The 2015 National Restaurant Association Show, to be held May 16–19 at Chicago’s McCormick Place convention center, will draw nearly 65,000 foodservice industry employees and operators looking to learn about new industry trends, gadgets, food products and cooking techniques, as well as attend tailored education sessions covering all kinds of topics, including environmental sustainability.

With so much going on, what should you see?

Here are six must see events at the Show that NRA’s Conserve sustainability team think you shouldn’t miss. If you don’t know a lot about sustainability or how to make your own business environmentally responsible, you can start with three sustainability learning sessions:

True Tales of Unexpected Triumph: The Bumpy Path to Sustainability, May 16, 11:30 a.m., in room S402b. If you like true stories told live, you’ll love this hour-long session, based on the popular “The Moth” storytelling series. Hear personal tales from industry insiders, like Starbucks, Sodexo, and Kendall College, about how they started their own environmental efforts. (read more…)

As far back as I can remember I’ve had a passion for food and for gatherings. I grew up in Boston making pepperoni sauce with my father every Sunday. In 1984, I very distinctly remember cooking steak tips, rice pilaf and salad with tomato roses for a high-school crush. By the time I graduated, I knew I wanted to be a chef. I’ve spent every year since working toward the recent culmination of it all.

Since 2011, I’ve opened six restaurants throughout the Reno and Lake Tahoe area (Campo Reno, Burger Me Reno, chez louie, Campo Mammoth, Heritage and Reno Provisions). My most recent project, Reno Provisions, has become the absolute cornerstone of my businesses, as it acts as the supply chain for all of my other restaurants.

Reno Provisions opened in December 2014 and is our most multi-faceted property to-date. Upstairs, guests can dine in on daily specials, or purchase fresh packaged take-home ingredients. (read more…)

“Flat what?” That’s what everyone was asking when Starbucks introduced the flat white to its menu in January. “Starbucks is introducing a new drink to its menu that you’ve probably never heard of,” said ABC News. “Starbucks to serve a coffee Americans know little about,” announced CNN. “The first time I order a flat white, I have no idea what I’ve just asked for,” wrote Fast Company.

To many observers, the flat white seemingly came out of nowhere. But, like most trends (and fads), from kale to sriracha, the flat white wasn’t an overnight sensation — in fact, it has been appearing on international coffeehouse menus for years. At Datassential, we saw it pop up over and over again in International Concepts, our monthly trendspotting report that tracks international chain trends and menus. You’ll find it on the menu at U.K.-based Costa Coffee, the second largest coffeehouse chain in the world (after Starbucks); at South Korean Caffebene, which today has more than 1,800 cafes in a dozen countries (including 120 in the U.S.); even at McDonald’s restaurants in Australia (which is often cited as the home country of the flat white, though this is much disputed). (read more…)

You can’t run your restaurant without water. You use it to cook meals; clean dishes, floors and equipment. You serve it to thirsty customers and wash hands — many times over.

But the cost of water is rising quickly, and that’s taking a bite out of restaurants’ operating budgets.

By taking a few minutes to implement three simple water-saving steps, you can save $300 a year. You’d need to sell $6,000 of product to make $300 — assuming you operate on a 5% profit margin — so saving yourself some time and money through water efficiency is a big win. Here are the three tips to follow:

  • Serve water upon request: It takes three glasses of water to serve a guest just one glass. This, of course, includes figuring in the ice and washing of the glassware. Keep in mind that guests often don’t want water, so stop wasting it with this simple step.
  • (read more…)

What comes to mind when you think of an appetizer? Is it a passed platter of mini deviled eggs, a hefty plate of loaded nachos, or perhaps something more akin to a pre-dinner snack? However defined, appetizers offer operators a check-boosting opportunity for business growth. Appetizers can be less costly to produce and can allow chefs to be more trendy and experimental in offerings. They’re also often the first items shown on a restaurant menu — which means appetizers give operators the perfect opportunity to create a resounding first impression with diners. And if there’s any doubt about how appetizers could affect a company’s bottom line, look at TGI Friday’s, whose “Endless Appetizers” deal was so popular that sales during the time the promotion was offered jumped double digits. In Datassential’s upcoming MenuTrends Keynote report, we take a look at meal starters and provide insight on how you can capitalize on and enhance appetizer offerings. (read more…)