Smoothies and shakes: Blended investment

A selection of fruit smoothies can add on-trend beverage choices to your menu and boost your average check. There are several ways to go when it comes to purchasing and operating strategies.

Fresh from scratch smoothies are the most difficult to execute. Fresh fruit is not simple to select, buy, store and handle. Often you have to ripen fruit shipped green, and there’s a brief window of usability—waste can be a problem. In addition, fresh fruit has to be peeled, pitted and otherwise prepped, which can impact labor costs. Seasonality is often a factor, too. That said, fresh fruit smoothies made from scratch are a classy beverage offering and can be promoted and priced to reflect that.

Many of the purchasing difficulties with fresh can be avoided by using IQF (individually quick frozen) fruit. Seasonality is no longer an issue, and fruit frozen at its peak can be better quality than fresh fruit that’s past its prime. Check deliveries at the back door to ensure that the product is still frozen solid. A good compromise is to combine IQF product with dependable fresh varieties, such as bananas and citrus, that are generally available year round.

Perhaps the easiest way to serve a smoothie is to buy one of the many mixes on the market. Powders and concentrates require messy mixing and usually don’t produce the best-quality final product. A better choice is full-strength smoothie mix, available in a huge variety of flavors. These products usually come in reclosable 1-liter boxes, which are shelf-stable until opened. To use, just puree in a blender with ice. This type of smoothie mix can also be dispensed from a granita machine.

A whole new category of smoothie has grown up around tea. Black tea, green tea, white tea and especially chai (a spicy milky tea concoction) are all available in concentrate form, ready to blend with ice and serve. The latest entry is yerba mate, a South American tea drink that’s also being promoted as a smoothie. For a signature smoothie, add fresh or frozen fruit to these tea concentrates.

A favorite way to upgrade smoothie selections is with ingredient additions. Yogurt, milk, ice cream, sherbet or sorbet all thicken and/or add richness. Soy or rice milk are dairy-free variations. Bee pollen, kelp, soy protein, creatine, whey, wheatgrass, echinacea and ginkgo biloba appeal to the health-seeking crowd, but you’ll have to go outside the usual supply channels to purchase most of them.

Finally, pomegranates, tart cherries, blueberries and acai berries are all touted for their high antioxidant levels. It’s easy—although relatively expensive—to add a dose of these healthy juices to any smoothie.

More From FoodService Director

Industry News & Opinion
Richard cousins

Compass Group confirmed this morning that CEO Richard Cousins was killed on New Year’s Eve in a small-plane crash off the coast of Australia. He was 58.

Cousins was scheduled to step down as CEO in March, after leading the world’s largest foodservice management company for 11 years. His planned successor, Compass COO Dominic Blakemore, has agreed to assume Cousins’ duties immediately.

“We are deeply shocked and saddened by this terrible news,” Compass Chairman Paul Walsh said in a statement. “It has been a great privilege to know Richard personally and to work with him for...

Menu Development
to-go meals

Drew Allen didn’t hesitate when asked what he expects of noncommercial dining in the future. “Change,” he says. “We have to change with the times and what our guests are looking for.”

Allen, the director of culinary services at Otterbein Senior Lifestyle Choices in Lebanon, Ohio, says the more the residents and guests at Otterbein change, the more diverse eating habits his team has the chance to explore. One of those changing habits, he says, is diners’ growing desire for portable, made-to-order items . That’s a theme borne out by data, too—and is true across dayparts. Roughly 67%...

Ideas and Innovation
trail mix

We’ve added fueling stations in our units for our workers who didn’t have time to eat or just need a snack. We have areas set up with trail mix, crackers, cookies and water. It helps us avoid people feeling or getting ill, especially when we get closer to exam periods and student workers are studying and not taking the time to eat.

Ideas and Innovation
email

Communication is key, and [managers] are busy too. One tip I picked up from another director was to label my subject line with the header “action,” “information” or “response” followed by a brief description of the email contents. That way they can filter through their inboxes during their busy days to know which emails need their attention immediately and which they can save to read later.

FSD Resources