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When They Start to Talk About a Bubble… It’s Time to Get Creative

We were so sorry to read about the closure of AQ, one of our favorite SF spots, covered recently by Thrillist .  We know a lot of our colleagues are preparing for stormy weather  ahead and are looking at new ways to deliver an incredible guest experience with less costs.  As we said in this years AF&Co. trend report – it’s time to “Be Prepared.”  But, call us eternal optimists, we don’t quite believe it’s all doom and gloom.  These kinds of circumstances can bring out our most creative and collaborative solutions.  In our report, we highlighted a few trends that we think are coming out of this pressure.  We’ll keep you posted over the year.  In the meantime here are few other ideas:

 Share and Share Alike

Take a nod from Union Square Hospitality Group, their restaurants are sharing animals across kitchens to reduce labor from butchering and prep time.  If you are a single restaurant, make some friends in the neighborhood.

It’s from Scratch….Just Not Made Here

Chefs have faced a lot of pressure to make everything in-house, and we love that they enjoy this challenge so much.  However, when the labor becomes a major issue, it’s time to question how much value is truly added to the guest experience.  Consider featuring high-quality ingredients from partners or even other restaurants.  (Maybe trade your awesome ketchup for their famous mustard? Okay …we know…but  you get the idea!)

Counter Service…at Least by Day?

We mentioned this in last years report, but we’re seeing many restaurants look at different service models at various times of the day.  We also think limited menus and one-of-kind offerings could be worth exploring to create buzz and scarcity.  (Want our awesome fried chicken sandwich?…gotta come on Tuesdays!)

Use Every Inch You’ve Got

We’re seeing a rise in creative ways to use flexible space to draw crowds (and boost revenues!) at all times of day. Restaurants are turning into markets and co-working spaces. We’re also seeing retail spaces entering into the restaurant realm with some notable acquisitions and openings. (Did you hear about the $26 Entrees at Barnes and Noble?)

Want more ideas?  Check out our trend report here. Have a thought?  Let us know at 

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