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Why Farm to Table Restaurants are so Popular

7/26/2017 - Who doesn’t love the taste of a juicy heirloom tomato picked fresh from the garden? Compare it to the taste of a tomato shipped from a long distance, and you’ll understand why the farm to table movement has gained popularity. Built on the idea that “food is tastier when fresh and local,” the concept is well on its way to becoming the new normal. As consumers take a greater interest in packaged foods’ ingredient lists – the shorter and more pronounceable the better – restaurateurs are taking a greater interest in minimally processed ingredients for their menus. From fresh fruits and vegetables to meat, cheese and other dairy products and baked items, chefs are choosing more locally sourced food. Some farm to table restaurants have made it a priority to buy food within a hundred-mile radius, while others have set up relationships with local farmers and ranchers. Not only does food grown on a nearby farm leave a smaller carbon footprint and taste better, but it's often healthier. The longer fruit and veggies spend on a truck or in storage before being delivered to you, the greater the loss of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. And according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, they're regularly picked before they ripen and often lack nutrients that would be there if allowed to mature. Additionally, when food is transported from hundreds of miles away, it doesn’t benefit local economies while putting local farmers at a disadvantage. The farm to table movement pumps money right back into community businesses and farms, which helps keep the cost of produce down. According to a 2016 National Restaurant Association survey, 56% of consumers said their primary reason for preferring locally sourced food is that it supports farms and producers in their communities. Farm to table practices are a win-win for customers and restaurants alike. Not only does it result in delicious food, but it also makes diners happy to be contributing to something sustainable.

Beating the Restaurant Summer Doldrums

7/26/2017 - Restauranteurs can survive the slow summer months by upgrading their marketing strategies. First, they should increase Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and all social media output. Offering exclusive online deals, such as two-for-one meals, 25 percent off, free appetizer or dessert promotions, are great ways to persuade customers to opt for your restaurant over your competitor. Also, do what you can to attract repeat customers. One way is to find out when diners are celebrating birthdays or anniversaries, and inviting them to mark the occasion with a special dessert at your establishment.Crowd sourcing menu ideas where you can test new items is another good idea because it won’t have much of an impact to your bottom line. And you can get people into your restaurant before they head home or make other plans after work by creating enticing happy hour deals. Events also are a great way to increase traffic during a sluggish season. Reach out to networking groups, charity organizations, and firms that could benefit from using your restaurant as an event space. It will draw a new set of customers that may not have known about your establishment beforehand. The slow season can be a perfect time for restaurants to make improvements. If you need to make renovations, you won't lose nearly as much money if you need to close all or part of the restaurant for a few days. In warm months, many guests prefer to eat outside. If you don't have outdoor seating, add a sidewalk cafe. Labor is a high percentage of expenditures at a restaurant, so you don’t want to have too many people working during slow periods. Look at your sales and covers per night from a previous slow season and use those as a metric for staffing needs as you enter into the next one.

2017 Restaurant Industry Trends

7/6/2017 - There aren’t many industries more dynamic, challenging, and exciting than the restaurant business. With increasing competition and challenges related to changing demographics and lifestyle, the industry is zeroing in on trends that make their establishments more customer-friendly and up-to-date technologically. Restaurant operators who focus on the evolving purchasing habits of today’s consumers will be the most successful. For example, the fast casual concept is benefitting from the growing number of younger consumers who dine out more than previous generations. Although they’re inclined to spend less, these newer users regard dining out as a necessity more than a luxury. Fast casual restauranteurs should pay close attention to this demographic, which prefer healthier and more creative menu options prepared with locally sourced and organic products. Community restaurants also are experiencing a rise in popularity. An extension of the sharing table concept, these restaurants have the ability to build strong bonds with a large number of regular customers who want to re-engage with their community. Added to that is the expansion of loyalty programs that concentrate on enticing new and less-frequent buyers to visit. And more restaurants are experimenting with Facebook and Instagram as well as menus to create appealing social media and brand campaigns from the ingredients on their plates. Mobile ordering and payment options are becoming the norm. Restaurant delivery apps are making it possible for eating establishments to increase their market share dramatically. Delivery-only restaurants also are growing, with restaurant owners playing around with the idea of operating out of factory-like facilities with lower rents. By cutting down on front-of-house costs, restaurants can offer lower prices for high-quality food. Experimentation and change are shaping up as the big restaurant trends for 2017. As the restaurant industry moves into the future, operators need to focus on the evolving purchasing habits of today’s consumers and understand how their concepts fit into the new landscape.