As more consumers seek out craft beverages and premium drinks, many restaurants and retailers are taking their own beverage programs to the next level in order to set themselves apart. Now you’ll find artisan juice flights, tableside cocktail service, even coffee shops roasting beans to individual customer specifications. And while these unique beverage options certainly earn press and attention, they also speak to overall industry trends like customization and the integration of technology with the dining experience.

Many restaurateurs, for instance, are looking to the premium experience associated with wine — dedicated wine menus, sommeliers, tasting portions, etc. — and translating that experience to beer, craft sodas, etc. At Chicago’s Coppervine, every dish is menued with beer and cocktail pairing suggestions in addition to the wine suggestion, and servers are trained to note how each beverage complements the dish in different ways. Other gastropubs, brewpubs, and high-end restaurants have a certified cicerone (pronounced “sis-uh-rohn”), or beer sommelier, on hand in order to explain flavor notes and help customers choose the right beer pairing. (read more…)

“Now, it’s loading the menu and pricing for this location.”

My guide was walking me through a top QSR brand’s soon-to-be-released iPhone ordering application. Meanwhile, the clock ticked as an animated pinwheel churned away for an eternity (ok, it was just a few seconds — but an eternity in mobile time).

I waited but it is much more likely that a customer would lose patience, bail out and decide to eat somewhere else right about the moment the guide said, “now.”

Here’s the simple fact as we approach the end of 2014: Customers want to order and engage with your brand through an app on their smartphones. At the same time, they’re increasingly selective about what mobile apps they keep on their devices. Only highly controlled experiences that are intuitive, fast, and provide true convenience stand a chance.

Brands can no longer compromise between a beautifully designed interface, smart user flow, and snappy performance – they are all essential to keep customers repeatedly using an app and recommending it to others. (read more…)

With fast casual restaurants rapidly on the rise, the restaurant industry has forever changed. Even though fast casuals are emerging as the consumer favorite, this evolving segment has yet to be defined. Foodable WebTV Network has ventured to inform the industry and consumers with the first and only WebTV series about the segment, Fast Casual Nation. The episodes feature exclusive interviews from top chefs, restaurateurs and other industry insiders, while giving the viewer a close-up look at the menus that are changing the way America eats.

Foodable WebTV Network is taking it one step further by revealing a more in-depth look into the segment by producing Fast Casual Nation– The Documentary. It will be available for the mainstream audience of Netflix subscribers in early 2015. Watch the trailer below to get a preview of what is to come!

A first of its kind, the documentary explores the birth of the Fast Casual restaurant segment through exclusive interviews with the industry insiders, who started it all. (read more…)

Today’s consumer is hungry for product information – trends such as farm-to-table and clean eating all point to a population that wants to know more about where their food comes from. Consumer packaged goods brands’ increasing web presence and use of social media and mobile applications are making it easier than ever for shoppers to get information about products, whether they are shopping in a store or online.

However, while product information is easy to come by, it may not always be accurate. As many as three-quarters of consumers find inconsistent product information while shopping, according to a recent study from eBay Enterprise and CFI Group.

As more consumers embrace omni-channel retail, CPG companies are dedicating more resources to brand management to ensure consumers encounter consistent product information and brand messaging at every stage of their interaction with the brand.

“Accurate product information and inventory visibility have historically been supply chain issues but are now grabbing the attention of marketing departments, as it is becoming clear that consumers are sophisticated users of product information and more and more purchasing decisions are influenced by a variety of information sources,” said Angela Fernandez, vice president of retail grocery and foodservice at GS1 US, a non-profit information standards organization that advocates for a common language of business across industries ranging from healthcare to retail grocery. (read more…)

When we think of New York and food, most likely our minds turn first to the fancy restaurants and funky joints that serve New York City’s diverse cuisines, but there’s another, equally vibrant culinary side to the Empire State. The state’s artisan food-makers have reached some kind of critical mass in recent years, a trend that has spurred more entrepreneurs to jump in.

In 2011, the state launched Taste NY, a program aimed at marketing New York’s artisan food and agricultural businesses, and this month Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced plans to substantially expand the program and help producers triple their sales.

“We like the trend we are seeing, we like the efforts launched by the Department of Agriculture and Markets. We haven’t seen that kind of effort before and it’s gaining a lot of momentum,” said Barkeater co-founder and Head Chocolatier Deb Morris.

Similar programs that have succeeded in other states have helped foodie communities gain momentum, Morris said. (read more…)