Experts Predict the Top Restaurant Industry Trends for 2016


Restaurant Trends for 2016

It’s a new year, and there’s no shortage of new challenges and opportunities for the restaurant industry. From minimum wage hikes and tech innovations to guests’ evolving tastes and preferences, it seems restaurants are constantly breaking new ground to stay current in an ever-competitive landscape.

We asked some of the top chefs, restaurateurs, and experts in the industry to share their predictions for restaurants in the year ahead. Here are the restaurant industry trends for 2016 that they expect to see in food, drinks, business, and beyond (and take a look back at last year’s predictions to see where experts got it right).


Eamon Rockey“We will see the ground-up restructuring of restaurants as we know it. There are major changes ahead for restaurants legislatively, and with technology, labor, tipping, etc., restaurants will have to rethink operations and how they take care of their customers across the board.”

— Eamon Rockey, General Manager, Betony

Laws and regulations have never been more important to the restaurant industry, changing the way businesses fundamentally operate. Kevin Boehm, Co-Founder of Boka Restaurant Group, predicts that 2016 will be an experimental year for the economic framework for restaurants. “From increased kitchen pay to tipping structures to the inevitable menu cost inflation, we will all be keeping a close eye on what works and what doesn’t,” he says.

Maureen Cushing, Director of IT at Union Square Hospitality Group, says that identifying back-of-house efficiencies will be a major priority for her team in the coming year.

Maureen Cushing“We are always looking for ways to control costs. Scheduling software is something we implemented in 2015, and integrating it with real-time data to control payroll expenses is a focus for 2016. Purchasing software is critical, but the challenge of all businesses is maintaining the recipes for accurate costs.”

— Maureen Cushing, Director of IT, Union Square Hospitality Group

Anthony Rudolf, Founder of Journee, a community for restaurant professionals, sees a future of gratitude over gratuity. “Service included is here to stay,” he says. “That’s a great thing! While guests may be resistant at first, once they understand that the perceived power of tipping was only an illusion, they will realize that leaving behind their gratitude instead of their gratuity is far more satisfying and productive to everyone. Even more so is honest feedback provided in the moment, whether positive or negative.”

Sabato Sagaria, Chief Restaurant Officer at Union Square Hospitality Group, agrees that tipping is on its way out.

As the cost of doing business continues to rise around the country, the traditional model of tipping will further fuel the disparity between dining room teams/culinary teams and make it more of a financial hardship to enter into management,” he predicts. “As a result, more restaurants at varying price points will shift to an all-inclusive pricing model in order to fairly compensate the ENTIRE team, in turn providing more inspiration for others to follow and bring us one year closer to saying… ‘Remember when we used to tip?'”


Erin Fairbanks“We’re gonna get more political! 2016 will be a huge election cycle and so many of the core policy issues facing the restaurant industry are influenced, mandated, or stymied by our elected offices (think mandatory minimum wage, tipping laws, alcohol sales and distribution). I think industry leaders and trade groups will be looking to advocate for enhancements in the dining/beverage sector.”

— Erin Fairbanks, Executive Director, Heritage Radio Network

Leaders in the industry are using their voices to raise awareness and protect their interests. Paul Kahan, Executive Chef and Owner at One Off Hospitality Group, adds that chefs play a particularly important role in fighting for change.

“I would hope that 2016 would be the decline of the celebrity chef, and the rise of the chef as a contributor to food education and advocacy,” he says. “The only way we can institute change in our country is through younger generations.”

Continue Reading

8 Ways to Get Jamming with Marmalade Cocktails

Fresh fruit is the mainstay of farm to glass cocktails, but in chillier months there’s another option: the richness of preserved fruit, specifically marmalade, which adds not only flavor and sweetness but also richness and depth to drinks. Since citrus and sugar are common ingredients in cocktails, marmalade helps mixologists save a step (and an ingredient). Here are some top picks for where to find the most scrumptious marmalade cocktails.

Suffragette City, Hunky Dory, Houston, Texas
Marmalade is most frequently served at breakfast, so it should come as no surprise that it features into some terrific brunch-themed cocktails. At Hunky Dory, several of the drinks have cheeky British names like Sheep Dip and Ground Control to Major Tom. The Suffragette City combines Earl Grey tea vodka, fresh squeezed lemon juice and a cordial made from simple syrup, orange marmalade, and vodka. It’s served in a coupe cocktail glass, served up, and garnished with an edible flower. Go ahead and order it with the Full English Breakfast, which comes with British banger, back bacon, black pudding, mushrooms, baked beans, and fried slice and eggs. Make a reservation at Hunky Dory.

Marmalade cocktails

Breakfast Martini, Fort Defiance, Brooklyn, New York
St. John Frizell, the bartender and operator at Fort Defiance in Red Hook, decided to put the most famous marmalade cocktail, the Breakfast Martini, on his menu after trying it for the first time in London. It’s made with gin, Cointreau, lemon juice, and orange marmalade. Says Frizell, “Salvatore Calabrese made it for me at the Fifty St. James Club. The drink is so simple, elegant, and delicious; I’m honestly surprised it doesn’t show up on more brunch menus.” Make a reservation at Fort Defiance.

Marmalade cocktails

Toast & Marmalade, Atrium DUMBO, Brooklyn, New York
At Brooklyn Bridge Park, you’ll find this chic dual-level dining room with a vertical garden, modern Mediterranean food, and a cocktail called Toast & Marmalade. It was inspired by breakfast — tea and rye toast spread with marmalade, in particular. It features rye bread-infused Guillon Painturaud VSOP Cognac, orange marmalade, Assam tea syrup, and an egg white, effectively encapsulating all the flavors of breakfast in each and every sip. Make a reservation at Atrium DUMBO.

Marmalade cocktails

Alibi, The Dorian, San Francisco, California
The Dorian is a modern-day parlor with plenty of clubby Victorian touches. The drinks menu is extensive with whiskey flights, no fewer than four martinis and a bottled cocktail that serves 3-5 people. According to bartender Ilya Romanov, the Alibi is a take on the original whiskey sour traditionally made with bourbon, lemon juice, and sugar. “Our take on it features Evan Williams Straight Bourbon Whiskey, house made salted pistachio syrup, fresh lemon juice, bitter orange marmalade and a drop of bitters.” It’s a refreshing and playful drink and reflects the same sweet and sour properties of orange marmalade with slight nutty and smoky notes. Make a reservation at The Dorian.

Marmalade cocktails

The Social Tea, The Stanton Social, New York, New York
Located on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, The Stanton Social is a collaboration between several partners including celebrity chef Chris Santos. The menu features multi-ethnic shared-plate style dining and DJs spinning on the second-floor bar and lounge, so ace cocktails are a given. The Social Tea blends together citrus vodka, gunpowder green tea, and a housemade orange-honey marmalade to refresh the palate in between bites of Maryland Crab Cake BLT Sliders, Coconut Curry Samosas, and French Onion Soup Dumplings. Make a reservation at The Stanton Social.

Marmalade cocktailsContinue Reading

S’moregasm: A Dozen S’mores Desserts Inspired by the Campfire Classic

It’s the time of year to gather around fire pits, under heat lamps, and in front of hearths. Whenever we find ourselves warming ourselves by those flickering flames, we inevitably start dreaming about s’mores. There’s just something about that undeniably awesome combination of crunchy graham crackers, gooey marshmallows, and partially melted squares of chocolate. But we’ve come a long way from the traditional triumvirate from Nabisco, Hershey’s, and Kraft. The ingredients have gone gourmet while the presentations are seriously reconsidered. Treat yourself to a dozen s’mores desserts – no fire required.

Havana Beach, Rosemary Beach, Florida
Just looking at this photo makes us salivate. Arriving in a mini swing-top bale jar, the Beachside S’mores feature flame-kissed vanilla marshmallows, spiced chocolate, and fluff. Housemade graham crackers are served on the side, so you can construct your own sweet sandwiches. Make a reservation at Havana Beach.

S'mores Desserts

Bourbon Steak, Washington, D.C.
You know this s’more is super fancy schmancy because it arrives hidden under a smoke-filled cloche. The server pulls it away to release a hazy cloud, which clears to reveal marshmallow, toasted marshmallow ice cream, hazelnut graham streusel, and caramel and milk chocolate shards from Valrhona. Make sure you take a picture before you take a bite — this dessert is worthy of your Instagram feed. Make a reservation at Bourbon Steak.

S'mores Desserts

Figs, Jackson, Wyoming
Finally, there’s a s’more in cocktail form. The Wyoming Campfire features a tasty triple threat – Bailey’s Irish Crème, Kahlua, and Wyoming Whiskey – as well as coffee, hot chocolate, and a blazed marshmallow. You can’t warm your hands over it, but it will definitely light a fire in your belly. Make a reservation at Figs.

S'mores Desserts

MK, Chicago, Illinois
Taking its name from the film Sandlot, the “You’re Killin’ Me S’mores” are an elevated expression of the simplistic sweet. Pastry chef Lisa Bonjour artfully plates cubes and spheres of dark chocolate ganache, a quenelle of graham cracker ice cream, charred bubbly clouds of marshmallow, and a scattering of peanuts. Like they say in the movie, “Remember kid, there’s heroes and there’s legends. Heroes get remembered, but legends never die.” This s’more is definitely legendary. Make a reservation at MK.

S'mores Desserts

Graze, Winston-Salem, North Carolina
Chef Richard Miller modernizes the long-loved camping trip treat. A crumbly mound of Marcona almond graham cracker streusel is paired with a bar of rich chocolate ganache and plenty of brûléed marshmallow. Worthy of both your inner child and your adult self. Make a reservation at Graze.

S'mores Desserts

Presidio Social Club, San Francisco
One thinks of s’mores as warm, sticky sweets, but this rendition offers a cooler perspective. Salted caramel ice cream is bookended by chocolate brownie cookies and speckled with singed squares of marshmallow and candied peanuts. Warning: a brain freeze may ensue if you devour it too quickly. Make a reservation at Presidio Social Club.

S'mores DessertsContinue Reading

Dine Like an #NFL Star: Where the New England Patriots Eat

As they drive toward another Super Bowl championship, it’s clear the New England Patriots football team knows how to score —both touchdowns and a table at their fave restaurants in and around Boston. Here’s the playbook for where the New England Patriots eat (yep, Tom Brady, too!). Tip: Don’t wear your Patriots’ jersey, jacket, shoelaces and face paint when eating at one of these spots — that would just be weird.

Del Frisco’s Grille, Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts
Tom Brady has been known to frequent this suburban Boston restaurant, a lateral move from his home. The playful menu features classic comfort foods like Ahi Tuna Tacos (tuna tartare, avocado and spicy citrus mayo) and Truffle-infused Deviled Eggs. And the signature Cheesesteak Eggrolls, with a kick of sweet and spicy chili sauce or honey mustard, are a top pick among NFL players who dine at Del Frisco’s Grille locations in their hometowns (there are almost two dozen locations around the country). Filet mignon, lobster rolls, roasted chicken, and “two-fisted” sandwiches are also on the lineup. Make a reservation at Del Frisco’s Grille.

Where the New England Patriots Eat

Abe & Louie’s, Boston, Massachusetts
Patriots’ wide receivers Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola have recently visited this classic American steakhouse, as has former Patriots’ cornerback Ty Law. Fans cheer for the signature corn-fed steaks, such as the aged Prime New York Sirloin, bone-in aged Prime Ribeye, and Prime Porterhouse, as well as for sideline dishes like baked potatoes, creamed corn, creamed spinach, and the traditional wedge salad with bacon lardons, tomatoes, and blue cheese or Thousand Island dressing. The stunning seafood tower, swordfish, lobster, and salmon are also team players as is the New England clam chowder, of course — home field advantage. Make a reservation at Abe & Louie’s.

Where the New England Patriots Eat

La Morra, Brookline Village, Massachusetts
The game plan for Brady when he visits this neighborhood restaurant: order the Bolognese di la Morra, reportedly the quarterback’s favorite. This isn’t necessarily your Nonna in the North End’s Bolognese — the traditional lamb, pork, veal and beef dish gets a conversion from a foie gras butter at La Morra. Go with the Tagliatelle al Ragu — housemade tagliatelle with bolognese. Sometimes Brady calls an audible and reportedly goes with the wood grill chicken under a brick. Make a reservation at La Morra.

Where the New England Patriots EatContinue Reading