Long ago, a shepherd riding across the desert with milk stored in a vessel made of an animal stomach, may have discovered cheesemaking. Enzymes from the stomach, along with heat, would have converted the milk into cheese. “I can’t imagine [it] was delicious, and that [illustrates] the central advancement of modern cheesemaking,” says Molly Browne, education manager of Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin. “With state-of-the-art technology, equipment, and environmental controls, today we can create cheese that is both nutritious and tasty.”
Americans adore Italian food. They crave Chinese, Thai and Japanese fare. They’re wild about Mexican cooking. And more recently, they’ve fallen in love with Indian, Vietnamese and Filipino flavors. If you’re hungry for the next big ethnic food trend, you’ll need to learn a word you may have never heard before: Levant, which refers collectively to eastern Mediterranean countries such as Cyprus, Jordan, Lebanon, Israel, Iraq, Syria and Egypt, as well as parts of Turkey.
Limited time offers (LTOs) keep your menu dynamic, but they also can drive traffic and boost sales—especially after the holidays, which for many restaurants can be the slowest time of the year. Perhaps that’s why so many restaurants are embracing them: in the last five years alone, the number of LTO menu items has increased 64 percent, according to Technomic data reported by Restaurant Business, its sister company.
Although price reduction is an easy and obvious LTO tactic, it’s neither the most common nor the most strategic maneuver. Over half (51 percent) of full-service restaurants approach LTOs with innovative food or beverage offerings, letting their products rather than their prices fuel the buzz.
As your R&D team invents short-term offerings that can generate positive word of mouth and increased foot traffic during seasonal slumps, consider these best practices for developing, implementing and marketing LTOs.
Cheese is a staple in many dishes across every daypart, and for good reason: With roughly 2,000 varieties to choose from, the cheese category truly offers something for everyone.
But balancing consumer expectations and operator profitability in the context of current food and diet trends requires a little imagination—especially if the dairy favorite is at the heart of your business, as it is for Melt Bar and Grilled, a 10-unit restaurant group in northeast Ohio that specializes in gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches.
Melt uses 13 different types of cheese in its sandwiches, but the FSR relies primarily on common cheese types for the sake of cost consciousness. “The other ingredients [in Melt sandwiches] are expensive,” explains owner and founder Matt Fish. “We are a high-volume restaurant, and we want [our offerings] to be affordable to every demographic.” Fish’s customers are seeking “value for the dollar,” he continues, “and to use $9- or $10-a-pound cheese for grilled cheese doesn’t make sense.”
Fortunately, there’s an underexplored world of trendy applications for familiar cheeses.