Operators say sayonara to soda

soda bottles

Don’t just give it to ’em straight. When it comes to water, the no-end-in-sight trend is to give it to diners enhanced—and healthier. One in three consumers say they’re increasingly drinking tap water, and 37% say restaurants should offer healthier beverages, according to Technomic’s 2016 Beverage Consumer Trend Report, powered by Ignite. As a result, seltzers and other carbonated-but-unsweetened brands are popping up on menus. As consumers seek out healthier alternatives to sugary drinks, here’s how three noncommercial operators are keeping up with those rising expectations.

1. Enhanced-water product purchases


With beverage vendors offering flavored waters, operators like John Andrews, division director of Culinary and Nutrition Services at Ohio Living, have simply shifted some of their purchasing. The senior living system has switched out one or two juice offerings for flavored waters throughout the day in its beverage machines, saving 10% on beverage costs while reducing residents’ calories. “It’s cost-effective, adds more variety, and from our perspective on the healthcare and assisted living side, it’s healthier,” Andrews says.

2. Housemade infusions

infused water

At the Indiana Convention Center, chefs have met beverage demand with unexpected infusions. At $38 per gallon, the infusions cost less than sodas while still generating extra revenue. Chefs have reached beyond standard offerings like citrus and cucumber with fresh combinations—including watermelon-mint, peach-thyme and grapefruit-rosemary—that include whole sprigs of herbs. “We eat with our eyes, so as soon as they see it, they want to taste it,” says Anthonie Lardiere, director of catering for the Center’s Centerplate-run dining. 

3. Aguas frescas

fruit-infused water

Spanish for “fresh waters,” aguas frescas blur the line between water and juice. Oregon State University’s natural and organic dining location, 541, offers complimentary aguas frescas in flavors like pear-lemon-thyme and apple-pomegranate, says Tara Sanders, assistant director of residential dining and catering. With soda fountain sales down 30% since 2010, the university is considering whether to offer or sell aguas frescas in other venues. “We’re into promoting health and wellness, and this is part of our push for nonsugary beverages,” says Kerry Paterson, residential dining and catering director. “It’s a matter of deciding what your values and priorities are as a department.” 

More From FoodService Director

Menu Development
pizza oven

Wood-fired ovens take the biggest slice of the pie when it comes to pizza-cooking preference for consumers. Just fewer than half (45%) of consumers say they prefer a pizza cooked in a wood-fired oven compared to other oven cooking methods. Here are the styles of ovens pizza consumers prefer most.

Wood-fired oven 45% Gas oven 13% Electric oven 11% Grilled 4% Coal oven 4% No preference 23%

Source: Technomic 2018 Pizza Consumer Trend Report , powered by Ignite

Photo courtesy of Thinkstock

Industry News & Opinion
polystyrene takeout

New York City will immediately start phasing out foodservice operations’ use of polystyrene takeout containers after a judge ruled on Friday against an operator coalition that had sued to overturn such a regulation, Mayor Bill de Blasio said over the weekend.

Unless the measure is blocked again on appeal, the city will commence a public education campaign to smooth the way for the change to other sorts of containers. Operators will be given a six-month grace period to find alternatives before they’ll be subject to sanctions.

The measure was scheduled to take effect last...

Managing Your Business
uber driver

The freelance, independent-contractor labor market known as the gig economy is distinguished by working short-term contracts, or gigs, such as driving for Uber, Lyft or Instacart.

The majority of the U.S. workforce will be freelancers by 2027, according to a study called “Freelancing in America: 2017,” conducted by Edelman Intelligence. The annual study, commissioned in partnership by the Freelancers Union and Upwork Global, estimates that 36% of the U.S. workforce consists of freelancers who contribute approximately $1.4 trillion annually—an increase of almost 30% over the...

Industry News & Opinion

Sturgeon Bay Schools in Sturgeon Bay, Wis., has partnered with a local farm to construct a school greenhouse , Green Bay Press Gazette reports.

Construction will begin soon, and the district says that the project is already 75% funded. Once the building is finished, students will be able to grow their own food at the greenhouse and then learn how to preserve it through canning and other methods.

“The greenhouse will provide students with the opportunity to grow food, sample food they have cultivated, design planting plans, tend seedlings, integrate real-life technology in...

FSD Resources

Code for Asynchronous jQuery Munchkin Tracking Code