When it comes to preparing menu items in 2014, operators should keep it real, and make sure your guests know it's real. That's the word from research firm Technomic, which recently released its "10 Trends for 2014" list. Topping the list was customers' desire to get more information about what they're eating. "Consumers want assurances that what they're eating is real – in every sense of the word," the company states in an online press release. "Today's menus describe items far more thoroughly, listing not only the ingredients, but also where they came from and how they were prepared. Local sourcing is more important than ever, but beyond that is the idea of being true to place; if the restaurant positions itself as authentically Italian, for instance, it must use ingredients sourced from Italy and/or prepared using authentic Italian methods." The report also predicts that, thanks in part to rising beef costs, chicken and pork will enjoy increased popularity next year, along with lamb and game meats (such as duck and bison). Starches will make a big comeback, too, while creamy, cheesy, high-fat dishes will be all the rage – who needs washboard abs anyway?
Pizzerias may catch a break from menu labeling laws with the Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act of 2013 (S.1756), a much-needed bill in the U.S. Senate that would amend current menu labeling requirements as they relate to pizzerias. Modifications to the current law would allow pizzerias to label their fare by individual serving, provide online displays of calorie counts (instead of in-store menu boards) and more.
There's nothing like a clever – and timely – parody of a pop cultural moment to grab consumers' attention. No one knows that better than the folks at Hungry Howie's, who quickly created a video last week that was inspired by Volvo's "epic split" spot and posted it on their social media outlets, earning kudos and lots of "likes" from customers. The original Volvo ad, which has garnered more than 50 million views on Youtube, features actor Jean Claude Van Damme standing between two Volvo trucks as they slowly move apart, with the famously fit Van Damme executing a perfect split, straddling the empty space between the two vehicles. With help from ad agency DBA Worldwide, Hungry Howie's created its own "epic split" using an onion, a hunk of parmesan cheese, a couple of toy cars and two fingers, all to promote the chain's specialty Onion Parmesan pizza crust. "The video took about an hour to shoot and was edited and ready for upload within a day," says Stephen Killar, senior art director at DBA Worldwide. A five-man crew created and executed the concept, using a single camera, Killar adds. "An independent restaurant would do very well to utilize a similar strategy for engaging consumers on social media with relevant pop culture integration."
Pizza Without Borders
Chinese Elite Love Stinky Fruit Pizza
We all know that the Chinese have some peculiar tastes. Coagulated duck blood soup and aborted baby chickens were among the most revered dishes PMQ's Missy Green was served in China during an exchange program visit a few years ago. Shanghai's latest trendy – and arguably gross – food is pizza with dollops of durian, a fruit described by the Phuket Gazette as having "an ineffable flavor … likened to roasted almonds, rotten onions, old gym socks and even turpentine."
Bargains were easy to find on Black Friday, but Blaze Pizza in Novi, Michigan, offered a deal that no one could beat: free custom-made pizzas from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. A new location of the popular fast-casual chain opened in Novi on Tuesday, November 26, and, to build interest and drive traffic, marketing director Darla Bowen put out the word via a local radio station that the store would give away free pies on Black Friday with no strings attached. "You don't have to buy anything," she said. "You don't have to share it. It's not a slice … you come in, you create your pizza, and it's completely free." There was no limit on the toppings, and the pies were served up in three minutes flat. Bowen said her goal was to beat the record of the biggest Blaze store opening – 1,058 pizzas served in a single day.