Today’s food business landscape is constantly evolving. Packaged goods manufacturers are taking inspiration from high-end culinary trends (and vice versa), and increasingly savvy consumers are demanding food that is healthy, sustainable and craveable. To help the next generation of food entrepreneurs respond to these new challenges, the Culinary Institute of America is expanding its focus with The Food Business School, a new center for executive and graduate education that will prepare students for the next era of food business.

The school’s Spring semester will begin in March, and registration for classes opened on Wednesday. Food industry entrepreneurs, designers, big name chefs and business professors from Stanford, UC Berkeley and UC Davis will make up the school’s faculty. Some CIA graduates will also teach classes at FBS, including Michael Chiarello, Neil Grimmer and Emilie Baltz.

SmartBrief interviewed Dean and Executive Director William Rosenzweig about what makes FBS stand out and the kind of businesses that might be launched there. (read more…)

Many restaurant owners want to recycle, but don’t know how or where to begin.

Starting with a big, complex recycling program can be difficult for a number of reasons: Different cities and counties take different materials; training staff can be time consuming; and establishing a front-of-house recycling bin system can take up considerable space.

Instead of tackling everything at once, you can start by recycling the material that takes up about 25% of your dumpster — cardboard.

If you haven’t already started your recycling program, focus on cardboard first. It will help you get a big bang for your buck in dumpster savings and potential revenues from recycling the material. Here are seven steps to successful cardboard recycling:

  • Find out if you can place a recycling bin on premise. If you are renting your space, check your lease before doing anything else to make sure additional bins can be placed out back.
  • (read more…)

Social media is now entwined into the everyday activities of consumers. It is a comfortable environment for consumers where they are not afraid to be candid about their opinions. If a diner has a fantastic, good, mediocre, or bad experience at a restaurant — the chances are high that they are going to share their experience on social for everyone to see.

The uncontrolled environment of social media is often construed as a double-edged sword for businesses. But if restaurants can make sense of this unstructured social data, it can be used to better understand their customers and ultimately cater the dining experience to what their diners want and expect.

So which restaurants are performing the best by social consumer sentiment on food and service? Foodable has been releasing the Top 25 Restaurants monthly by city for over a year now. These rankings are determined by the organic social data pulled from 17 different social media platforms by the Restaurant Social Media Index (RSMI), a comprehensive database proprietary to Foodable’s sister agency, DigitalCoCo. (read more…)

The start of a new year is a popular time to reflect on the trends that will affect the coming seasons. One trend hitting the restaurant industry is pizza concept franchisees expanding into the sub sandwich segment. This is a recipe for success as sub and pizza makers discover operating efficiencies, which bring the two businesses together as perfectly as lettuce and tomato.

For pizza concept operators, entering the sub sandwich business is generally a diversification strategy. However, in rarer cases, individuals have sold their existing pizza business to become a sub sandwich operator. In either case, these operators cite one important consideration in their decision to enter the segment: As larger, more mature systems, the pizza chains provide less organic growth opportunity for existing franchisees, particularly in home markets.

The impact of this trend on the Jersey Mike’s system, where the vast majority of our nearly 900 restaurants are owned/operated by franchisees, has been profound. (read more…)

Not too many years ago, the phrase “vegan restaurant” could conjure up images of spartan, tasteless and distinctly unsatisfying fare. Now, veg-savvy chefs are hitting the mainstream, winning over herbivores and omnivores alike with sophisticated, surprising plant-based menus.

Fine-dining eatery Vedge beat out all of Philadelphia’s other restaurants to take the Best Food title in Zagat’s most recent survey of the city’s eateries. And on Thursday, Eater named it one of the top 38 places in the country to eat this year, with a review that ended “The place simply serves breathtaking food that also happens to be vegan.”

“We started this when vegan restaurants were not grouped in with everything else,” said co-owner and chef Rich Landau. “It was like the new age section in the music store, it was in a separate area and you would have to walk through the beaded curtain to the back room to find it.”

Landau and his wife and business partner, Kate Jacoby, began building a mainstream clientele with their earlier restaurant Horizons. (read more…)