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2017 Trendspotting: Rethinking Fast-Cas

Filed under Trends, Trends/Forecasts

It is not the Christmas season yet despite Burger King in Germany having introduced the Rösti Santa and Angus Claus holiday burgers already. And it’s not the end of 2016, but Michael Whiteman of New York City hospitality consultancy Baum & Whiteman has released his 13 trend forecasts for 2017.

A few highlights: He sees the rapid rise of restaurants without seats, i.e. delivery-only operations, in major cities. He cites Maple and Ando, two delivery only concepts in New York City from chef-entrepreneur David Chang.

Also, “Vegetables in 2017 will extend their domination of the dinner plate, shoving animal protein to the edges … or off the plate altogether.” If so, this is, of course, bad news for burgers. But there’s no denying that more-creative veggie sides are on burger bar menus these days.

Has “farm-to-table” become enough of a cliché? Whiteman says, “Say hello to the ‘butcher-to-table’ trend.” Wait. What happened to the reign of veggies? Anyway, the idea “is to wow consumers with nose-to-tail butchery of humanely-raised (but nonetheless dead) animals that lend their pasture-grazed protein to all manner of charcuterie, innards and odd parts, and newfangled cuts of meat.”

jack_brunchfastBreakfast is becoming brunch, he observes, and the texture of breakfast foods is changing. “Use to be that breakfast was smooth and soothing … think of soft scrambled eggs, buttered grits, custardy french toast, varieties of benedicts. oatmeal. Today’s textures (and tastes) are turning aggressive … crunchy fried chicken, sriracha, crispy chorizo, chimichurri, coarse whole-grain cereal.” He mentions Jack in the Box’s “Brunchfast” but forgets an earlier BurgerBusiness exclusive: McDonalds trademarked “McBrunch” back in September 2014.

[Is this a good time to mention that Sonic reportedly plans to bring back the Pancake on a Stick to its breakfast menu?]

Kale is on the way out; seaweeds are coming in.

Is the fast-casual boom over? Not necessarily, but “Sounds to us like the young fast-casual field is ripe for some re-invention.” True that.

Finally, I’ll mention his very smart observation that the places to look for fast-casual concept innovation are the snack and beverage aisles of your grocer. “Creative energy in food has shifted away from what’s the next fast-cas restaurant or what’s the next hot vegetable, or what comes after molecular cuisine … to young, fearless entrepreneurs making insect bars, seaweed noodles, vegetable yogurts, bone broth pouches, and people experimenting with pulses, fermented products, artisan superfoods and innovative beverages.”buffalowild_lagunitas

He has much more. There’s time to read it all before the year ends!

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Speaking of trend forecasting, I’ll throw out this remind that one of the five trends I predicted for 2016 was that this would be the “Year of the Bar” for burger bars, with alcoholic-beverage sales moving front and center. I added that this “might even include more brewery/restaurateur partnerships like the recently opened Point Burger Bar in Milwaukee. Restaurateur Brian Ward struck a licensing deal with Stevens Point Brewery, brewer of Point Beer, to create the burger bar.”

I’m reminded of that seeing Buffalo Wild Wings’ introduction yesterday of Fandom Ale (at r.), its collaboration with Lagunitas Brewing Co. This comes on the heels of Carl’s Jr./Hardee’s Budweiser Beer Cheese Bacon Burger and Red Robin’s Grilled Pineapple Golden Ale collaboration with New Belgium Brewing.

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Shake Shack can’t stop itself. Today—and today only—it will be selling a new burger creation in its Tokyo stores, the third limited-edition sandwich developed in less than a month.

The new “Den Shack” (below), selling today for $9, is a collaboration with Chef Zaiyu Hasegawa of Jimbocho Den, recipient of two Michelin stars. The build is simple: beef, miso sauce and lots and lots of sliced cucumber.

On Oct. 6, Shake Shack introduced the Salt & Pepper Chick’n sandwich at its Brooklyn stores. Then, last week, it teamed with Los Angeles chefs Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo to create the Son of a Gun Chick’n Shack, which was sold only on Oct. 28 and only at the chain’s Madison Square Park location, where the Shake Shack concept originated.

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