What’s hot at dinner?

Salads and chicken-based entrées to see growth at dinner.

Operators share insights into why certain dinner categories will grow in the next two years.

Salads: Among hospitals, 49% of respondents anticipate that salads and salad bar offerings will grow the most during the dinner daypart. Joy Cantrell, production manager and executive chef at St. Joseph Medical Center, in California, has expanded her operation’s salad offering—and purchases—but not at the salad bar. “We’ve added [to it], just not in a traditional way,” she explains. Cantrell offers signature side salad add-ons at her grill and sandwich stations.

Chicken entrées: Chicken-based hot entrées have the most anticipated growth at dinner among college and universities (41%). Because poultry is a healthier option, Scot Ostrander, food administrator at Northern Illinois University, in DaKalb, finds that “chicken and turkey are very, very, very popular with the students. [We] can do any type of chicken and they’re going to like it.” Although only 11% of colleges reported an expected growth in turkey-based hot entrées, this is a higher growth expectation than the overall non-commercial market, at 8%.

Fish entrées: Among retirement homes and senior living, fish-based entrées are expected to see the most growth at dinner, at 46%. “I could serve fish every day; they love it,” says Nancy Dunton, director of dining and culinary services at Capital Manor Retirement Community, in Oregon. “[Our residents] want to eat more healthy, and they view [fish] as a lean, healthy option,” she notes.