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July 14, 2015

News You Can Use to Plan Your Next Move

Crepes_sizedWhen we see an important trend or two or three or four we just gotta weigh in, you know, before the trend is passé and everyone’s on to the next big thing. Last year, we were writing about food trucks and how they rolled into towns giving restaurateurs a venue to try out a new concept without major expense. Now we look at the next evolution in the process, along with some other noteworthy game changers.

1) Upscale Food Court. You say old building, we say food hall. Slowly but surely food halls are taking over the planet Earth. Food halls are really upscale food courts and markets housed under one roof—generally no suburban mall in sight. Ever since Mario Batali started Eataly in New York five years ago, the trend has steam-rolled: reports that nearly 25 food halls have opened this year or will open in within the next two or three years—and that doesn’t include outposts of already established concepts that have sprouted up like so many mushrooms in major cities.

Erika Cross /

The concepts vary slightly but most include a funky old restored building preserving the charm of the original; fast casual restaurants or food stalls; and fresh food purveyors. Some include high end, sit down restaurants. In Denver, the just-opened Avanti Food & Beverage food hall has been turned into a “restaurant incubator,” according to The Denver Post, where restaurateurs can try out concepts without the overhead of opening their own restaurants. They lease the space which gives them the chance to try out ideas a la food trucks. The Avanti also taps into another trend—the food hall is located in a funky old building with seating, while modified shipping containers around the perimeter house the restaurants.

Food celebs Anthony Bourdain and Richard Sandoval are about to turn their fame into more fortune, as they, too get ready to open their own food halls. Sandoval will open Latinicity in Chicago, while Bourdain has chosen a location in New York City.

2) Cluck Not A Buck. Anyway you coat it, fried chicken has gone from in-the-bucket to on-the-table at high end restaurants. Experts can spin the reasons anyway they want—the popularity of waffles and chicken, say, but we have our own take: It tastes good and it’s too messy to make at home (to say nothing of the guilt factor when you’re frying in all that oil). Much better to leave it to restaurants, where we can have our chicken and eat it too—ignore the g-factor—and let someone else clean up the grease splatters.

3) Get a Whiff of This. Truffles, the mushroom kind, not the chocolate kind, have long been highly prized (so are the chocolate kind), but hard to find. Although pigs have long been known for their uncanny ability to find the elusive mushroom, there’s a new animal in town. Truffle trainers are teaching dogs to take up the challenge for anyone who wants to buy one. True, pigs have their charms, but snorting for truffles isn’t especially one of them. For one thing, the pigs like to eat the truffles. For another, well, they’re not as furry and lovable. Sorry, Wilbur.

4) Speaking of Food Halls. The Nutella Bar opened its first locale at Eataly in Chicago and its second in New York City this past May. The success of the everything-with-Nutella concept (from crepes to muffins) has spawned plans to open more Nutella Bars in other locations. The Ferrero family of Italy perfected the Nutella recipe in 1944 and built the chocolate-and-hazelnut spread into a worldwide phenomenon. Ferrero uses about 25 percent of the hazelnut supply in its hazelnut candy and the Nutella spread.


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