Given the option to serve products that are considered fresh, high quality, and superior in taste—products that consumers crave and feel a connection to—operators generally don’t have to think twice. That’s why many limited-service brands are jumping on board with the local-foods trend, opting to purchase many of their ingredients straight from the source, whether it’s a cheese maker 100 miles away or a strawberry producer right down the street.
In the last several years, as consumers have become savvier and more educated about the food they eat, words like fresh, local, and artisanal have become the norm in the foodservice industry.
But with many companies throwing these terms around seemingly at will to try to differentiate their brand and resonate with customers, definitions have been grayed and misconceptions have been made. After all, many of these words still go undefined by regulatory bodies (unlike organic, which is regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)).
Chipotle’s commitment to organic cotton might not be apparent to diners, but every employee wears the evidence—literally.
One hundred percent of Chipotle’s employees wear uniforms from Loomstate, a company dedicated to offering sustainable, organic, and quality clothing. The initiative kicked off in 2010, and the restaurant recently began offering a public line of Chipotle-branded, 100 percent organic cotton Loomstate apparel through its Web store.
AllergyEats, the leading guide to allergy-friendly restaurants nationwide, has just revealed the most accommodating restaurant chains, based on feedback from the food allergy community. Restaurants were rated solely on how well they've accommodated food-allergic diners, and not on any other factors, such as ambiance or food quality.
Chipotle Mexican Grill plans to test a new vegetarian menu item called “Sofritas” in seven San Francisco Bay Area restaurants beginning Tuesday, February 12.
Sofritas, shredded tofu braised with chipotle chilis, roasted poblanos, and a blend of aromatic spices, is made with organic, non-GMO tofu from Oakland’s Hodo Soy.
Chipotle expects Sofritas to appeal to vegetarian and vegan customers, as well as those who are looking for an exciting new taste.
Chipotle Mexican Grill will offer customers a new way to enjoy their food with the launch of its catering service, beginning in Colorado on January 21. Chipotle catering allows groups of 20 to 200 to customize their own individual meal the same way they do at Chipotle restaurants. The company will add catering to all of its markets in the coming months.
Pro football fans typically celebrate the sport’s biggest game of the year with food—lots of food—making it the second-largest eating occasion of the year.
This year, fans who choose Chipotle for their big game party can get just a little more to eat, for free. Simply purchase six or more “Burritos by the Box” on Sunday, February 3, and Chipotle will give you a free burrito, bowl, salad, or order of tacos when you bring back the receipt from your order to any Chipotle by February 28, 2013.
Our athletes went to the Olympics, our science went to Mars, and our people went to the polls. But what of the restaurant industry in 2012? These dozen items from the year had the biggest impact on the foodservice landscape and shaped the industry for a potentially game-changing 2013.
An Economy in Flux
The economic recovery isn’t lighting a fire under anyone’s feet, but the economy did at least improve, albeit slightly.
In this last Brand New Perspectives of 2012, I’m breaking from my usual Q&A format to recap some of the most important brand developments in fast food this past year.
Despite the sluggish economy and uncertainty that typically accompanies election years, companies in our industry chose to make some of their boldest moves in 2012, and some exciting new chains took the stage. Here are my picks for the seven biggest brand stories of the year.
Q: Could you give me some insight on the outlook of the barbecue industry? Is the industry stable? Is this a good time to invest in barbecue?