Food Trucks: Not Your Same Old Restaurant
Technomic, the leading foodservice research and consulting firm has released a report on leading restaurant changes in the restaurant business. Their bottom line is the restaurant landscape is changing many areas and their 11 for '11: Technomic names leading restaurant trends release discuss 11 trends they see as key for 2011 and beyond. I will focus on those that I think you will be most interested in, particularly for those of you either starting a food business or looking to capitalize on early trends to grow your business.
Mobile Food Trucks. Calibi Taco & Burrito food trucks offering interest fare, some even target as "healthier for you offerings" There menu features New Generation Tacos, Calbi Burrito, Quesadillas, and the Calbi Rice Bowl which they say "puts your Mom's old Tupperware to shame" implying their mobile food trucks are a better choice than bringing your lunch to work from left-overs and their price of $6.99 makes it a an affordable indulgence vs. heading off to your local fast food establishment. Other brands such as Qdoba, Sizzler and Dairy Queen are also in fast pursuit. Bloggers and Twitter are diligently promoting these new mobile food trucks.
Frugality Fatigue , "Recession Weary", "Affordable Indulgence", etc. We are all getting tired of denying ourselves and want a treat and will do so in 2011 at an increasing rate. An example is this video featuring Applebee's Flavor-Loaded Steaks, not only indulgent but at a $9.99 starting price… hence affordable indulgence. Technomic has coined a new phrase, Gastropubs and predict they will grow in in the future. My research reveals a Gastropub is a blend of a restaurant in a pub… the menu goes beyond traditional pub fare.
Social media and technology , look at Maggiano's Little Italy official Facebook Page that over 34,000 followers. The page tabs not only announce new items, they also query their fans for menu feedback and new ideas. Although social media is evolving at lightening speed Technomic states that the biggest risk of all is failure to innovate in the restaurant business.
Fast Food blurs the line between a meal and a snack addressed this issue with snack/meal menu items under $2 in a recent article I wrote..
Convenience Stores have been nibbling away at the fast food end of the restaurant business for some time now. A major player is WaWa a major player in the mid Atlantic region. A quick check of their site reveals tempting offers of breakfast sandwiches, soups and rice bowls, salads, wraps and flatbreads. Sounds more like a restaurant than a convenience store. Food service margins are much higher running between 40% to 60%. Their newest item, the Hot Turkey is a series of sandwiches and bowls price at just $2.99… watch out McDonalds and Burger King!
Better for You. I have written about the healthful versus indulgent dichotomy , you know we say one thing and do something else. Specialty food industry facts froma a variety of sources indicates balancing the two will get more complicated as more states enact menu labeling requirements. Technomic says there will be efforts to "reformulate entire menus with an eye toward health" They point to Taco Bell's lower-sodium menu and Applebee's under-550-calorie lineup.
Not Your Same old Restaurant? You bet. Mobile food trucks, frugality fatigue, affordable indulgence and consumers becoming recession weary are all trends that will define the winners and losers in the next several years as the economy and the consumer evolves.