Archive for September, 2011

Mediterranean Cuisine Gaining Favor

Monday, September 26th, 2011

Mediterranean cuisine is more prevalent on menus across numerous foodservice segments, as customers become interested in ethnic dishes, more healthful cuisine and vegetarian foods, a report from market research firm Technomic Inc. finds.

“The increase in menu incidence we have tracked shows that these items are not just being added to Mediterranean concepts, but to the menus of national chains within virtually all segments and categories,” said Mary Chapman, director of Chicago-based Technomic.

“We expect this to continue as awareness of the cuisine increases and as the trends feeding the growth continue to develop,” she said.

The report found that:

• Six in 10 consumers surveyed said they would likely order a menu offering that featured Mediterranean ingredients and flavors.

• Mediterranean chain sales at restaurants that feature Greek, Spanish and Middle Eastern foods increased 1.7 percent to $362 million in 2010 from 2009. Twenty leading Mediterranean chains considered in the report finished 2010 with 430 total units, up from 423 in 2009.

• Restaurants are using more Mediterranean food items, such as falafel, hummus, chickpeas and Greek yogurt. Pita sandwiches and Greek entrée salads are appearing more frequently on menus.

• Mediterranean dishes include fish, herbs, vegetables and olive oil — ingredients consumers consider healthful. “Consumers seeking better-for-you fare also appreciate the cuisine’s simple preparations, use of fresh ingredients and cooking methods that instill flavor without adding fats,” Technomic said in a release.

Nick Vojnovic, a partner in the quick-service Greek concept Little Greek said he thinks Mediterranean cuisine “is getting ready to explode.”

“People get burned out on the burrito, burger, pizza deal,” he said. “We have high-quality food that is both healthy and delicious.”

Vojnovic, who just opened a fifth Little Greek restaurant, is building three others and has five franchise agreements, he said.

Chapman of Technomic said consumers are seeking “better-for-you items that don’t scream it’s better for you.”

Mediterranean cuisine includes “vegetables, olive oils and highly seasoned rather than fat-laden flavoring. It’s a better-for-you dish without fat-free low-calorie,” Chapman said. “It’s about what it is and not what it’s not.”

Read more: http://www.nrn.com/article/mediterranean-cuisine-gaining-favor?ad=news#ixzz1Z52YVWPO

Cloudy Future

Monday, September 26th, 2011

Just when consumers were feeling a little sunnier about their financial future, the economic skies began to cloud up once more. 


Impacted by high gas and food prices as well as lackluster job growth, the American consumer has lost its sense of optimism again, which is dragging down restaurant visits and spending, say officials at global market research firm The NPD Group
.

According to Port Washington, N.Y.-based NPD, after eight quarters of decline, restaurant-industry traffic rose slightly at the end of 2010 and into early 2011, but declined again by nearly 0.5 percent in the quarter ended in May.


“The industry was starting to perk up, then spring hit,” said NPD analyst Bonnie Riggs. “Consumers aren’t thinking it’s going to get better anytime soon.”


While some consumers aren’t feeling the pain, the vast majority have been hurt in one way or another by the economic downturn, and they don’t expect things to let up anytime soon. According to a recent NPD report, “The Changing Consumer Mindset,” consumers are very worried about the years ahead, and more than three-quarters of adults have attitudes that result in cautious and controlled spending behaviors. 


Consumers are aware that the jobs recovery is going to be a slow process. Assuming job growth will continue at its current rate, it will take five years for full job recovery, Riggs noted.


When NPD asked consumers, “How long will it take for you/your family to recover from this recession?” 40 percent said it would take three to five years. Another 23 percent said it would take more than six years. 


“If you were to take that same poll today, it’s going to be even longer,” Riggs said. “There’s not going to be any let-up in cautious, controlled spending.”


Two types of spenders


When it comes to attitudes about social issues and concerns, NPD found that consumers fall into two camps: controlled spenders and optimists. 


Thirty-six percent of controlled spenders believe the economy will get worse before it gets better, compared with just 4 percent of optimists. Seventeen percent of controlled spenders feel we have high inflation, while just 7 percent of optimists felt the same. Sixty-two percent of optimists are upbeat about the future, and 30 percent of optimists believe that the president will turn things around. 


Thirty-three percent of controlled spenders are worried about having enough money when they retire, compared with just 9 percent of optimists. 


While they differ on the outlook for the future, when it comes to spending, both camps are concerned, NPD found. Sixty-two percent of controlled spenders and 21 percent of optimists said they are continuing to watch how they spend money on most or all of their purchases. In addition, optimists and controlled spenders are nearly equal in holding back when they visit restaurants. According to the report, 27 percent of controlled spenders and 21 percent of optimists said they are watching what they spend when they eat out.


With pressure on their spending ability mounting and prospects for job recovery remaining slim, consumers lately have been less inclined to either use deal offers or to recognize those deals as available to provide savings, NPD said. In the quarter ended in May, visits to a restaurant on a deal declined for the third quarter in a row, while non-deal visits picked up. 


“Consumers either stopped buying deals, or consumers saw deals as being standard, so they didn’t consider them a deal,” Riggs said. “Operators again are going to have to pull out all the stops. [They’re] going to have to do a lot to keep [consumers] coming in.”


Despite the downturn, several operators said their restaurants are experiencing positive traffic and/or sales and shared the tactics that are working for them.


“People are still coming in, but they are definitely aware. … There’s a lot of sharing-plate stuff going on,” said Jon Schlegel, owner of Denver-based Snooze, an A.M. Eatery. “They don’t have a lot of confidence that they’ll be able to come back in six months.”


Keeping prices steady


For Schlegel, keeping customers coming back is as much about what he isn’t doing as what he is. 


“The biggest thing we’re doing is not raising prices,” Schlegel said.


Despite rising coffee and food prices and proposed state legislation that would increase his health care costs for Denver-based stores, Schlegel has not passed on the increased costs to his customers. That said, Schlegel adds that price isn’t everything.


“It’s got to be more than the food. It has to be an experience,” Schlegel said.


The growing number of cost-conscious consumers actually has helped grow sales for Philly Pretzel Factory, which saw same-store sales grow 11 percent last year and nearly 8 percent so far this year.


“The recession has not impacted us,” said Marty Ferrill, vice president of operations. “We’re a value proposition every day.”


Ferrill said the company continues to find ways to push its value proposition. It has not raised prices, even though wheat prices have been particularly volatile. In addition, for the month of September, the pretzel chain has launched its Be the Hero campaign featuring 20 pretzels for just $5. 


Built-in value


At Trattoria No. 10, a fine-dining Italian restaurant in Chicago, diners are still coming in, but they’re spending conservatively and taking doggie bags.


“What I am seeing/hearing from people that visit our restaurant is that there’s not so much a sense
of despair so much as resignation,” owner Dan Rosenthal said. 


To keep the restaurant full, Rosenthal said he is mostly doing what he always does — offering great food and service at a value. But rather than discounting, Rosenthal said for the next 18 to 24 months he’s focusing on promotional events, such as a tomato festival, designed to boost interest and create a sense of value.


“Good restaurants have the value built in,” Rosenthal said.


Despite having a “good year” at his four Silicon Valley, Calif.-based Pacific Catch Fresh Fish Grills, restaurateur and food consultant Aaron Noveshen continues to find ways to better connect with his customers.


“It’s not so much about money,” Noveshen said. “It’s about reinforcing your brand attributes. How you differentiate at this time is really important.”


Among the recent changes at Pacific Catch are a re-engineering of the menu — including adding sustainably farmed shrimp, lowering the prices of popular entrées and adding more appetizer choices — as well as making tabletop tweaks like getting new dishware and removing condiments from the tables.


“You can’t sit back, good economy or bad,” Noveshen said. “If you’re not doing something, the guy next door is.”

Read more: http://www.nrn.com/article/cloudy-future?ad=business#ixzz1Z51gWS7m

Industry Associations Address Health Care Reform

Monday, September 19th, 2011

The National Restaurant Association and the International Franchise Association renewed their support this week for lawmakers in Washington, D.C., who are seeking to repeal the employer mandate provision in the new federal health care law.

The mandate requires that businesses with more than 50 full-time-equivalent employees offer full-time workers affordable healthcare coverage by 2014 or pay a penalty of $2,000 per employee.

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, introduced The American Job Protection Act, or S. 20, in an effort to repeal the employer mandate in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

An equivalent measure, H.R. 1744, was introduced into the House earlier by Reps. Charles Boustany, R-La., Pat Tiberi, R-Ohio, and John Barrow, D-Ga.

“We are an industry with a high percentage of young, mobile, part-time workers, as well as an industry comprised mostly of small businesses,” Scott DeFife, Executive Vice President of Policy and Government Affairs for the National Restaurant Association said in a statement. “These businesses will be negatively impacted, and jobs lost, if the employer mandate is not repealed or changed.

“Because of the make-up of the workforce, the industry has unique challenges in finding health care solutions that are affordable for workers and employers alike,” he said. “We are working to address those issues, but are equally concerned about the ability to navigate the high costs, regulatory complexity and unanswered questions surrounding the new health care law.”

“Repeal of this job-killing provision is essential if small business job creators are to drive the growth of a stagnant economy and put millions of unemployed Americans back to work,” said IFA president and chief executive Steve Caldeira in a statement.

A study by the Hudson Institute for the IFA said 3.2 million full-time employees working at thousands of franchised businesses will be at risk of losing their jobs unless significant changes are made to the health care law.

President Barack Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act into law in March 2010.

Read more: http://www.nrn.com/article/industry-associations-address-health-care-reform?ad=news#ixzz1YPl8QrbP

Study: Deal Sites Help Restaurants Draw New Customers

Monday, September 19th, 2011

A study of restaurant consumers who use group or daily-deal websites, released last week by Rice University and Cornell University researchers, indicates that while deep discount offers may cause sales cannibalization, they also bring in new guests with positive attributes.

The study, “Customer Response to Restaurant Daily Deals,” by professors Utpal M. Dholakia of Rice and Sheryl E. Kimes of Cornell, stemmed from an August survey of 931 completed consumer responses. A quota sample was used that insured that about two-thirds of the sample had purchased a restaurant daily deal and one third had not, the authors said.

An affiliated report also released by Dholakia and Kimes last week indicated that the typically steep rate of discounting found at deal websites — 40 percent to 50 percent — may give away more than necessary to attract new guests or increase visit frequency among others.

“Based on our results, it seems daily deals help generate new customers who are satisfied with their experience, likely to return to the restaurant and likely to recommend it to their friends,” they wrote in the report. “We also found that some cannibalization of existing customers may be occurring, that daily deal users were not necessarily ‘cheap,’ were likely to tip on the full amount of the bill [before discount] and were no less loyal than non-users.”

The researchers also noted the potential of deal users to influence others.

“Market mavens are people who like to provide market price and shopping information to their friends,” they said. “Daily-deal users were significantly more likely to be a market maven than non-users.

“Daily-deal users tend to be more impulsive buyers, which indicates that there may be some opportunities for successful suggestive selling when they are in the restaurant,” they added.

The Rice–Cornell study comes at a time when many restaurant companies are weighing the pros and cons of group or daily-deal sites, such as Groupon, LivingSocial, Restaurants.com and EverSave. The research touched on several points raised in such debates, which include that while deal sites may bring in traffic and increase restaurant trial, they may also steal sales from existing customers, crowd out full-price paying guests, harm margins or tarnish the overall reputation of a restaurant offering a deal.

Confirming that deal sites can bring in new guests, while representing a possible cause of sales cannibalization, the researchers said 22 percent of the respondents who redeemed a deal were new to the establishment, 34 percent were infrequent customers and 44 percent were frequent patrons.

Dholakia and Kimes found that deal users are more likely than non-users to dine out, with about 54.7 percent of the discount seekers using a restaurant for lunch or dinner at least once a week, versus 34.9 percent of the non-users. Frequent diners purchased significantly more deals, they said.

Other findings included:

• In terms of awareness among surveyed consumers, Groupon led a list of 11 deal sites, with recognition among 92 percent of deal-using respondents, followed by Restaurants.com, 82.7 percent; Living Social, 79.5 percent; and TravelZoo, 54.1 percent. Gilt City, OpenTable, BuyWithMe, Blackboard Eats, Daily Candy, ScoutMob and EverSave were recognized by less than half of the respondents.

• Groupon was the most frequently used deal site, having garnered a purchase from 79.8 percent of deal-seeking respondents, followed by TravelZoo, 57.5 percent; and Restaurants.com, 50.5 percent.

• In a “heart share” analysis by the authors that factored input about favorites and frequency of use, Groupon again led the pack, with a score of 42, followed by Restaurants.com, 16.9; LivingSocial, 7.4; OpenTable, 6.3; and EverSave, 5.4.

• Respondents using deals reported that they spent and ordered about the same as they did without the discount. Frequent customers of a restaurant were significantly more likely to spend more than usual when using a deal than infrequent customers or new customers, the researchers said.

• There was no significant difference in relational orientation, or loyalty to a business that treats them well, between deal users and non-users.

• The researchers said that as a whole, deal users did not feel as if they were treated as “second-class” customers when they redeemed deals. They also indicated that the offer of discount through a deal site did not cause them to think less of a restaurant.

Among consumers who did not use deal sites, the most frequent reason cited was that they did not know about them, a situation acknowledged by 46 percent of those respondents. About 28 percent of such respondents said they had not thought of using such sites, and others indicated that such deals were not available in their areas, Dholakia and Kimes said.

Read more: http://www.nrn.com/article/study-deal-sites-help-restaurants-draw-new-customers?page=0,1&ad=business#ixzz1YPkcNPWf

China: A Look at Strategies From McDonald’s, Yum! Brands

Monday, September 12th, 2011

Smashburger is planning to expand into the Middle East, the company said Wednesday, marking the fast-casual burger brand’s first step toward international growth.

Company officials said they also are actively seeking franchisees to bring the brand to Canada and the United Kingdom.

In agreements announced Wednesday, Smashburger said franchisees will open multiple units in Kuwait, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia over the next few years.

The Denver-based company has partnered with Georgetown Advisors to open six Smashburger locations in Kuwait and three in Bahrain.

Georgetown Advisors is a boutique commercial development firm based in Bahrain. Smashburger will be the firm’s first and only burger brand in its portfolio.

In Saudi Arabia, Al Musbah Group plans to open eight airport locations of Smashburger. The group operates several Western brands, including Sbarro, Cinnabon, Carvel and Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen.

Dave Prokupek, chair and chief executive of Smashburger, said domestic expansion would continue. The 118-unit chain is growing aggressively in the United States, with the goal of reaching 500 locations within the next few years.

“Since we opened the door to our first Smashburger location in 2007, we were confident that our contemporary concept and premium product would have global demand and relevance in a wide variety of countries and cultures,” Prokupek said in a statement.

“Kuwait, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia provide vibrant markets with strong appetites for restaurant concepts that have proven successful in the United States,” he added.

Smashburger, which is owned by Denver-based private equity firm Consumer Capital Partners, joins a number of U.S. restaurant brands expanding in the Middle East.

Earlier this year, IHOP announced its first move outside North America, with plans to open 40 restaurants in Middle Eastern countries.

Others moving into the region include Elevation Burger, Top That! Pizza, The Cheesecake Factory, Fatburger, Chili’s Grill & Bar, Ponderosa and Dixie Cream Donut Co.

Read more: http://www.nrn.com/article/smashburger-expands-middle-east?ad=growth-concepts#ixzz1XlCKgZEW

Millennial Generation’s Diversity Will Shape Foodservice

Monday, September 12th, 2011

The Millennial generation — 52 million people between the ages of 18 and 29, many of whom love to eat out — continues to be a crucial demographic for the restaurant industry to serve.

But according to The NPD Group’s “Reaching the Millennial Generation” report, immigration will cause this group to grow and become even more diverse in the next 10 years, necessitating greater menu variety at restaurants than ever before. Operators also need to think more about new dayparts to cater to Millennials, the market research firm found, as those consumers have a greater tendency to snack between meals than guests from other generations.

Millennials, sometimes referred to as “Generation Y,” are more diverse than previous generations. Only 61 percent of Millennials are white, compared with 71 percent for adults 30 and older. Among Millennials, 14 percent are black, compared with 11 percent for older adults, while 19 percent are Hispanic, compared with 12 percent of older Americans.

Nearly half, or 47 percent, of the 1,933 Millennials surveyed were full-time students, while 9 percent were part-time students. Forty-four percent of respondents were not in school. Forty-four percent of Millennials did not work, 30 percent worked at least 35 hours per week, and 32 percent worked less than 35 hours per week.

“Millennials are moving into their heavy foodservice-using years, and this is the time to reach them to build their loyalty,” Riggs said. “In reaching out to them, it’s important to understand that Millennials are not a one-size-fits-all generation, and their needs and wants are varied.”

Millennials accounted for 13 billion of 59 billion restaurant visits in 2010; they collectively spent $73 billion. The majority of those consumers’ activity was at commercial foodservice establishments, which accounted for 10.2 billion visits and $63.7 billion in sales, compared with 2.7 billion visits and $9.6 billion in sales at noncommercial foodservice outlets.

In the report, NPD forecasts that Millennials will outnumber the baby boomer generation — which the Population Reference Bureau estimates at more than 70 million Americans — within the next decade.

“Millennials will overtake baby boomers as the most sought-after target for restaurateurs in the coming years,” said Bonnie Riggs, NPD restaurant analyst and report author. “In order to attract this generation, foodservice operators and manufacturers will need to understand both the similarities and differences among Millennials.”

As a group, Millennials reported that they spend more than half of their foodservice dollars on to-go or carryout foods. They also spend a higher percentage on snacks compared to other generations, leading to more sales among Millennials of items like ice cream, chicken nuggets and mini sandwiches.

Read more: http://www.nrn.com/article/millennial-generation%E2%80%99s-diversity-will-shape-foodservice?ad=news#ixzz1XlBLIgTn

Restaurants Pushed to Disclose the Presence of Meat

Tuesday, September 6th, 2011

Under pressure from consumers and lawsuits, restaurant chains are being pushed to disclose the presence of meat or meat-products, even in dishes not described as vegetarian or vegan.

Chains such as Chipotle Mexican Grill and Panda Express are looking at ways to better communicate that certain dishes that don’t appear to contain meat – beans, rice and vegetables, for example – either include meat as a seasoning or may have been cooked in equipment in which meat was also cooked.

Other chains, such as the Souplantations/Sweet Tomatoes chain, are posting signs throughout restaurants specifically indicating which items are vegetarian or vegan, and which are not.

The spotlight was on Chipotle recently after a Maxim senior editor Seth Porges learned that the fast-casual chain cooks its pinto beans with a small amount of bacon. The chain’s black beans are vegetarian, which is indicated on the menu.

After Porges, who reportedly said he avoids pork for religious and cultural reasons, expressed outrage in a series of Tweets, Chipotle officials responded by saying the menu boards would be redesigned to indicate the beans are made with bacon.

Chris Arnold, Chipotle’s communications director, said the chain has always made its pinto beans with bacon and they have never been described as being vegetarian.

“Our black beans are vegetarian and are described that way on our menus and our website,” he said. “Our website clearly and accurately describes the pinto beans as being made with bacon.”

Still, over the next several months, the chain will be rolling out new menu boards on which the bacon-flavored beans will be disclosed, he said.

The issue has also resulted in a lawsuit filed by customer Kevin Shenkman. Filed on Aug. 19 in Los Angeles Superior Court, Shenkman charges false and deceptive business practices and representations, arguing that Chipotle mislead the public into believing its pinto beans were vegetarian.

Shenkman, who describes himself as Jewish and a vegetarian, has reportedly also sued Panda Express for its alleged use of meat-based flavorings in rice.

Panda Express spokeswoman Thien Ho, however, said the rice and vegetable dishes do not contain meat products.

However, the chain does not describe such dishes as vegetarian because they and other entrees that may appear meat-free are “prepared and cooked in the same kitchen and prep areas where meat and meat broth are present and being used,” which could be a problem for some who don’t eat meat.

In an Orange County location of Panda Express, for example, a sign is posted warning customers that the rice and vegetables are not vegetarian.

Ho said the sign is an “internal training aid developed to assist our associates with informing guests who ask about potential vegetarian options.”

Though these cases have arisen recently, the controversy is not new.

McDonald’s was sued in 2001 by Hindus concerned about the use of beef seasoning on French fries.

On its website, McDonald’s now discloses the presence of “natural beef seasoning” on fries, though it is not disclosed on menu boards, notes Lindsay Rajt, associate director of campaigns for animal-welfare advocacy group PETA.

“It’s becoming an increasing concern. It’s a matter of consumer trust,” she said. “I think every consumer deserves to know what they’re eating. If a restaurant says something has a natural flavor, we need to know if it’s meat based.”

Tracy Marks, public relations specialist for Garden Fresh Restaurant Corp., parent company to San Diego-based Souplantation and Sweet Tomatoes, agrees, saying “it’s a conscious decision all restaurants should make.”

Souplantation units, which are called Sweet Tomatoes outside California, have signs posted throughout the buffet-style units indicating whether dishes that may appear meat free, such as soups or breads, are either vegetarian or non-vegetarian.

Marks said the cream of mushroom soup, for example, one of the most popular, is clearly noted as non-vegetarian because it is made with chicken broth.

The restaurants strive to always have at least two vegetarian soups, as well as prepared salads for non-meat eaters.

“We’ve always done it because the question comes up so often,” she said.

Now vegan customers are asking for more bread options with no eggs or dairy. Marks said the chain is working on it.

“We’ve been testing some with potato starch, but we’re not quite there yet,” she said.

Read more: http://www.nrn.com/article/restaurants-pushed-disclose-presence-meat?page=0,1&ad=news#ixzz1XBoGCnoN

Foodservice Goes Back to School

Tuesday, September 6th, 2011

As students across America head back to school after Labor Day, they will notice new involvement in school food programs from professional chefs and the nation’s retail foodservice industry.

Restaurant companies are getting increasingly involved in school food programs as they observe childhood obesity rates climbing, an issue targeted by a growing number of organizations and programs championed by first lady Michelle Obama.

From the White House to local school boards, foodservice programs throughout the education system are welcoming various levels of support and operational expertise from retail restaurant chains and chefs alike:

Program: Wellness in the Schools

“We have that out-there, crazy idea that food is going to look different 20 years from now, and we can help shape that,” Nick Marsh, chief executive of the 14-unit Chop’t Creative Salad Co. LLC of New York, said. “There has to be some level of responsibility from those of us in the foodservice business.”

Chop’t was a founding sponsor of New York City-based Wellness in the Schools organization, which works to help evolve school food. The company donates $25,000 a year to the program and leads several educational sessions throughout the city’s school systems.

“So far the reward has been the satisfaction that we’re having an impact on the youngest set of future eaters in inner-city schools,” Marsh said. “We are having a significant impact on their understanding of food in the world.”

In addition to its support of Wellness in the Schools, Chop’t has adopted a public school in Harlem this year, donating recipes and equipment, said Lysa Chen, the company’s marketing manager. The chain also has developed “salad sandwich” recipes that become part of the lunch rotation at the school and created “Cafe Days” that seek to raise awareness of new menu items, careers in the culinary fields, menus and ingredients.

Program: Chefs Move to Schools

Recently, Sam Kass, assistant White House chef and senior policy adviser for healthy food initiatives, addressed the American Culinary Federation’s national convention, speaking about the Obama administration’s Let’s Move Campaign and Chefs Move to Schools program. The ACF is a partner in Chefs Move.

Kass said the first lady came to support the programs after seeing national figures that show one in three children in America is obese, that $150 billion is spent each year to treat obesity and its related conditions and that obesity is now the No. 1 disqualification for military service.

And with Technomic, the Chicago-based consultancy, estimating that the U.S. elementary/secondary school (kindergarten through 12th grade) system educates more than 56 million students with enrollment expected to exceed 60 million by the year 2017, the audience for nutrition education is massive.

Paul O’Toole, executive chef of the Deerfield Golf and Tennis Club in Newark, Del., hosts monthly Chefs Move to Schools demonstrations at UrbanPromise, a charter school in Wilmington, Del. He began his volunteer work in September 2010 as part of the ACF’s partnership with the White House’s Chefs Move to Schools program.

“I didn’t want to get involved with a lunch program that was established and already had some ‘lunch mothers,’” O’Toole said, explaining why he went with a small charter school. “It’s a center-city Christian-based school, and it doesn’t take any public money. Their spirit and attitude and passion to learn is overwhelming.”

Program: Healthy Kids Lunch Program

EVOS, the Tampa, Fla.-based fast-casual chain, is expanding its Healthy Kids Lunch Program in Florida and Georgia. The program, which debuted two years ago, offers affordable and healthful options to families with school children, and ordering of the lunchboxes can be done online through participating schools. EVOS said this week it expects to double the number of lunches served in the first three months of this school year. The restaurant chain operates four stores in the Tampa Bay market, two in metro Atlanta and one each in the Miami area and in Chapel Hill, N.C.

EVOS’s most popular school offerings include steak burgers and hotdogs made from naturally-raised beef; hormone-free, air-baked chicken strips and new vegetarian corn dogs. Each meal comes with an option of fruit/veggie item, snack item and bottle water.

“The success of the EVOS Healthy Kids Program illustrates just how much parents value the opportunity to play an active role in the nutritional well-being of their children not only at home but also when the school bell rings,” Jackie Macaluso, director of marketing at EVOS, said. “Good nutrition creates great students and is more important than ever in making sure they succeed.”

Chefs’ future in schools

The School Nutrition Association, a National Harbor, Md.-based organization that monitors school nutrition issues and represents more than 50,000 school nutrition professionals nationwide, conducted a survey that found:

– 10.1 percent of school nutrition directors said they have current chef partnerships underway.
– 7.1 percent of school nutrition directors said they are planning to implement a chef partnership.
– 28.9 percent of school nutrition directors expressed interest in forming a chef partnership.

Alan Snel contributed to this report.

Read more: http://www.nrn.com/article/foodservice-goes-back-school?page=0,1&ad=news#ixzz1XBmI6wk1