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Get a Head Start with 2010 Menu Trends

Posted on 11 February 2010 by Agile Chef

Simplicity is the culinary theme for 2010.

As many consumers continue to watch their spending and cut back on dining out, restaurant operators are simply looking for better ways to fill stomachs without emptying diners’ wallets over the coming year.

Agile Chef has highlighted five “back-to-basics” trends that operators can use to entice recession-weary diners and grab more dining dollars. These trends not only reflect diners’ shift toward good (more) value, but also feel-good comfort during economic uncertainty. It’s driving the way operators respond, from carefully crafted menus to community-conscious fare, in 2010.

Local Fare

Chefs are putting more emphasis on local and seasonal ingredients for menu items. This farm-to-fork concept is appealing to both operators and diners for several reasons: fresh ingredients, minimal transportation and support of local commerce. This also includes regional wine and spirits, and even specialty brews from local microbreweries.

Comfort Foods

Familiar foods, like sandwiches, burgers and mac ‘n’ cheese, are getting a premium upgrade on menus. Have them “your way” by offering substitute ingredients or a condiment bar, and these hearty comfort foods will make diners feel even better about their dining choice.

Less is More

Many restaurants help diners cut back by offering bite size and half portions of their main courses. And while most diners aren’t embracing vegetarian menus, meatless dishes offer another affordable, and healthy, way to eat out. These value-oriented specials can help keep return customers.

Healthier Starts

Breakfast is the building block of your day. So, it’s important to start if off right. Operators take note: Give them more healthful morning menu options and diners are more likely to eat out for breakfast on weekdays. If offered all day (and night), restaurants can also extend hearty brunch buffets on weekends.

Downscale Dining

Upscale restaurants are taking it down a notch. The drive toward downscale dining continues with affordable menus that cut the cost of multicourse meals and/or trim down dining time. Even signature chefs are joining the trend by opening sandwich shops, taco shacks, pubs and cafés.

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