duh.com under any circumstances without express permission.

Restaurant Owner

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How restaurants can make the most of Instagram

Posted by in Marketing & Trends

Mama Fu’s, Pinkberry, Ava Kitchen & Whiskey Bar offer best practices around the image-sharing platform

Use of the social-media photo application Instagram has been filtering into the restaurant business slowly over the past two years, but Facebook’s announcement this week of a $1 billion deal to buy the photo-sharing platform turned more heads.

In addition, the free application was added earlier this month to Google’s Android operating system after spending its first two years as an iPhone-only app. Instagram recently said it has about 30 million registered users.

“A picture really is worth a thousand words,” Daniel Barrett, restaurant and service manager at Ava Kitchen & Whiskey Bar and Pizzeria Alto in Houston. “It’s a great tool, because food is very much about the visual — how it’s plated, how it looks.”

The Instagram posts have led to incremental sales, Barrett said. “One day we posted a picture of a vegan-friendly pizza, and one of our followers had a Houston vegan website. They reposted the photo, and we got a few people come in because of it.”

The Instagram app allows users to post simultaneously to a choice of Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, Tumblr, Poseterous and Foursquare.

“It’s uncommon when a brand and social media channel align so naturally both from a business [brand] benefit and social media user scenario perspective,” Pamela Naumes, director of digital for Los Angeles-based Pinkberry, wrote in an email to Nation’s Restaurant News.

She said Pinkberry also capitalizes on the viral nature of the social-media platform.

“There’s great opportunity to reach out to new customers and really leverage this channel as an awareness builder for the brand,” Naumes said.

Nation’s Restaurant News asked restaurant Instagram users for their top tips for using the social media application.

Read more here >>



[ Reposted with permission from Nation's Restaurant News ]

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