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New England Chapter of FCSI donates $20,000

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$20,000 was raised for charity at the New England FCSI chapter's 10th annual Holiday Social. Pictured above are Eric Swartz, father of Emily Swartz and executive chef at Davio’s Boston (left) with Edward Arons, Chairman of FCSI New England, senior associate at Colburn & Guyette Foodservice.

At a recent gathering in Boston, MA, the New England Chapter of the Foodservice Consultants Society International (FCSI) celebrated their 10th annual Holiday Social and raised $20,000 for the Greater Boston Food Bank and the Emily A. Swartz Scholarship Foundation.

“It’s important to us that we support our industry, spend time with friends and help others at this time of year”, says Edward Arons, Chairman of the local FCSI chapter and Senior Associate at Colburn & Guyette, a foodservice design firm based out of Rockland, MA. “After 10 years of donating to the Food bank, it has become tradition, and this year we wanted to continue that tradition as well as start a new one”.

In addition to the Greater Boston Food Bank, FCSI New England will be donating to a local charity as well. This year’s recipient is the Emily A. Swartz Scholarship Foundation, which was created in memorial of Emily Swartz. The daughter of Davio’s executive chef, Eric Swartz, Emily was in fourth grade at Indian Brook Elementary in Plymouth, MA when she passed away suddenly in June 2013. While this foundation is still in its infancy its goal is to give back to the school and community programmes that Emily loved most.

In order to be able to make this contribution, the following companies sponsored the event, which was held at Davio’s in downtown Boston and attended by more than 100 industry people from around the country. Gold Sponsors: C.R. Peterson, Continental Refrigerator, Dave Swain Associates, Hatch-Jennings, Hobart/Traulsen/Vulcan, True Food Service Equipment. Silver Sponsors: Alto Shaam, Earthstone Ovens & the Viola Group. Bronze Sponsors: Advance/Tabco, Air Solutions & Balancing, American Panel, BSI, Champion Industries, Crowley Marketing, Eagle Group, English Manufacturing, Follett, Keating of Chicago, Lang, Marlo Mfg., Montague, Salvajor, T&S Brass, ThermalRite, TJM Consulting, Unified Brands, Univex Corp., Victory Refrigeration & Wyllie Marketing. The New England chapter of FCSI also made a sizeable contribution.

This annual event is one of two large charity fundraisers organized by the New England chapter of the FCSI.

For more information, please contact New England Chapter Secretary, Chandra Comfort at (781) 826-5522.

Back in September Foodservice Consultant spoke with the management team at GG Hospitality to discuss their planned Café Football concept. On 12 December Michael Jones was in London for their opening night kick off and spoke to Ryan Giggs and Gary Neville about their hopes and dreams for their future in the hospitality business

The new Café Football restaurant in London’s Westfield Stratford shopping centre is a smart, welcoming and distinctly cool-looking venue; all muted greys, blacks and whites and subtle lighting. Football-based epithets like Hustle & Heart Set Us Apart are printed on the walls while TV screens unobtrusively show clips of kids from around the world showing off their skills and celebrating their goals. But this is most definitely not a sports bar. There’s not a signed football shirt in sight and none of the usual sporting paraphernalia adorning the walls. So hats off to owners and footballing icons Ryan Giggs and Gary Neville for resisting the urge to go down that route.

On opening night, while GG Hospitality’s managing director Stuart Proctor proved to be a genial host for the evening and his executive chef Brendan Fyldes dished up an array of delicious canapés – teasers from the menu that Café Football will now serve to customers – Giggs and Neville were both clearly enjoying themselves hugely and feeling positive about the future for the Café Football brand.

For Giggs, this has been something of a labour of love. “Me and Gary started thinking about this three or four years ago and it’s evolved into what you see here now,” he said. “It’s taken a lot of really hard work. Meeting Stuart gave us a leg up into the hospitality market with his expertise. Sourcing the chefs and working with Brendan and Michael [Wignall, creative director] was so important.”

And while many celebrity owners of restaurants are happy to just put in the money and sit back, watching their investment grow, for Giggs it was vital that he and Neville were committed to the project from the start. “Gary and I have been very hands-on throughout the whole process. We wanted to do it right; do it well. But it’s been a team effort,” he says. “Gary, myself, Stuart, Michael and Brendan have worked well together, had lots of meetings and deliberations about the menu. We all wanted this to be perfect, the best we could do, and so that’s why we were hands-on. We didn’t want to just leave it to someone else.”

So, what does success look like to Giggs? “Hopefully the punters who come will enjoy good food and good service. We know we have the capability to roll this out to different locations, but we want to get this one right first. We want to walk before we run. The main focus is on Westfield Stratford at the moment. But let’s see what the future holds. Hopefully in about five year’s time we could have 15 or 20.”

For Gary Neville it was vital that they got the look and feel of the restaurant right. “We’re really happy with the way it looks and we’ve achieved what we wanted to achieve,” he said. “We wanted it to have subtle references to football. This is not a sports bar. It’s not about celebrity; it’s about the roots of football. The team has worked tremendously hard. Ryan and I have learned the importance of having a good spirit throughout the years and there is a wonderful team spirit here in the group. We are hopeful we’ll do well. A lot of work has gone into this over the last twelve to eighteen months. There are people here tonight who have contributed towards that in a big way.”

Choosing the right location was very important to the team. “When we came down to Westfield Stratford we were stunned,” said Neville. “It’s wonderful. It has incredible shops, a great quality of restaurants. There’s tremendous footfall and great sporting connections.”

The food on the menu at Café Football is a mixture of smart new variations on old favourites such as chicken in a basket and fish and chips alongside perennial kids’ fodder of hot dogs, pizza and fish finger sandwiches. There is also a distinct touch of the playful in dishes like the ‘Vimto Ripple’ and ‘Nev’s Noodle Pot’.

“We wanted the menu to be about sharing food with your friends or family, to bring back memories from your childhood and the atmosphere of going to a football match,” said Giggs, a self-confessed “chocaholic” who admits to liking the menu’s melting chocolate football the best. “The quality of food is really important, and so is the service. Our old manager Sir Alex Ferguson used to always tell us before a match ‘go out there and enjoy it. Have fun’ and we want everybody who comes here to have fun too. If we can achieve, that we’ll be happy.”

The team’s Hotel Football concept, which launches in Manchester next year, remains on track. “That’s going well,” said Giggs. “We’re looking to open at the end of September 2014. It’s been great to have Stuart’s expertise in the hotel market, but again, we’ve all been hands-on. We’ve been involved in the new designs, picking the beds, selecting what goes on the walls in the rooms, looking at the Café Football pitch on the roof. So, we’ve been involved in every little aspect of Hotel Football, too.”

Read our September feature, Left Field, with Stuart Procter, Michael Wignall and Brendan Fyldes

Michael Jones

 

The UAE has won the bid to host the World Expo 2020 in Dubai. With anything between a predicted 45,000–60,000 new hotel rooms being required for the event, Michael Jones considers on the opportunity this presents

Lasting for a six-month period and held every five years, World Expo trade conventions draw millions of visitors and are considered a potent catalyst for economic, cultural and social transformation. On 27 November Dubai beat off rival bids from Russian, Brazil and Turkey to become the first Middle Eastern city to hold the Expo.

As the announcement was made in Paris by Bureau International des Expositions (BIE), the international body of 167 member states responsible for deciding the calendar, selection and organisation of World Expo, fireworks exploded up the length of the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building. The ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid al-Maktoum, has vowed to “astonish the world” with the event.

“Dubai Expo 2020 will breathe new life into the ancient role of the Middle East as a melting pot for cultures and creativity,” he said.

Organisers in Dubai have predicted that the Expo 2020 will generate revenues of approximately $23bn (€17bn), while financing the six-month event will cost a total of $8.4bn (€6.2bn), with the UAE government spending around $6.5bn (€4.8bn) on infrastructure projects.

Previous expos have set an extraordinary benchmark for showcasing new innovation since the inaugural World Expo in 1851 in London when six million people visited The Great Exhibition. The commissioning of the Eiffel Tower, escalators, diesel engines, Ferris wheels, talking films. the introduction of the telephone to the general public, the commercial typewriter and Heinz Tomato Ketchup have all been launched at World Expos since.

The UAE’s organising committee has selected the theme ‘Connecting minds, creating the future’ for the 2020 event, with the Expo giving hundreds of exhibitors the opportunity to show off the latest in architectural and technological innovation as visitors explore pavilions, shows and cultural events staged by participants including nations, global organisations and businesses.

So, with a predicted 70% of the expected 25 million visitors originating from outside the host nation, making it the most international event in the history of Expo and with the creation of approximately 277,000 jobs, according to consultancy Oxford Economics, what are the implications for the hospitality industry in Dubai? A vast exhibition centre will be built to host the event, as well as a host of new hotels and an extension to Dubai’s metro line. Experts have predicted anything between 45,000-60,000 new hotel rooms needed to house visitors in projects in the surrounding area of the proposed 438-hectare Expo site in Jebel Ali, near Dubai’s new airport.

“Dubai’s real estate growth will be in this area,” Craig Plumb, regional head of research at consultants Jones Lang LaSalle told Reuters’ Treasury correspondent for the Gulf Martin Dokoupil earlier this year. “There’s a need for more hotels close to the Expo site.”

But there are also inherent risks with such investment as property developers may speculate too high and construct too many commercial projects in anticipation of demand. Such a situation occurred between 2008-2010, when the worldwide financial crisis caused property prices in Dubai to plummet in excess of 50%. It is also by no means certain that the Expo will make a profit. The World Expo in Shanghai in 2010 enjoyed an operating profit of over 1 billion yuan ($164 million), but the World Expo in 2000 in Hanover lost approximately $1bn when attendance fell short of forecasts.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, remains defiantly optimistic that the Expo in Dubai will be both successful and profitable. “To take a risk and fail is not a failure,” he said in a book launched before the announcement of the successful bid. “The real failure is the fear of taking any risk… If we had waited for regional stability to be restored before launching our large projects, where would we stand today?”

Quite how many new hotels will be built to reflect the positivity of Dubai’s leaders remains to be seen, but already the city is well blessed with some of the finest hotels and restaurants in the world. The JW Marriott Marquis Hotel Dubai, named the world’s tallest hotel by Guinness World Records, made its debut in November 2012, boasting 14 restaurants, bars and lounges, including Levant, an Arabic restaurant, and Rang Mahal from Michelin Star chef Atul Kochhar. The Burj Al Arab, also grabbed headlines across the globe this year when it presented each guest with a 24-karat gold iPad upon check-in at the luxury hotel, where rooms start at $1,525 a night.

The next World Expo will take place in Milan, Italy, in 2015 with the focus: ‘Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life’.

Michael Jones

 

 

Heather Balsley, senior vice president of the Americas for the Holiday Inn brand family speaks with Amelia Levin about a new campaign to update the brand for the next generation of guests

Why did Holiday Inn decide to complete the $1bn global brand relaunch?

The Holiday Inn “Change Your View” campaign was launched as a way to reintroduce the brand to a new generation of guests who are not familiar with the Holiday Inn brand today and the changes made to the estate. Through improvements in the design and décor of our properties and this new campaign, we want our audience to understand we have changed and recognise there is more to the brand than what they may remember or have heard.

Was there a particular architect or design group involved?

The Holiday Inn brand worked with several architects and design groups to create an approved standard room design package to offer our franchisees as a result of the Holiday Inn global brand relaunch. The brand also supplied a list of approved vendors for franchisees to choose from in order to execute the alterations.

What were the changes to the room design as part of the new campaign?

Beginning with a total investment of approximately $32m in renovations at the Holiday Inn Chicago-Mart Plaza River North hotel, the global relaunch focused on improvements to arrival and welcome services and guestroom and guest bath comfort as well as on a redesigned the logo and signage. Changes also include modern design touches throughout the lobby and an efficient check-in experience. Improvements to the guestrooms include modern décor and amenities to make guests feel more at home. For example, the beds have a crisp white duvet and different pillow choices for maximum comfort. Improvements to the room include warm lighting, sleek furniture, flat screen HDTVs and artwork that reflects each individual hotel’s location.

How about the bathrooms?

In the bathroom, guests will find power showerheads and Bath & Body Works toiletries. Additionally, all over-tub showers now have curved shower rods and redesigned shower curtains that allow more room and light.

What were the changes to the restaurant/foodservice offerings? Is there a prototype for restaurant and retail food offerings at Holiday Inn going forward?

The Holiday Inn brand guest is social, so we know it’s important to have a restaurant and bar at every Holiday Inn hotel location, which is something we already offer. As part of the next phase for the brand, we recently introduced an active lobby concept in a few test hotels following the global brand relaunch. The redesigned lobbies feature a fresh, modern and open floor plan combining the restaurant, bar and lobby experience into one cohesive space offering flexible options for guests to eat, drink, relax and have fun. The concept includes a redesigned food and beverage menu in the restaurant/bar, and a grab & go café featuring a market open 24/7.

How will you roll that out?

Starting in 2014, the Holiday Inn brand will begin rolling out a modular approach to our active lobby concept. There will be several different levels of lobby and restaurant décor solutions to give hotels going through various stages of renovation the parts they need to make their lobby and restaurant space modern and contemporary and perform well against the competition.

Amelia Levin

 

In her regular Foodservice Consultant blog, FCSI UK & Ireland's chair Niccola Boyd-Stevenson discusses NHS food, school meals and the future of foodservice

After the launch of FCSI’s Taste of the Future 2020 report in October and many hot topics being discussed in the press, the past few months have been exciting and very busy for the FCSI.

In my last blog I was looking forward to the results of the Taste of the Future 2020 (TOTF2020) report. At its launch on 15th October, Simon Stenning of Allegra Strategies gave a fantastic presentation on its outcomes and created a tangible picture of the future of the foodservice industry.

Key industry influencing outcomes from the report include; the ageing population, market expectations, sustainability and new cuisine trends. Interviews were conducted with senior executives and consultants within the foodservice market, as well incorporating a younger person’s perspective for varying viewpoints on current food markets and how these may develop.

Just when you thought it can’t get any busier, the report found that caterers will have a lot more work to do by 2020 as consumers will expect more from the market, wanting longer opening hours and more food choices available to them. Not only are new food concepts already moving in different directions, the report highlights the importance of recognising how and why they are changing and what we need to do to deliver it effectively, including the beliefs that in years to come we will be eating crickets and scorpions just like the celebrities in the jungle!

Another topic that has come to my attention is the provision of free school meals for four to seven-year-olds that is to be rolled out on September 2014. I fully support this as a sustainable solution to get children to eat regularly, well and nutritionally. I look forward to seeing cookery lessons reintroduced as compulsory in the school curriculum to help pupils have a more tangible experience with food.  I see this project as a positive change and support the fantastic intentions behind it. However, it was also announced that underprivileged 16-18 year old FE students will be provided with free school meals at the end of next year. Nevertheless, there has been little publicity surrounding this which, unfortunately, makes me question its implementation.

My final thoughts are with the recent publicity on NHS hospital food. It is encouraging to see the government reviewing the service and quality of hospital food, which in my opinion is well overdue. With regards to the FCSI, this is a positive opportunity to work with hospital associations and trusts assisting in the process and following the positive case studies and practices, with the ultimate goal of happier, healthier and fuller patients.

All of these topics are complex and time consuming and we cannot expect to see results immediately, yet it is encouraging that the intention is to see improvement in a year’s time with school and hospital meals being perceived and received in a completely different light.

 

 

Niccola Boyd-Stevenson FCSI is UK & Ireland chair of FCSI

It’s the season of good cheer, and all things jolly. But it’s also a chance to reflect on those less fortunate than you. With UN estimates placing more than 800 million people – one in eight worldwide – in a state of undernourishment, we take a look at those providing food for the world.

KOTO

This Australian-Vietnamese organisation is a vocational training scheme that works with disadvantaged young people in Vietnam. Founded by Jimmy Pham, who was born in Vietnam and migrated to Australia as a child, the scheme helps children graduate with an internationally recognised hospitality certificate. Trainees are given accommodation and training, and graduates work in top hotels and restaurants across Vietnam, including the KOTO restaurants in Saigon or Hanoi.

There are a plethora of ways to help. You can help by sponsoring a trainee, sponsoring a brick in the restaurant, volunteering or buying a gift. Find out more here and help keep this valuable work going

Feeding America

The largest domestic hunger-relief charity in the US supplies food to more than 25 million Americans each year. Among these are 14 million children, who receive essential food from the organisation’s 202 food banks.

The group estimates that one in six people in the US don’t have enough to eat. These are often hard-working adults, children and seniors who simply cannot make ends meet and are forced to go without food for several meals, or even days.

They are calling for supporters to help by buying a family a meal for the festive season. The amount given us being matched by Unilever, meaning you can give those in need, two meals for the price of one. Find out more and give your support here

Action Against Hunger

Among many important projects, the Central African Republic is a key project for the charity. The Action Against Hunger team told Foodservice Consultant about the work they are doing there:

While the world’s attention is focused on the devastating crises in Syria and the Philippines, another emergency is unfolding unnoticed in one of the poorest countries worldwide, the Central African Republic. Located in the heart of Africa, many people do not even know it exists. And yet over a third of its population does not know what tomorrow may bring.

The situation came to a head earlier this year, when the government was overthrown. Since then thousands of people already living on the brink of survival are facing even more challenges. The situation is having dire consequences with children bearing the brunt of the violence:  the number of children with life-threatening malnutrition admitted to the health facilities supported by Action Against Hunger has already doubled compared to last year.

Our teams are supporting health centres and treating malnourished children as well as providing families with food vouchers, helping farmers and supporting local markets. Our goal is to restore self-sufficiency for all families affected by the crisis, despite the ongoing challenges. We believe that all children around the world should have access to the nutrition they need to develop.

So we’re calling on all of you to get involved. From runs to bike rides, from pub quizzes to bake sales, we can help you find the best way to fundraise for us. To find out more, visit www.actionagainsthunger.org.uk  or email lovefoodgivefood@actionagainsthunger.og.uk.

British Red Cross

The refugee crisis in Syria is the worst in twenty years, according to the United Nations, and shows no sign of abating. Because of its impartiality, the Red Cross is in a good position to reach people in desperate need. Working in incredibly perilous conditions, volunteers and staff with the Red Cross and Red Crescent are travelling to dangerous areas to deliver food and supplies to two million refugees, of which one million are children.

Donating just £32 could buy two kitchen sets, to allow a families to cook for themselves, and £96 will provide three precious food parcels for displaced people. Find out more about the work the Red Cross does in Syria and in other crucial projects here

The Hunger Project

This charity, whose mantra is to “empower women and men to end their own hunger”, works across 11 countries in Africa, South Asia and Latin America to provide programmes that create a lasting change. One such project provides training, savings and credit to food farmers in Africa, of which 75% are women.

Your donations are matched by a group of investors, meaning twice as much can go towards the organisation’s valuable work. Find out more at thp.org 

Heifer International

A five-year project in Armenia being run by the World Bank and Heifer International, an organisation that aims to teach self-reliance among struggling communities, is seeking to improve small-scale agriculture. One of many projects run by Heifer, the scheme is supporting 55 communities and 24,000 families. The country has been badly hit by recession and the project will help improve roads to remote pastures, provide equipment for rural farmers, watering points and nutrition for livestock.

Heifer runs projects in 30 countries around the world, working to increase the productivity of small farms and help those who run them see a clear path out of poverty. Help Heifer’s work to end poverty and hunger and donate here.

Helen Roxburgh

 

Combining an ambition to manufacture the world’s best warewashing equipment, with a drive to lower energy usage and environmental impact, Wexiödisk has taken the UK foodservice market by storm in the past year. Now to top off a fantastic 12 months for the Scandinavian company since the UK launch, Wexiödisk has been awarded the FCSI ‘Sustainable Catering Equipment Award 2013’ for the innovative, sustainable, WD-PRM6 Pre-Rinse Machine.

The award-winning Wexiödisk WD-PRM6 was designed and developed to replace the more traditional pre-wash hand shower which often precedes most commercial dishwasher installations.

As a consumer of a significant amount of water, especially when left on during service, as is often the case, traditional hand showers can cost the operate substantial amounts of fresh water and heating energy. In comparison, the Wexiödisk WD-PRM6 utilises the warm, chemically enriched waste water from the adjacent warewasher to effectively pre-rinse the plates, prior to entering the dishwasher.

In addition to the visible reduction in energy usage, the WD-PRM6 is able to reduce man hours, improve efficiency and enhance the working environment with less splashed water on the surfaces and the floor around the wash-up area. For an average establishment which uses a typical hand shower for a 30 second wash per basket, based on 150 baskets a day – the equivalent to 55,000 baskets a year, the savings achieved by the WD-PRM6 are truly remarkable:

  • Up to 200,000 litres of water per year
  • Up to 40% reduction on cleaning chemicals per year
  • Up to 8,000kw of electricity per year
  • Up to 4,200kg of CO2 per year
  • Up to 90 man hours per year.

The FCSI Sustainable Product Award, presented at the CESA Conference in association with the FCSI and BHA at the Savill Court Hotel & Spa in Windsor, saw Wexiödisk follow in the footsteps of a number of other leading manufacturers to scoop the top spot for the pre-rinse machine at this year’s award.

UK & Ireland Country Manager for Wexiödisk, Simon Frost, explained his delight having taking the top spot:

“To be recognised in an award such as this is a fantastic achievement for all involved in the company. With a heritage built on the very best in manufacturing, intrinsically combined with sustainability and the environment, Wexiödisk has developed one of the most advanced product ranges on the market. The Wexiödisk WD-PRM6 has been designed to not only save caterers on their energy usage but also reduce chemical intake, man hours and provide significantly enhanced results, time and time again.”

For more information on the Wexiödisk WD-PRM6 and to understand the significant savings available to caterers, please call 0845 643 0421 or visit www.wexiodiskuk.co.uk

 

Foodservice Consultant is not responsible for the content of company product announcements

 

Winterhalter undercounter models deliver the best results, whether washing heavily-soiled oily dishes or delicate glassware.

Winterhalter has created a range of adaptable warewashers that can change with the business’s needs. The clever UC Series of undercounter warewashers can be configured to give the best results depending on the type and level of soiling on the dishes, saving time, resources and energy without compromising on cleanliness.

Each UC dishwasher can be set up, by the operator, to clean off different types of food. For example, Asian restaurants often have heavily sauced, oil-based dishes, such as curries, and drier foods such as rice based dishes. The ideal washing parameters for each are totally different. If a UC is loaded with mainly sauce-covered dishes, the operator can adjust it for best results, just by touching the icon on the control panel touchscreen.

“The whole point of this ‘adaptability’ is to give the best possible results, whatever type of food is on the menu,” explains Paul Crowley.

The UC’s fourfold wash water filtration system with clouding sensor ensures that all dirt particles get filtered out, even rice and lentils. The wash water is kept constantly clean, so there is no need to change it during the working day, saving water and energy.

The UC machines can even be converted from dishwashers to glasswashers, and back again, as required.

“Turning a dishwasher into a glasswasher requires an engineer to visit the site, but the process is inexpensive, simple and quick,” adds Paul.

Available in four sizes, from small to extra large, rack sizes for the UC Series range from 400x400mm to 500x540mm, depending on the model. On short programmes (for lightly soiled items) the glasswasher can handle up to 77 racks per hour, the dishwashers up to 65. The capacities on standard washing programmes are 48 and 40 respectively.

The UC Series is available from Winterhalter dealers across the UK and Ireland.

Foodservice Consultant is not responsible for the content of company product announcements

Renowned for developing and manufacturing a range of commercial blast chillers and shock freezers that combine the latest in technological developments with the utmost in quality, Irinox has long been seen as one of the market leaders in the sector. Now, in an exciting new development to the company’s MultiFresh® range, Irinox has developed the MyA, a multi-functional, touch-sensitive user interface, fitted as standard to all units.

Combining a bright, 7” display, with simple to use, intuitive icons, operators are able to quickly and efficiently access the numerous functions on the extensive MultiFresh® menu. With options to alter the duration, temperature and levels of air circulation, the MyA allows the operator to select the optimum cycle for each food type.

With the option to blast chill or shock freeze over 90 different food types, the innovative user-interface takes into account the consistency and nutritional values of individual pre-set items before undertaking the optimum cooling cycle to accommodate this. Take a fillet of beef or a fresh piece of fish for example; both are items which require a much more delicate freezing process to maintain their structure than say a tub of delicious homemade ice cream, which often requires shock freezing over a short period, to prevent the formation of ice crystals. Using Hyblade® evaporators and innovative fans, the range can chill or freeze food, even when piping hot in the shortest possible time.

In addition to the chilling and freezing capabilities of the series, appliances are also fitted with the latest sanitisation system for enhanced hygiene. Sanigen® is the Irinox patented system that is capable of sanitising every part of the chamber, including difficult to clean areas such as the evaporator. The system, which has been stringently tested, guarantees to kill 99.5% of both airborne and surface bacteria, while also acting to eliminate unpleasant odours that can occur through continued use.

Michael Eyre, Product Director of Jestic Foodservice Limited, explains how the new MyA user-interface can assist operators throughout the industry:

“In the past, blast chilling and shock freezing was often associated with specialist produce and high-end establishments, however with the developments in technology and introduction of more varied cooking techniques, the humble blast chiller is becoming common place in many kitchens. The introduction of the MyA control panel to the Irinox MultiFresh® range now allows any operator in the kitchen to effectively use features of the appliance, in doing so maintaining the best conditions for food being stored in a chilled or frozen state.”

The Irinox MultiFresh® range contains a total of 19 separate appliances of varying sizes, offering a customised solution to the individual establishment. From smaller, countertop and undercounter models, through to large-scale walk-in and pass-through appliances, the Irinox MultiFresh® range has something to suit all.

For more information on the Irinox MultiFresh® Range or to find out about the other commercial products supplied by Jestic Foodservice Limited, please visit www.jestic.co.uk or call 01892 831 960.

If you’ve listened to the radio, or watched music videos this past summer, you’ve probably heard the insanely popular song Blurred Lines. True to its title the song pretty much blurs everything – from the meaning of its lyrics to the musical genre in which it belongs.

But the last few months haven’t just been about blurring musical lines. The lines of demarcation within the restaurant industry and its subsets are becoming increasingly blurry as well. Recently, I’ve observed a significant identity shift as casual dining, fast casual dining and quick service restaurants all attempt to mimic elements of the others. However, as these lines blur, new opportunities for customer engagement are rapidly coming into focus.

Eat, Drink and be Merry: Loyalty Served Fresh

Restaurants such as KFC, once considered quick service, are expanding into fast casual territory with the launch of its KFC eleven pilot program, which recently opened its flagship restaurant in Louisville, Kentucky. It offers vastly different options including flatbreads, salads and rice bowls with creative names like “Caribbean Tango” and “Southwestern Baja” – a dramatic departure from a menu that’s been largely unchanged for over 80 years. While the experiment is still in its infancy, early reviews are positive with at least one Louisville.com writer calling for a nationwide rollout, “KFC Eleven would make a great fit for downtown and urban areas.”

Casual dining restaurants are also adding elements of speed to their customer experience. Red Robin Gourmet Burgers Inc., for instance, is undergoing significant rebranding with new menu choices including appetizers, desserts and upgraded cocktails at multiple price points. It’s also changing its service model, presumably for a faster and better customer experience. The chain is simultaneously rolling out smaller, fast casual-sized 4,000 square-foot restaurants and a spinoff experiment called Red Robin Burger Works, a competitor to establishments such as Five Guys. Reinforcing its commitment to rebranding, the chain recently announced the creation of a new position, vice president of brand marketing – tapping former Applebee’s executive John Schaufelberger for the job.

Digesting Market Realities

A still-sluggish economy is one reason for the shifting identities, but some of the challenges lie with casual restaurants themselves. A recent study by Market Force Information finds a lack of new restaurant openings has undercut customer interest. It also found that few marketing outlets are inspiring diners to try something new – online reviews and ads only motivated 5% of survey respondents.

However, 56% of responders were inspired by recommendations from friends and family as well as by promotions and coupons. These engagement methods can easily be improved and adapted to the digital space. Thus, restaurants of all types have an opportunity to turn Market Force Information’s less optimistic numbers on their heads.

Room for Dessert and the Sweet Side of Social Media

Putting the differences between casual and fast casual dining aside, the point is clear: diners crave genuine engagement as well as timely and relevant offers – and social media is a great way to satisfy that craving. The Restaurant Social Media Index, compiled by Digital CoCo, finds that usage of Foursquare, Instagram and Vine is growing among fast casual and QSRs – led by Chipotle, Starbucks, Firehouse Subs, Wendy’s and Shake Shack.

Facebook and Twitter, meanwhile, have been major components of Hooters’  rebranding, which aims to broaden the restaurant’s female customer base as it marks its 30th anniversary. Launched earlier this year, the “Step into Awesome” campaign includes posts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and other channels, with customers encouraged to share their “awesome experiences.” In less than a month, over 10,000 photos were posted to the hashtag #StepIntoAwesome.

Efforts like this make clear that traditional customer rewards programs are just the beginning of successful loyalty marketing – expanded menus, improved ambiance and creative social media are equally important. Ultimately, customers care far more about service, prices and their overall experiences than they do about restaurants’ names and blurred-line subcategories.

So eat up and enjoy. And remember that restaurant loyalty is a dish that can be served hot or cold and that, ideally, preserves well. Bon appétit.

 

Pamela Sullins is director of client services, Kobie Marketing