As consumers become more aware of where their food is coming from, restaurants and retailers alike are getting into the sustainability game. From a business standpoint, incorporating things like sustainable design makes sense because it helps the bottom line. But having a strong message of sustainability associated with a business is also advantageous in the food and beverage industry from a branding perspective.

For EL REY, a Mexican beer garden in Washington, D.C., sustainable design is what the business is all about. In addition to beer, margaritas, tacos, tamales and other items one would expect to find at a Mexican beer garden, diners are also treated to a unique atmosphere created by the restaurant’s structure. EL REY is D.C.’s first fully-enclosed structure that is made out of shipping containers. The building is made out of five total, along with a retractable roof over its patio area.

According to Roger Brown, EL REY’s general manager, the unique facade is often what draws customers to the restaurant. (read more…)

The 2nd Annual RIZMYs Awards are quickly approaching! Again, the ceremony will be held at the at FSTEC NexGen conference, taking place in New Orleans on September 22nd. The RIZMYs return after a successful show last year, to showcase the best social and digital brands in the Restaurant & Hospitality industry.

How the finalists are selected

What makes the RIZMYs Awards so different is that the finalists are not hand-selected. Instead, the brands are pulled from DigitalCoCo’s proprietary Restaurant Social Media Index (RSMI), the largest collection of culinary, restaurant and hospitality industry data in the world. The RSMI tracks over 200,000 restaurants and brands, and calculates data based on the mass social audience across multiple markets and countries. The selected finalists are brands with the highest social scores from all segments of the restaurant industry — from QSR, fast casual, casual dining, and fine dining.

The newly improved RIZMYs

The 2014 RIZMYs are going to be even better than last year due to some exciting changes. (read more…)

It’s no secret that social media marketing is fueling a new era in selling for companies of all sizes, and it’s especially true for small food and beverage makers that in the past might have spent years working just to expand locally before dreaming of anything bigger.

Early last month, the new product hall of the Summer Fancy Food Show was packed with small players that were making a name for their products and their brands more quickly than ever before.

“It’s a little bit obvious, but it helps us engage with our fans,” said Kelsey Hopping, marketing director at Cisse Trading Company. The New York-based company sells Fair Trade certified, non-GMO hot chocolate and baking mixes, and has been ramping up its use of social media marketing for the past few years.

In addition to building relationships with fans of the brand, Cisse’s pages and boards on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram are increasingly becoming effective sales-building tools that give the small business the chance to reach a worldwide audience, she said. (read more…)

If you followed this summer’s public debate surrounding ride sharing, specifically the car service Uber, you might have heard the term “surge pricing.” The term incensed high-ranking government officials, but surge pricing illustrates the most basic of economic concepts: When demand is high, charge more.

Airlines and hotels have been surge pricing for years. But other than a “market price” for fresh fish or other rare commodities, the restaurant industry has largely stayed away. All this could soon change as mobile ordering gains momentum. Uber raises pricing on the fly based on real-time data gathered via mobile devices, the primary source for ride requests. Digital ordering for restaurants allows a similar opportunity by enabling fluid pricing. If, for example, a concert lets out at Madison Square Garden, Uber might charge higher rates to encourage drivers to come to the area. The local burger shop might also experience a flood of mobile orders. (read more…)

Great recessions…challenged consumers…slow job growth… polar vortex…all have slowed but not stopped a 30+ year march of U.S. consumers spending more on food away from home than at home. With a slow but improving economy, a transformative event in foodservice distribution and myriad competing consumer trends, L.E.K. conducted a survey of operators to obtain their perspectives on growth, changes to their menus and thoughts on the Sysco / US Foods merger.

The results from our 2014 survey of 250 foodservice operators and decision makers suggest a growing optimism. After several years of relatively modest growth, nearly 75% of senior foodservice decision-makers believe business will be better over the next three years than it was during the past three.

They also believe that healthier eating is here to stay. Specifically, farm-to-fork matters. A growing demand for health foods, locally-sourced items, cleaner ingredients, value products and gluten-free foods has caused many restaurants to change their menus to keep up with consumers. (read more…)