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Trend Alert

The Ever-Expanding List of Quick Service Restaurant Brands and Fast Casual Concepts

By Marcelle Mulier

If you would have asked me how I felt about Quick Service Restaurant (QSR) brands a few years ago, I would have rolled my eyes at you. Having grown up in an extremely health conscious family, I quickly adopted a negative outlook on any QSR concepts. I tended to put all Quick Service Restaurant brands under the same umbrella as fast food chains ― filled with nothing but high fructose corn syrup, genetically modified ingredients, and factory farmed meats.

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Raise The Roost: Tastes Like Chicken

By: Michael Gorecki and Katie Haggart


Give ‘em the bird! Chicken is back and is growing in popularity. Rotisserie chicken, fried chicken, chicken sandwiches… high-end chefs are embracing chicken and elevating its status so high that even royalty is proposing over it (congrats Harry and Meghan!). It’s cheap, delicious, and couldn’t be more comforting. And hey, we’ll take all the comfort we can get in these crazy times.

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How to Become a Great Neighborhood Restaurant


Tasting Table is spot on in this recent article that our team caught a hold of:  Won’t you be my Neighborhood Restaurant, by Joshua Stein.  A great neighborhood restaurant (or GNR if you know the lingo!) isn’t just a great restaurant, nor is it just a neighborhood restaurant, it is always something much more complex that lives on the fine line between the two. A great neighborhood restaurant must be exceptional when it comes to cuisine, libations, atmosphere, and staff: but it also must be harmonious with its environment and customers. The GNR is a miraculous thing that can take on many forms and should change from city to city, as well as from neighborhood to neighborhood. The two key identifiers being: Is the price range relative to the mean income of families in that neighborhood? And, how many of the tables are reservation only and how many are saved for walk-ins?

In the article mentioned above, Stein says a GNR must enthrall a palpable sense of belonging in their customers, but how they choose to pursue this feeling of camaraderie will vary among restaurants. The welcoming atmosphere is easily malleable with the slightest change in the placement of the host stand, the host’s greeting, the layout or the decor, and the number of people inside.

From our perspective, every restaurant should strive to be loved by locals even if the visitor market is their key demographic. After all, visitors want to go where the locals are.

The keys to becoming a GNR also include, but are not limited to:

-Having approachable food that is timeless and well done every time.

-Having a bar scene that is lively but never crowded, the key here is a good layout and crowd control.

-Having trendy decor that is up kept but retains a relatively unchanging atmosphere.

-Having a staff that is friendly and remembers the customers as well as their orders. People relate to other people even more than they relate to food.

The main reasons why great neighborhood restaurants are so difficult to stumble upon is because they have a large dependence on the health of the neighborhood they reside in. With the increase in income inequality and introduction of gentrification, a neighborhood’s sense of community can quickly disappear leaving the GNR without a proper habitat to flourish in.

Check out Tasting Table for more great insights!


By Kyle Osher

Delivery is no longer relegated to monochrome Chinese menus on the fridge and 45 minute cold pizzas.  While the nostalgia of those late-night standards will forever hold a lukewarm place in our hearts, delivery now means so, so much more. With sophisticated technology and innovative logistic systems, companies like Amazon and Uber are rapidly shaping a world where anyone can get anything at the push of the button. The future is now and we’re all buying into it.

As consumer culture increasingly values the convenience and efficiency of delivery services, The NDP Group predicts that at-home dining will continue to surpass in-house restaurant covers over the next ten years in their article, Delivery – A Growth Opportunity On the Horizon.   If your business hasn’t partnered with a delivery platform yet, it may be high time to consider it.  Take a look at celebrity chef David Chang’s new delivery only establishment, Ando, featured recently on Eater.   To help weigh your delivery decisions, we’ve created a little list of Pros and Cons for you.

Partnering with a delivery service can:

Allow your team to focus on what they do best – providing a high quality product and experience for guests.

Expand your brand’s reach through valuable marketing partnerships.

Increase revenue during slower periods of operation or expand your operating capacity beyond your 4 walls.

Improve your image and add to your brand equity with exclusive offers.

Convert take-away guests to in-store loyalists.

Things to consider before diving in:

A lot of platforms include high percentage fees leaving you with slimmer margins. Be sure to run the numbers and view all delivery costs as part of your marketing budget — one that pays for itself.

Ensure that your menu reflects your concept and travels well.  Don’t dilute your brand just to provide a turkey wrap for delivery if you concept revolves around seafood. The Melt, a San Francisco based fast casual chain, has developed an advanced catering delivery system to ensure their grilled cheeses arrive crisp, gooey and delicious.  Read more about their custom packaging in the article by Nation’s Restaurant News.   

Offers should be value oriented as opposed to discount-based.  Guests should perceive value through access and ease not discount and speed.  They should feel excited to be able order their favorite chicken-parm sandwich at the touch of a button, not a mediocre salad with 15% off.

Don’t make promises you can’t keep. Only offer what you can deliver in a timely and controlled manner.


70% of Millenials Make Purchase Decisions Influenced by their Social Media Network

By Kyle Osher

Word of mouth has and always will be the most important factor in how restaurants and hotels become popular.  It’s why public relations firms exist: to generate and influence opinions and to get people talking! Deloitte just released their Digital Democracy Survey which found that 70.3% of millennials (14 to 32 year olds) thought a positive opinion among their personal network on sites like Facebook and Twitter ultimately influenced what they bought.  So how can you make sure they are talking about your hotel or restaurant?  A few easy tips:

Take Crave-worthy Photos: Spend 5 minutes browsing through Instagram and you’ll know that beautiful food imagery dominates the landscape.  Investing in food photography not only puts your best foot forward, but increases the occurrence of sharing amongst your guests and their network alike.

Geo Targeting: Generally, any restaurant’s bread & butter is going to be that local crowd of regulars and neighbors.  Increase the value of your purchased ads by geo-targeting your guests.  Most online services, from Facebook, Google AdWords or Twitter, offer the ability to choose your targeted demographic based on a number of factors, location being key.  Try geo- targeting in your next digital ad spend and help ensure that your message gets in front of the right guest.

Time Your Tweets: Twitter can be a valuable asset for any restaurant if used correctly.  Be sure to time your tweets to garner the effect you want and gain traction among your audience.  Regular and scheduled posts can be a great way notify your guests of daily specials or happy hours establish a pattern of engagement.

Leverage Instagram as a Brand Tool: Instagram is a remarkable communication platform.  Say as little or as much as you want, or let a photo do most of the talking.  When you combine dozens and hundreds of posts over time, a larger picture starts to come into view.  Leverage Instagram’s ability to refine and amplify your brand’s message, start sharing today.

Following the Pack: How to Foster Blogger Relationships

By Kerryn McDonough

With the ever-growing popularity of Instagram, comes a new wave of social media influencers and lifestyle bloggers who impact the daily dining decisions of foodies across the nation. More and more, diners are turning to social media for recommendations on where to get the trendiest, most instagrammable dishes in the city. Hashtags such as #eggporn, #foodporn, #forkyeah, and #eeeeeats have made searching for delicious bites easier than ever and bloggers use these hashtags to continually contribute their dining recommendations. While some Instagram influencers are solely dedicated to the one platform, others have robust blogs on other sites where they will often write a more in-depth review for the experiences they most enjoyed.

Below we’ve listed a few recommendations for establishing and further growing relationships with bloggers and influencers:
Create Custom Experiences

bonInvite bloggers in for a special meal, a cocktail class, or partner with neighboring restaurants to curate a comprehensive neighborhood stroll. Often bloggers want to try dishes from the menu before they publicly endorse an establishment to ensure that the content they are promoting reflects their true tastes. Invite a blogger and a guest in to try a sampling of dishes with either a signature cocktail or a glass of wine, provide a menu to takeaway and collateral with all appropriate contact information including social handles. Most importantly, follow up the next day to thank them for stopping by and to provide help attaining any extra information they may need to draft a full post.



Offer Special Deals to Followers

the bakeTo thank bloggers and Instagram influencers for their support, send out a code or a secret password for a special promotion created specifically for their followers. This small touch will bring in a new audience and will hopefully create returning customers. Don’t be afraid to get clever and play around with puns







Leverage Relationships
benjamin cooperpngEncourage bloggers to host their own events such as cocktail tastings to bring in business and create buzz on social media. This tactic is similar to sending out a specific code, but gives a specific blogger’s audience the chance to hang out with one of their favorite personalities and experience something with them first hand. Bring in new consumers, give them a great experience with an influential host, and instantly gain committed followers.

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