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Surprise Surprise: 2013 Full of Food

3 Jan

Checking through our newsfeed we found this article about mini burgers. We’re sorry to say that if you’re a fan, you might be out of style in the new year. Take a look at the excerpt below, and check out the full article on NPR to get the whole story on what 2013 holds for the slider!

Hold That Mini-Burger: Restaurants Forecast Food For 2013

by Jessica Stoller-Conrad

January 03, 2013 2:33 PM

Sliders. We’re over them, the National Restaurant Association says.

Bob Ingelhart/iStockphoto.com

Still ordering gazpacho and sliders at your favorite restaurant? Not pre-screening restaurant menus before you make a reservation? Well, hop in the DeLorean and set the chronometer to 2013: You’re really behind the times.

Technology is in and bacon-flavored chocolate is out, says a recent survey of 1,800 chefs across the nation.

The survey, part of the National Restaurant Association’s latest Restaurant Industry Forecast, categorized 198 menu items as “hot trends,” “yesterday’s news” or “perennial favorites.” Meant to be an annual snapshot of the entire restaurant industry, the forecast also predicts trends in restaurant technologies and consumer attitudes in the coming year, says Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of Research at the NRA.

Restaurant consumer expectations are high, even before they walk in the door. More than half of adult patrons will check out a restaurant’s menu online before their visit, the report says.

And about that menu? One of this year’s hottest restaurant tech trends includes in-house iPad menus, which offer customers high-resolution photos and detailed descriptions of dishes.

Restaurant Performance Index Is Up to Highest Level in Almost 6 Years

31 Jan

Great news for restaurants – this past December, the performance index for restaurants rose to its highest level in just about six years. Check out the stats below, from RestaurantNews.com, and read the full article on their website.

Restaurant operators reported strong same-store sales and customer traffic levels in December; Operators’ plans for capital spending at highest level in more than four years

Restaurant Performance Index Rose to Highest Level in Nearly Six Years in DecemberRestaurant Performance Index Rose to Highest Level in Nearly Six Years in December

Washington, D.C.  (RestaurantNews.com)  Fueled by solid same-store sales and traffic results and a bullish outlook among restaurant operators, the National Restaurant Association’s Restaurant Performance Index (RPI) rose sharply in December. The RPI – a monthly composite index that tracks the health of and outlook for the U.S. restaurant industry – stood at 102.2 in December, up 1.6 percent from November and its highest level in nearly six years. In addition, December represented the third time in the last four months that the RPI stood above 100, which signifies expansion in the index of key industry indicators.

“Aided by favorable weather conditions in many parts of the country, a solid majority of restaurant operators reported higher same-store sales and customer traffic levels in December,” said Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of the Research and Knowledge Group for the Association. “In addition, restaurant operators are solidly optimistic about sales growth in the months ahead, and their outlook for the economy is at its strongest point in nearly a year.”

“Coupled with the solid November results, the RPI’s impressive December performance bodes well for continued positive industry momentum in the year ahead,” Riehle added. “The ripple effect will likely be felt throughout the supply chain as well, with restaurant operators’ plans for capital spending rising to its highest level in more than four years.”

Watch a video of Riehle summarizing the December RPI.

The RPI is constructed so that the health of the restaurant industry is measured in relation to a steady-state level of 100. Index values above 100 indicate that key industry indicators are in a period of expansion, and index values below 100 represent a period of contraction for key industry indicators. The RPI consists of two components, the Current Situation Index and the Expectations Index.

The Current Situation Index, which measures current trends in four industry indicators (same-store sales, traffic, labor and capital expenditures), stood at 102.1 in December – up a solid 1.9 percent from November and its strongest level in seven years. December also represented the third time in the last four months that the Current Situation Index stood above 100, which signifies expansion in the current situation indicators.

Building on a solid November performance that saw the strongest same-store sales results in more than four years, restaurant operators reported even better numbers in December. Sixty-nine percent of restaurant operators reported a same-store sales gain between December 2010 and December 2011, while only 18 percent reported a same-store sales decline. This marked the strongest net positive sales performance since February 2004, when 70 percent of operators reported a sales gain and 17 percent reported lower sales.

Restaurant operators also reported solid customer traffic results in December. Fifty-seven percent of restaurant operators reported higher customer traffic levels between December 2010 and December 2011, while just 23 percent reported a traffic decline. In November, 41 percent of operators reported higher customer traffic, while 32 percent reported a traffic decline.

In addition to positive sales and traffic levels, capital spending activity among restaurant operators continues to trend upward. Forty-eight percent of operators said they made a capital expenditure for equipment, expansion or remodeling during the last three months, the highest level in six months.

The Expectations Index, which measures restaurant operators’ six-month outlook for four industry indicators (same-store sales, employees, capital expenditures and business conditions), stood at 102.3 in December – up 1.3 percent from November and its highest level in a year. In addition, December marked the fourth consecutive month that the Expectations Index stood above 100, which represents a positive outlook among restaurant operators for business conditions in the months ahead.

For the first time in a year, a majority of restaurant operators expect their sales to be higher in the months ahead. Fifty-one percent of restaurant operators expect to have higher sales in six months (compared to the same period in the previous year), up from 41 percent who reported similarly last month. In comparison, only seven percent of restaurant operators expect their sales volume in six months to be lower than it was during the same period in the previous year, down from 12 percent last month.

Restaurant operators are also much more optimistic about the direction of the overall economy in the coming months. Thirty-nine percent of restaurant operators said they expect economic conditions to improve in six months, up from 27 percent last month and the strongest level in nearly a year. In comparison, only 11 percent of operators said they expect economic conditions to worsen in the next six months, down from 16 percent who reported similarly last month.

With higher sales and an improving economy expected in the months ahead, restaurant operators are also beefing up plans for capital spending. Fifty-five percent of restaurant operators plan to make a capital expenditure for equipment, expansion or remodeling in the next six months, up from 47 percent last month and the strongest level in more than four years.

The RPI is based on the responses to the National Restaurant Association’s Restaurant Industry Tracking Survey, which is fielded monthly among restaurant operators nationwide on a variety of indicators including sales, traffic, labor, and capital expenditures. The full report and a video summary are available online.

The RPI is released on the last business day of each month, and more detailed data and analysis can be found on Restaurant TrendMapper (www.restaurant.org/trendmapper), the Association’s subscription-based service that provides detailed analysis of restaurant industry trends.

National Restaurant Association’s Restaurant Performance Index
Values Greater than 100 = Expansion; Values Less than 100 = Contraction
Restaurant Performance Index Rose to Highest Level in Nearly Six Years in DecemberSource: National Restaurant Association

Founded in 1919, the National Restaurant Association is the leading business association for the restaurant industry, which comprises 960,000 restaurant and foodservice outlets and a workforce of nearly 13 million employees. We represent the industry in Washington, D.C., and advocate on its behalf. We operate the industry’s largest trade show (NRA Show May 5-8, 2012, in Chicago); leading food safety training and certification program (ServSafe); unique career-building high school program (the NRAEF’s ProStart, including the National ProStart Invitational April 27-29, 2012, in Baltimore, Md.); as well as the Kids LiveWell program promoting healthful kids’ menu options. For more information, visit www.restaurant.org and find us on Twitter @WeRRestaurants, Facebook and YouTube.

Why Did I Come Upstairs Again?

7 Nov

As a significant portion of our population reaches an age where memory can start to become a problem, articles like this one (from gigabiting.com) are particularly helpful. Read up on five “brain foods” to help keep your cognitive powers well-oiled and in top shape!

5 Foods for Senior Moments

We’re having a national senior moment.

Baby boomers, those born between 1946 and 1964, are a demographic time bomb. Making up nearly one-third of the population, they’ve reached the age of memory loss, slowed reflexes, and synaptic glitches. That’s 75 million boomers that can’t remember what they went upstairs for.

Brain foods really work.
In the same way that a low cholesterol diet can keep plaque from forming in arteries, there are foods that can keep plaque from forming in your brain. You can unclog your cognitive functions just like you can unclog your arteries.

There are also foods that can sharpen your focus and concentration, enhance your memory, and speed your reaction times. Add them to your diet early enough and you can stave off cognitive decline later in life…….

Read the full article: 5 Foods for Senior Moments

Take Back Your Lunch

23 Sep

It seems that we all may be happier, have more energy, and be more productive if we took a couple of minutes to eat lunch away from our desks. Have you ever heard of a Take Back Your Lunch meetup? Find out more in the article below, and leave your thoughts at the bottom of this post!

Overworked? Take Back Your Lunch Hour

From CNN Money

By Anne Fisher

September 2, 2010

Dear Annie: Your article about why everyone should take a vacation (“5 ways to take a guilt-free vacation,” June 2) got a lot of attention in my office, and we all agree that we are exhausted and need some downtime. But how are we supposed to take our vacations when we can’t even get away from our desks long enough to go out for lunch? I work for a big company where so many people have been laid off in the past two years that, even with business relatively slow, we are all putting in 10- and 12-hour days (for weeks on end) just to get the work out the door.

Our boss eats a 10-minute lunch at his desk every day, so we all do the same. Yet, on the odd days when I take a short walk at lunchtime or (gasp) go to the gym for half an hour, I feel so much less stressed, and get so much more done in the afternoon, that I really believe our whole department would function better if everyone took a real lunch break on a regular basis. Can you please suggest some way to talk to my boss about this without seeming like a slacker?

Brown Bagging It

Dear B.B.I.: It’s a sad day when leaving your desk for 30 minutes can make you fear being branded a slacker, but welcome to the post-recession world. Interestingly, lots of other people have reached the same conclusion you have, at roughly the same time: A break in the middle of the day, to refresh and recharge, can do wonders for morale and productivity.

This summer, a company called The Energy Project launched a weekly event in public parks around the U.S. called Take Back Your Lunch. The effort was aimed at getting people out of the office for a little while at noontime Wednesdays for food and non-work-related conversation. The first round of gatherings proved so popular that the idea spread to more than 50 cities, including New York City, Pittsburgh, Nashville, Atlanta, Dayton, Minneapolis, Miami, San Francisco, and Honolulu. It’s even caught on in a few places overseas, like Mumbai, India and Koln, Germany.

Great, but how do you get your boss on board? You might point out that Take Back Your Lunch is the brainchild of Energy Project’s founder Tony Schwartz, who has consulted on boosting workforce productivity with dozens of big successful outfits — like Google, Sony, Ford, Ernst & Young, Gillette, and the Cleveland Clinic. Schwartz also is the author of a fascinating new book, The Way We’re Working Isn’t Working: The Four Forgotten Needs That Energize Great Performance (Free Press, $28.00).

One of the needs to which the subtitle refers: A break now and then. This sounds like common sense, and it is, but our technology-saturated culture, driven by computers that are “on” 24/7, has caused many people (like your boss, perhaps) to lose sight of the obvious. “We’re far more complex than any machine and we have vastly more moving parts. Still, most of us are more vigilant about refueling and maintaining our cars than we are about taking care of ourselves,” observes Schwartz. “When demand in our lives intensifies, our pattern is to hunker down and push harder, rather than to refuel more frequently.” Sound familiar?

The trouble with pushing harder and allowing ourselves less downtime, Schwartz says, is that “past a certain point, you become less efficient. The real measure of productivity is the value you generate, not the number of hours you put in.”

Since companies are, or claim to be, all about generating value, Schwartz and his Energy Project colleagues have done extensive research on how to do it in a sustainable way. “We’ve discovered that managing energy is better than managing time, because time is finite, but energy is renewable,” he says. “If you manage your energy better, you can do far more in far less time.”

To see how well you’re currently doing at managing your energy, and get customized suggestions for improving things, take The Energy Project’s quick 20-question test. Schwartz’s firm has administered this quiz to thousands of employees over the past ten years. The results are usually “depressing but eye-opening,” he says. “The average score is 14 — that is, out of 20 behaviors people regularly engage in, 14 are energy-depleting.”

Just for fun, you might encourage your boss and your colleagues to take the test as well. At the very least, this exercise could kick off some interesting discussions.

“We want to encourage people to go ahead and do what they instinctively know is best for them and makes them most productive,” says Schwartz. “In many companies now, there is very little acknowledgment, or none at all, of the plain fact that work is out of whack. So our purpose is to start the conversation.”

Who knows, maybe a group of you can start leaving your desks for a bite to eat on Wednesdays — or maybe even (imagine it!) on a few other days as well. There are still a few weeks of summer left — to find a Take Back Your Lunch event near you, or to start one, go to meetup.com/Take-Back-Your-Lunch, or takebackyourlunch.com. You can also check it out on Twitter, at twitter.com/tbylunch.

Restaurant Outlook Positive So Far in 2011

31 May

The overall outlook is positive right now for restaurant performance, as reported by the National Restaurant Association. March and April are showing solid stats, and restaurant operators are signaling their confidence in the dining industry thus far. Despite some negativity towards the chances of economic recovery, many restaurants are stocking up on items to help them bring in more business – such as new equipment.  The year is still relatively young, but so far it looks like restaurants are holding steady!

We’re sharing the following excerpts from an article recently published on restaurantnews.com. Follow this link to read the full post in its original location.

Restaurant Industry Outlook Remains Positive as Restaurant Performance Index Stood Above 100 for Fifth Consecutive Month

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011 at 11:13 am

Buoyed by positive same-store sales and solid optimism among restaurant operators for continued growth, the outlook for the restaurant industry remained positive in April. The National Restaurant Association’s Restaurant Performance Index (RPI) – a monthly composite index that tracks the health of and outlook for the U.S. restaurant industry – stood at 100.9 in April, essentially unchanged from a level of 101.0 in March. In addition, April represented the fifth consecutive month in which the RPI stood above 100, which signifies expansion in the index of key industry indicators.

“The restaurant industry continued to build momentum in April, with restaurant operators reporting positive same-store sales and customer traffic levels for the sixth time in the last eight months,” said Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of the Research and Knowledge Group for the Association. “Barring any significant external shocks, restaurant sales and traffic levels will continue to improve in the months ahead.”

Restaurant operators continued to report net positive same-store sales results in April. Fifty percent of restaurant operators reported a same-store sales gain between April 2010 and April 2011, down slightly from 52 percent of operators who reported higher same-store sales in March. In comparison, 31 percent of operators reported a same-store sales decline in April, matching the proportion of operators who reported lower sales in March.

Restaurant operators also reported a net increase in customer traffic in April, although levels were somewhat softer than the March results. Thirty-eight percent of restaurant operators reported an increase in customer traffic between April 2010 and April 2011, down from 45 percent of operators who reported higher traffic in March. In comparison, 35 percent of operators reported a traffic decline in April, up from 32 percent in March.

Capital spending activity among restaurant operators trended upward in recent months. Forty-eight percent of operators said they made a capital expenditure for equipment, expansion or remodeling during the last three months, the highest level in nearly three years.

Restaurant operators remain bullish about sales growth in the months ahead. Forty-seven percent of restaurant operators expect to have higher sales in six months (compared to the same period in the previous year), down slightly from 50 percent who reported similarly last month. In comparison, just 13 percent of restaurant operators expect their sales volume in six months to be lower than it was during the same period in the previous year, matching the proportion who reported similarly last month.

While restaurant operators’ sales outlook remains positive, they aren’t quite as optimistic about the direction of the overall economy in the coming months. Thirty-three percent of restaurant operators said they expect economic conditions to improve in six months, up slightly from 32 percent who reported similarly last month. In comparison, 17 percent of operators said they expect economic conditions to worsen in the next six months, compared to 19 percent who reported similarly last month.

Restaurant operators reported a slight dropoff in plans for capital spending in the months ahead. Forty-nine percent of restaurant operators plan to make a capital expenditure for equipment, expansion or remodeling in the next six months, down slightly from 53 percent who reported similarly last month.

For the seventh consecutive month, restaurant operators reported a positive outlook for staffing levels in the coming months. Twenty-four percent of restaurant operators plan to increase staffing levels in six months (compared to the same period in the previous year), while just 11 percent said they expect to reduce staffing levels in six months.

The RPI is based on the responses to the National Restaurant Association’s Restaurant Industry Tracking Survey, which is fielded monthly among restaurant operators nationwide on a variety of indicators including sales, traffic, labor, and capital expenditures. The full report and a video summary are available online.