This week, operators from across the industry are preparing to descend upon Chicago for the 2016 National Restaurant Association Show. One of the highlights we most look forward to during the show is our Taste the Trends tour—a dine-around co-hosted by FSD and Basic American Foods—designed to scope out the trends shaping foodservice today.
The point is not to enjoy delicious food in one of the most fertile restaurant testing grounds in the country—although, admittedly, that’s a welcome side effect (and one of the many reasons my job does not suck). The real benefit is being able to sample a full new restaurant experience firsthand, and mine for insights on everything from flavor trends to design inspiration to best practices in customer service.
Foodservice directors tell us all the time that they’re constantly scouting for ideas, whether during formal dine-around events like ours, while visiting new cities for association meetings or while out and about close to home with their own families. Inspiration can come from anywhere.
To make your hunt a little bit easier, we’ve filled the May issue of the magazine with groundbreaking foodservice concepts rich with ideas worth stealing. Our cover story, “9 designs that shine,” goes inside noncommercial concepts that are setting the bar for others in the industry. From The Yard in San Francisco—an ambitious outdoor concession-stand food court—to the Kathleen Grimm school in Staten Island, N.Y., where the cafeteria is designed to be transparent and educate students in real time about the healthy foods they’re eating, these concepts are ripe with ideas big and small for plucking.
Additionally, this month’s Restaurant Report contains a dining guide specifically for foodservice professionals in Chicago for the NRA Show. It lists new spots in town worth a visit for the innovative ways they’re interpreting, updating and executing the trends customers are clamoring for. What would make people pay $8 for a bagel sandwich to go? They’ve figured out the secret at Snaggletooth (hint: it’s all about customization). Looking for ways to weave more global offerings into your mix of action stations? Take a stroll through the city’s new Latin-theme food hall, Latinicity, with more than 22,000 square feet of inspiration.
While no one is condoning downright thievery, of course, we’ve long been advocates of borrowing ideas that work. It’s something we celebrate in our monthly Steal This Idea column, long one of FSD’s most popular features. And it’s an idea as old as foodservice itself—adapting suitable ideas for your own captive audience is just smart business.