5 ways to think like a restaurateur

Published in FSD Update

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Every May during the National Restaurant Association Show, FoodService Director takes several busloads of noncommercial operators on a restaurant tour to scout trends from Chicago’s hottest new eateries.

Besides leaving with full stomachs and satisfied palates, foodservice directors on our annual Taste the Trends tour, sponsored by Basic American Foods, also walk away with a camera full of new ideas to take back to their own operations. Here is a roundup from this year’s savory scouting mission.

1. Theme your action stations

latinicity

Food halls—those upscale food courts popping up in cities from Los Angeles to Atlanta—typically sell themselves on the wide array of choices on offer, from pizza to noodles to sandwiches. But Latinicity, Chicago’s newest iteration and the kickoff stop on this year’s Taste the Trends tour, showcases the variety within one type of cuisine. Here, a dozen food stalls all dish out different Latin street foods, such as Peruvian ceviche, Brazilian steaks and Mexican fish tacos. Yet the concept is not overly strict in its authenticity, expanding the mix to also include burgers and hot dogs with a Latin twist.

Latinicity also is proving its viability beyond lunch—which is expectedly strong—finding a surprising value-add in marketing its ethnic-focused format for brunch and special events.

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