February 14, 2013
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Restaurant SmartBrief

On the Front Burner
Report: Restaurant-goers to visit more, spend less in 2013
U.S. consumers are on track to drive restaurant traffic about 3% higher this year, but they play to shave about 4.7% off the average check by seeking out coupons, discounts and deals, according to new research from AlixPartners. "As consumers get more demanding, and as the fight for share of stomach continues to increase, everyone is looking for a competitive edge," said restaurant practice co-leader Eric Dzwonczyk. Reuters (2/13)
Restaurant News
Health officials push FDA for sugar limits
Public health officials from several U.S. cities including Boston and Los Angeles joined the Center for Science in the Public Interest in urging the Food and Drug Administration to regulate the amount of caloric sweeteners allowed in soft drinks and put voluntary limits on sugar in cereals and packaged snacks. "We felt it was very important for us to make a statement that the FDA should be making policy about what the appropriate level of sugar consumption is," said Lora Lacey-Haun, co-chair of the Kansas City Health Commission. The New York Times (tiered subscription model) (2/13)
Bloomberg aims to end styrofoam packaging
Mayor Michael Bloomberg will propose a ban on styrofoam packaging in New York City, one of several sustainability initiatives he'll propose in his final State of the City address on Thursday. His other proposals include a curbside food-composting pilot program and a push for more electric vehicles. Bloomberg (2/14)
Other News
Your Take
Is your restaurant offering a special menu for Valentine's Day?
Yes, we will offer specials or a prix fixe menu on Thursday only  43.61%
Yes, we will offer specials or a prix fixe menu multiple days this week  30.08%
No, we will not offer any specials for Valentine's Day  26.32%
Leading Voices
Brands are seeing value in "purpose" campaigns
More companies are highlighting their charitable and environmental efforts in a bid to win brand loyalty through so-called purpose marketing, according to this article. Panera, for example, donates unsold baked goods to anti-hunger organizations, and through agency Cramer-Krasselt has launched a $70 million campaign with the tagline "Live consciously. Eat deliciously." "When people who like the company for the food hear about the kind of company it is, it changes how they feel; they like it even more, for more emotional, more potent, more loyalty-driving reasons," said Marshall Ross, chief creative officer at Cramer-Krasselt. The New York Times (tiered subscription model) (2/13)
Is your catering business living up to its potential?
Restaurants that branch out into catering increase their opportunities to create a bigger base of loyal fans, writes consultant and 15-year catering industry veteran Erle Dardick. He shares 10 tips for building the catering business, starting with basics like providing reliable service and making ordering easy. PizzaMarketplace.com (2/13)
Chefs debate server minimum wage on Twitter
A tweet from Tom Colicchio in support of President Barack Obama's proposal to raise the minimum wage kicked off a debate that drew in other chefs and restaurateurs on the question of whether tipped workers need a raise. The New York Times (tiered subscription model)/Diner's Journal blog (2/13)
Other News
Culinary Spotlight
Dinner kits merge delivery and home cooking
New food delivery services such as Plated and Blue Apron will buy, measure, cut and package food for delivery directly to a customer's door, who then just follow the recipe inside. The service simplifies the act of cooking a meal, perhaps too much for some. "I felt completely infantilized when I saw all the ingredients laid out, as if a grown-up had to do it for me," said culinary historian Laura Shapiro. The New York Times (tiered subscription model) (2/12)
Food for Thought
Continuity gives us roots; change gives us branches, letting us stretch and grow and reach new heights.
Pauline Kezer,
American politician

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