Top Trends from Top Chefs and Menu Search App

by MRM Staff 7 Min Read

#WednesdayWisdom on MRM's Daily Bite includes news from the National Restaurant Association and American Culinary Federation, Sage Restaurant Group, Sirved, Vitality Bowls and Punchh as well as Sheraton Palo Alto.

 Send news items to Barbara Castiglia at bcastiglia@modernrestaurantmanagement.com. MRM Daily Bite Logo

Top Food Trends

The National Restaurant Association released its annual survey of 700 professional chefs – members of the American Culinary Federation (ACF) – to predict food and beverage trends at restaurants in the coming year.

Top Five Food Trends

  1. New cuts of meat
  2. House-made condiments
  3. Street food-inspired dishes
  4. Ethnic-inspired breakfast items
  5. Sustainable seafood

Top Five Concept Trends

  1. Hyper-local
  2. Chef-driven fast casual concepts
  3. Natural ingredients/clean menus
  4. Food waste reduction
  5. Vegetable-forward cuisine

"Local, vegetable-forward, and ethnic-inspired menu items will reign supreme in the 2018. Guests are implementing these trends in their own lifestyles and want to see them reflected on restaurant menus. In response, chefs are creating more items in-house and turning to global flavors," said Hudson Riehle, Senior Vice President of Research at the National Restaurant Association.

"Chefs strive to strike the right balance between offering consumers what they want to eat now and guiding them toward new and exciting culinary frontiers," said ACF National President Stafford T. DeCambra, CEC, CCE, CCA, AAC. "ACF chefs dedicate countless hours to continuing education and professional development to stay at the forefront of culinary innovation, allowing them to respond to and redefine diners' expectations in an ever-changing foodservice landscape." 

For complete survey results, visit www.restaurant.org/foodtrends.

Emporium Kitchen Opens in Fort Collins

Sage Restaurant Group introduced the Emporium Kitchen and Wine Market, top photo, to the Fort Collins, Colorado community. The concept brings a vibrant gathering place to the Old Town dining scene with an all-inclusive atmosphere, featuring an American brasserie restaurant; a market showcasing worldly products including wine, artisanal cheeses, and meats from an in-house butchery, and more. SRG also introduces Bowerbird Coffee, a new coffee brand in partnership with Fort Collins-based Peritus Coffee Roasters.

Emporium Kitchen and Wine Market
Emporium Kitchen and Wine Market
Photos by Sage Restaurant Group

“We have been looking to open a restaurant in Fort Collins for quite some time – the city itself is filled with culture, and the residents are decidedly down-to-earth and welcoming,” SRG Co-Founder Peter Karpinski said. “It is the ideal destination for this versatile, come-as-you-are concept, and we hope guests enjoy the treasure trove of delights within Emporium.”

Executive Chef David Anderson helms the kitchen at the American brasserie highlighting high quality, locally-sourced ingredients, from fresh fish to wild foraged mushrooms. The open concept kitchen is the centerpoint of the restaurant, in which Chef Anderson showcases rotisserie items, flatbreads and grilled dishes. To complement Chef Anderson’s menu, SRG’s Vice President of Beverage Operations Brandon Wise heads up the beverage program, incorporating fresh juices and handcrafted mixers into signature cocktails, and spearheading partnerships with local spirits brands and craft breweries. Additionally, wines from the market are offered by the glass and by the bottle.

Designed to be a local hangout where guests can linger and sample, meet a friend for a quick lunch, pick up dinner for the family, or grab a snack and go, the market pulls from international influences to offer a one-stop shop filled with sundries to satisy any need. Items include a wide variety of wines and gifts, paired with in-house specialties such as house-made charcuterie, artisanal farmstead cheeses, unique condiments, and more. Dedicated counters serve everything from deli items, made-to-order gourmet sandwiches and grilled flatbreads.

Modeled after the Bowerbird, a striking bird that nests by gathering everyday items and sorting them by color, Bowerbird Coffee offers a jolt of creativity and quirkiness to the Emporium Kitchen and Wine Market. Sage Restaurant Group partners with local, well-respected brand, Peritus Coffee Roasters, to serve freshly brewed coffee available by the cup and for retail. A counter serving ice cream from Windsor-based company Longview Creamery, pastries, and other goodies round out the Bowerbird Coffee shop.

Steak Tartare
Photo by Sage Restaurant Group

Located adjacent to the Emporium Kitchen and Wine Market, Magic Rat brings Fort Collins residents an original live music venue with day to night entertainment. Blending the comfortability and intimacy of a neighborhood bar with the vibe of a high-energy music venue, the lounge offers a lively hangout for a beer, a glass of wine, or a craft cocktail paired with curious bites such as Beef Jerky and other concert-friendly provisions. Wise creates signature cocktails including the Jersey Mule and The Rider, a bucket of beer adorned with mini airplane bottles of whiskey. 

Karpinski and Sage Restaurant Group engaged local artists and students from CSU to curate a communal art wall through a partnership with Denver-based NINE dot ARTS. The pieces harness the eclecticism of the space, and range from acrylic paintings to watercolor to mixed media. SRG also enlisted New York City-based dash design to create the whimsical look and feel of the Emporium Kitchen and Wine Market’s interior.

Dash design owner David Ashen said “The aesthetic is small town, local provisioner meets larger all-embracing emporium – featuring a reclaimed wood floor, chalkboards, painted wood shelving and open deli cases – mixed with an industrial modernity through the usage of architectural elements like metal and wood archways and broadway lighting.”

Emporium’s supplementary brand work is imagined by The Made Shop, a design studio with offices in Denver and LA, founded by architect-turned-designer Marke Johnson and known for making uniquely beautiful brands, art, spaces, ideas, and more. 

Sirved Adds Menu Search App

Sirved launched its app that lets you search every menu from every restaurant -- filtered by craving, dish, or dietary restrictions like gluten-free or vegetarian. The app rolled out across Canada, with some U.S. markets already online and more coming soon. Sirved's proprietary menu-search technology already indexes a database of more than 100,000 menus, from cool local spots to well-known names.

"We created Sirved because menus shouldn't be so hard to find -- and restaurants definitely shouldn't have to pay to be listed," said Jonathan Leslie, Co-founder of Sirved. "We think that finding what you want, when you want it and without a lot of hassle is an underserved market."

"It comes down to simplicity and freedom of choice. When I go to a new city I want to know the restaurants that fit my cravings. I don't want my options to be limited by someone else's opinion or ranking engine," said Kyle Brown, Co-founder of Sirved.

Sirved's discovery capability makes it different: combined with its all-inclusive database of menus, it's the destination of choice for anyone searching for a specific menu item or looking for a new restaurant to try.

For example: if the consumer searches for "bison burgers," Sirved will show them which restaurants list this item on the menu, where it is listed on the menu, as well as the restaurant information (distance, address, contact, etc.). Once the consumer decides upon a restaurant, they have the option to:

  • call and place an order;
  • go to the location to dine; or
  • order directly from the Sirved mobile platform

Sirved's multi-faceted platform includes every restaurant whether they use Sirved's platform or not. It also provides restaurants with:

  • Easy on-boarding and seamless integration to ordering systems;
  • A competitively-priced credit card processing solution and subscription-based business model;
  • User-friendly customer interface;
  • Analytics and dashboard to track sales performance and industry insights to help restaurant owners understand what consumers are searching for, adjust their inventory and take their business to the next level. 
Vitality Bowl Launches Mobile App from Punchh

Vitality Bowls debuted a mobile app developed by Punchh that offers users one loyalty point for each dollar spent at Vitality Bowls. Once the user reaches 100 points, they are rewarded with $10 off their next purchase. Additional rewards for friend referrals and birthdays are seamlessly accessible for redemption within the app. The app also integrates mobile payments, gift card sharing and includes a store locator, with plans to continue to roll out new functionality in the coming months.

“The new Vitality Bowls app offers a personalized experience for ordering and payments as well as a robust loyalty rewards program,” said Tara Gilad, founder and owner of Vitality Bowls. “We are thrilled to partner with Punchh for the enhanced platform, which we’re confident our customers will love.

Punchh modernizes customer engagement programs within weeks, offering the ability to segment customers, predict customer behavior, create and execute targeted campaigns, and track performance in real-time.

"We are thrilled to add Vitality Bowls to our growing roster of top restaurant brands," says Sastry Penumarthy, co-founder and VP of Marketing at Punchh. "Consumers expect personalized experiences when they visit the restaurants they love. Vitality Bowls’ new app will enable the company to not only incentivize repeat visits and attract new customers, but gather real-time insights from the point-of-sale to gain greater visibility into each sale to ensure they are engaging with every customer in a customized way."

The app is available now on Google Play and the Apple App store.

Poolside Grill Now Re-Opened

The Sheraton Palo Alto re-opened its Poolside Grill after an extensive six-month renovation.  The 76-seat restaurant, which serves breakfast, lunch and dinner daily, opened its doors Nov. 27. The renovation, or “reimagining,” followed the renovation of the hotel’s lobby, bar and public spaces, which was also designed by Oakland-based design firm Arcsine.

“It feels really good to open,” said Suzanne Murdoch, vice president of Sales & Marketing for Pacific Hotel Management, the hotel’s parent company. “There are a lot of restaurants in Palo Alto to choose from, but it’s very unique because of the ambiance of being next to the pool. And, it’s always had a reputation of consistently offering fantastic food. It’s a local’s favorite too.”

Murdoch said the menu has basically remained the same, albeit with the introduction of a breakfast buffet and a few new touches here and there by Executive Chef Mark Ayers, who joined the culinary team in May. She added that Ayers will be making changes to the menu next year.

Ayers is not only Executive Chef of the Sheraton, but its nearby sister properties in the Pacific Hotel Management group, the Westin Palo Alto and The Clement Palo Alto.

“We didn’t want to change too many things just now and stay with the current lunch and dinner menu for now,” said Murdoch. “Mark added his own spin to breakfast, adding a few new items and embellishing our popular breakfast buffet.”

The design of the restaurant takes its cues from the style of the lobby renovations, with clean modern design also by Arcsine. The designers embraced the original modernist architecture while adding modest contemporary touches, including refined furniture and elegantly simple light fixtures. The palette of clear walnut and textural cream with brushed brass accents unites the restaurant aesthetically with the hotel’s renovated public space.

Inside the restaurant, natural light floods into the vaulted skylight and highlights the restored wood plank ceiling, diffusing light throughout the space.

The furniture layout is arranged to maximize views to the pool and patterned wood screens surround banquettes near the entry to create a strong sense of arrival. Considering the local tech nexus, connectivity is key; an elevated communal table offers power at the table apron, while minimalist outlets are installed at Pullman-style booths.

“It really has a resort-style atmosphere, it feels like your dining at a resort,” said Murdoch. “It’s a great restaurant that opens up to the pool and you can either eat on the pool deck or inside. When the weather is nice and the doors are open, it’s a very popular place to eat.”

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