Upgrading The Foodservice Experience

Foodservice venues are a burgeoning area for specialty foods, as you can read about in our story, 5 Innovators Who Are Upping the Foodservice Ante. Venues that once served run-of-the-mill quick options (think stadiums, arenas, and hospital cafeterias) are now touting menus that can compete with dining destinations. 

We saw even more examples of this at the recent Winter Fancy Food Show, through Super Sessions, panel discussions, and live interviews on our SFA News Live platform. Here are three recent developments that indicate the changing dynamic of the foodservice segment.

•   Grown: Organic Fast Food. Grown is a quick-service, six-location chain that is breaking fast food norms by offering slow-cooked, grass-fed brisket and cold-pressed juices instead of frozen beef patties and high-calorie soda. During the Super Session “Disrupt or Be Disrupted: Inside the Minds of the Innovators,” Grown’s owner Shannon Allen explained that it is the seventh eatery in the U.S. to receive full organic certification with a menu that focuses on organic, local, and sustainable foods. “Real food is not made or manufactured, it’s grown,” asserted Allen, who created the concept after struggling to find healthful fast-food options for her son, Walker, who had been diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. More game-changing than the menu is Allen’s contention that organic food is not limited to those with high incomes—one of the six locations is in a Walmart Supercenter in Orlando. “Providing value, transparency and real food made meticulously … should be the right of every family regardless of mean income or zip code,” said Allen.

•   Dunkin’ Donuts: Next-Generation Store. A new restaurant, opened in Massachusetts in January, offers a look at what a Dunkin’ Donuts can be. By emphasizing convenience and better-for-you choices through new technologies, the chain is attempting to stay relevant, especially to younger consumers that are often cynical about traditional brands. In addition to self-ordering digital kiosks and digital order status boards, a new on-the-go drive-through lane allows mobile app users to bypass the ordering lane for faster pick up. Menu offerings focus on higher quality and on-trend items like nitro-infused cold brew coffee served through a tap system and machines that allow grinding and brewing of select coffee varieties one cup at a time. 

•   Barnes and Noble: Extending the Retail Experience Through Foodservice. Last year, the company announced it would expand its full-service restaurant concept, Barnes & Noble Kitchen. While 580 of the retailer’s locations offer in-store cafes, five stores now have “upscale casual American eateries” which are sit-down restaurants run by executive chefs, complete with full menus and wine and beer offerings, explained Marisa Austin, purchasing manager, in an SFA News Live interview. It’s a concept retailers from Tiffany’s to Hy-Vee have embraced to compete with online shopping. 

You can learn more about some of these concepts as well as other innovations by viewing our SFA News Live video series on specialtyfood.com/news/section/videos.

Have you seen any new ideas in foodservice that are opening opportunity for specialty foods? Share your ideas and questions in our Q&A Forum.  
Posted by Denise Purcell on May 4, 2018 12:30 PM America/New_York