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The Ghost Kitchen Trend of 2021

Take Out Containers

Living in the digital age definitely comes with a lot of perks, especially when it comes to foodservice and what's known as the "ghost kitchen". In the last five years, apps like GrubHub, UberEats, and DoorDash have taken over the food industry. Offering convenience by taking away the long lines and busy hustle of sitting in a restaurant waiting to order, these apps have provided a simple way to grab breakfast, lunch, or dinner without having to leave the comfort of your office or home. What more could you want?

Well, from an industry perspective, staying on par with the latest trends without having to take a loss to be a part of it is the goal. As consumers further move towards online orders and delivery services, keeping up without going into debt can be difficult for start-ups and older businesses. Fortunately, the ghost kitchen is offering a perfectly balanced solution to help you keep up with consumer's technology-savvy desires.

WHAT IS THE GHOST KITCHEN PHENOMENON?

Simply put, a ghost kitchen is a facility set up for delivery-only meals. It provides space to prepare and produce these meals so that online orders are successful without any snags or troubles along the way. Through ghost kitchen services, foodservice operators are able to expand their areas of service, focus more on seamlessly contactless methods of serving, and cut back on the costs of real estate.

PERKS, CONS, AND MORE

Ghost kitchens are dominating the food industry by honing in on a specific style of food or a particular cuisine. This allows kitchens to focus on multiple brands of an item, making it easy to reach customers looking for a specific dish while also taking advantage of the real estate market. Perks you can be on the lookout for are:

  • Cross utilizing products between brands
  • Quick launch phase
  • Cheaper than opening a brand-new location for each brand
  • Less equipment needed
  • Expand customer reach by taking advantage of a broader delivery area away from your permanent location

With any new business model, there are disadvantages. As ghost kitchens grow and work out all their kinks, here are the cons you might experience:

  • High competition due to an increased virtual food court
  • No walk-in traffic
  • Limits on your delivery service based on where that kitchen is located

As trends change and services such as ghost kitchens continue to rise in popularity, staying on top of the foodservice industry will also change. Ghost kitchens' rise in success comes from their ability to expand business in small increments. They allow you to reach consumers you may not reach otherwise and help you break into the delivery service movement that's taking over.

Following the odd year we had in 2020, consumers will continue taking advantage of online ordering and curbside pick up or delivery services. In 2021, we can expect that the ghost kitchen trend will grow drastically. It only takes somebody 66 days, on average, to form a habit. If we look at that from a delivery perspective, then the habit of utilizing quick service apps is already habitual.

For more information on how you can implement the ghost kitchen into your foodservice operation, contact us at Lakeside today. Our experts focus on manufacturing top of the line foodservice equipment as well as continuously monitor the latest industry trends. We'll be following the ghost kitchen trend through 2021, and we look forward to helping you make the necessary changes to do the same and to further assist in increasing the success of your overall foodservice operation.

Keep up with even more trends by watching our recorded webinar "Top 10 Foodservice Trends of 2021".

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How Digital Tools are Transforming Foodservice

Chef Taking Food Inventory

Are you interested in improving efficiency, increasing output, and reducing food waste in your restaurant or other foodservice business? If you are, it may be time to get technical. That's right, technology is playing an increasingly important role in the foodservice industry.

According to an article in Forbes magazine, we owe many of the improvements in the production, packaging, shelf life, and safety of food to improved technology in the food industry. From drone farmworkers to robotic butchers, technology is impacting all areas of food production and distribution. For example, satellite imagery helps monitor weather patterns that can affect the timing of planting and harvesting. Farm drones pinpoint diseased crops so that pesticides can be applied precisely where they're needed instead of blanket bombing entire fields. Advanced packaging can improve food safety, increase shelf life, and help eliminate waste.

Going Green

Technology can even help your business go green. An app such as Copia can keep track of your food inventory to help you make more informed purchasing decisions. It will also help you reduce food waste by connecting you with local non-profits who can make good use of your surplus food.

After-school programs, shelters, and other programs will benefit from that surplus while you reap the tax benefits of your donations. Not only that, but you'll no longer be contributing to the 40% of American food that gets wasted each year. That's an important point for many customers, especially millennials and generation Z.

Sustainability is a major concern for many of these younger customers. They may even choose a place to eat based on it. Reducing water consumption and greenhouse gas emissions go hand in hand with reducing food waste. So too does sourcing food locally, since it reduces the fuel and emissions associated with long-distance shipping. Not only is improved sustainability beneficial to the planet, but it also benefits your bottom line through lower food costs and an increased customer base.

Managing Inventory and Production Schedules

Use technology to help you with more accurate inventory management so that you always know what to order and when. You can also use it to manage your production schedule in order to improve efficiency and reduce wasteful overproduction. According to the non-profit ReFED organization, you can save thousands of dollars annually just by using technology to track and reduce waste.

Digital tools transforming foodservice is just one trend to look for in 2021. Learn more about the top food and beverage trends of the new year in our recorded webinar, “Top 10 Foodservice Trends of 2021”.

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2021 Trends Foodservice Consultants Should Consider

Sustainable consumption and healthy eating, along with climate change, are significantly influencing consumer choices.

 More than ever before, people want to know the source of their food, how healthy are its contents, and whether it has been produced, processed, packaged and distributed in a sustainable fashion.

This article from Foodservice Consultants Society International (FCSI) quotes a report by the research firm Datassential indicating the climate crisis and a new generation of plant-based foods will impact our industry in 2020, and these are all trends that foodservice consultants should know.

Sustainable Food

The relevant questions for sustainable food are how much land is required, how much water are we using, and are we using too much energy in the production and processing of our food supplies?

Tastewise, a company that brings the power of AI to analyzing food trends, studied over two billion social interactions, more than three million online recipes, and the largest restaurant menu database available of 274,000 restaurants to conclude that, compared to a year ago, food sustainability is a high priority item for 23 percent more consumers. 

Customers are now placing greater emphasis on sustainable ingredients and resource-light production techniques like hydroponics, recyclable packaging, and the avoidance of plastic. Another notable fact is the emergence of vegetarianism and veganism as mainstream trends. 

Clara Ming Pi of FCSI says, "I am very pleased to say that, finally, the plant-based movement is here!" The adoption of plant-based foods has another motivation driving it: health consciousness.

Healthier Food Choices

It turns out that a meat-based diet is not only resource-intensive but also a contributing factor to health issues like cancer. 

"Our food supplies contribute to one-third of greenhouse gas emissions, and the foods that create the most greenhouse gases are the same foods that are contributing to many of our chronic diseases," Pi said. 

Thirty-nine percent of consumers' conversations about sustainable food also include references to the health benefits of various food choices. Another relevant statistic is that the sale of plant-based food in the U.S. has increased by 8.1 percent over the last year. 

"We see more healthy, sustainable and plant-based dining that tastes appetizing to a wider demographic than ever before," said Melanie Corey-Ferrini, CEO of 3.14DC Design and Consulting, an FCSI associate.

Technology and the Food Chain

The food industry needs to cope with shifts in consumers' preferences. Advances in technology enable production techniques like hydroponics. Technological advances also help the industry cope with the recent trend towards catering and takeout. Restaurant layout, kitchen design, and staff skills have to change to adapt to this emerging trend. 

"Think smart equipment, mobile technology like order/pay apps, and robots for foodservice tasks including delivery,” said Connie Dickson, a principal with FCSI associate member.

Taste Trends

FSCI reports the following shifts in U.S. consumers' taste preferences:

  • Trending regional flavors: Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, and Latin American.
  • Foreign foods in demand: Mexican Puebla Hot Pot (a chicken dish), Greek Manouri (a goat cheese), Indian Millet (an ancient grain), Tanzanian Mishkaki (marinated meat skewers), and Chinese Jianbing (street-food breakfast crepe)
  • Growing restaurant concepts: Chef-driven fast-casual, Farm-to-table, and Family-friendly
  • Emerging restaurant concepts: Dog-friendly, Upcycling, and Hyper-local
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Webinar: Top 10 Foodservice Trends of 2021

Webinar: Top 10 Foodservice Trends of 2021

Your world has been dominated by shifts and progressions, forcing the evolution of your operations. So how can you keep up?

After months of surveys, conversations, trainings, and research, we’ve identified 10 foodservice trends to help you rise into the new year.

You’ll learn:

  • The top 10 foodservice trends in 2021
  • How other businesses and industries are adapting
  • How to implement these strategies for yourself

Reserve your spot now!

Recorded Webinar

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The COVID Resource Roundup

If there was one word to describe 2020, “uncertainty” has to be at the top of the list.

The world has completely changed since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the ability to adapt and adjust to this new world we live in, especially in foodservice, has never been more critical. Here at Lakeside, our first instinct is to help our customers, whether it’s through in-room meal solutions in healthcare, sanitization in restaurants, or meal delivery and accessibility in K-12 and colleges and universities.

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How Healthcare Foodservice Leaders Are Responding in 2020

Pressure was placed on healthcare foodservice leaders to develop an unexpected pandemic response plan.

Many have prepared for emergencies like fires, tornadoes, hurricanes, or mass shootings, but a pandemic was not on the list for the near future. Since being prepared is key to any good action plan, a lot of pressure was placed on healthcare foodservice leaders to develop an unexpected pandemic response plan. Nonetheless, they stepped up to the plate and knocked it out of the park with response plans created to anticipate the worst, respond immediately, and adapt to the inevitable changes to come. Circumstances differ from hospital to hospital due to location and outbreak, but food service leaders are working hard to keep providing food to patients and staff.

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How to Provide Catering Services in the Age of COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has been challenging for most catering companies across the country.

As events begin to happen again, you may be wondering if your catering company is prepared to handle safe foodservice during this unique time. Fortunately, making a few simple adjustments to your regular operations can make it easier to return to working at events while keeping your employees, clients, and clients' guests safe. Here are five tips for safely providing catering services during the age of COVID-19!

Consider Flameless Alternatives to Keep Food Warm

Although many catering companies continue to use flames to keep food warm until it is served, this approach comes with several disadvantages. In addition to the obvious danger of using an open flame when it may not be necessary, this type of heating requires that someone from your catering company stay until the end of the event to monitor the flame and clean up the equipment.

However, as contactless pickup and delivery are becoming more and more common across the restaurant industry, many of your clients may be interested in this type of approach. By switching to a disposable heating source, some which only require water and keeps food hot for up to one hour, you can simply drop off catered food without having to return later to pick items up. This alternative can increase safety and convenience for both your clients and your employees.

Limit Self-Service Options

Although buffets and salad bars are usually convenient choices for many types of events, they may not be the safest options during COVID-19. Consider temporarily limiting your options to full meals, served either by a member of your team or as prepackaged meals, instead of allowing event guests to serve themselves to prevent possible contamination.

Wear Gloves While Handling Food

Although caterers and other foodservice employees should always wear gloves while directly handling food, this step is even more important in the age of COVID-19. Caterers should also wear gloves when serving meals or delivering food to the venue.

Sanitize Equipment Thoroughly

Likewise, following guidelines for thoroughly cleaning and sanitizing equipment and surfaces is a must. Be sure to wipe down tables before setting up and after serving, launder tablecloths between uses, and store dishes properly after washing them to prevent contamination. It may also be a good idea to consider temporarily switching to disposable dishes, napkins, and utensils for some or all of your events to minimize the number of items you need to disinfect.

Establish Your Restaurant or Foodservice Company as a Trusted Brand

Providing high-quality food and service to establish a strong reputation in your community and a base of recurring customers is crucial under normal circumstances, but it is more important than ever to make sure that your brand becomes known for paying close attention to safety recommendations.

Returning to the frequency and size of events that you are used to providing catering services for will take time, and many of your clients will not make the decision to host an event that requires catering without hesitation. With this in mind, being able to assure your clients that your catering company is a trusted brand that is following food safety guidelines and other current recommendations will go a long way toward returning to a thriving catering company.

At Lakeside Foodservice, we know that this year's significant decline in events has been difficult for many catering companies, restaurants, and other businesses within the foodservice industry. Fortunately, opportunities for caterers to safely move toward normal operations are beginning to return in some areas. By following these simple guidelines, providing safe catering services is possible even during the age of COVID-19. For more tips and solutions for navigating the current situation while keeping your clients safe, check out our COVID-19 Solutions Guide.

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The Future of Restaurants in the COVID Era

Chef

Restaurants, hospitality, and other types of foodservice operations can expect a variety of changes as we move forward into 2021.

Though so much has changed already, there are additional changes we can expect as we finish out 2020. Restaurants and other types of operations can expect a continued focus on safety and the mitigation of potential Coronavirus spread, and this will result in a dependency on new and innovative foodservice equipment and supplies.

As an example, just consider what restaurants face when new products or ingredients arrive at the back door. As we know from numerous reports, the coronavirus can live on cardboard for varying amounts of time. This means removing boxes from food production areas, as well as training staff to properly disinfect after receiving and disposing of boxes, can be a critical step in preventing the spread of COVID-19. We can expect storage options like Lexan containers to be in high demand as restaurants look to shelve items and ingredients on their own versus the boxes in which they were delivered.

HOW WILL THE BACK-OF-HOUSE CHANGE?

Certainly, receiving and storage will be an important part of any back-of-house changes, as will staff training on sanitation processes, but what else can we expect in commercial kitchens as we look to 2021?

We're working through that question right now in many ways. Separation and social distancing are critical, but that can often be impossible in the tight quarters of a kitchen. Dividers and partitions can keep cooks safe, and many restaurants are even considering pods where small groups are separate from other small groups. Expeditors are also a great way to separate those who can touch food from those who cannot.

The back-of-the-house should be isolated from the front-of-the-house as much as possible. One easy way to do this is to create separate entrances for employees and customers, with important sanitation protocols posted at both doors. Gloves, aprons, masks, and other personal protective equipment are great indicators that an operation has a plan in place, and this goes a long way to increasing customer confidence.

HOW WILL THE FRONT-OF-THE-HOUSE CHANGE?

Customer confidence is a phrase worth repeating. Right now, more than anything, more than even food quality and convenience, customer confidence is probably the most important benefit a restaurant can provide.

Everyone has different levels of comfort as it pertains to COVID-19. There are people who have little to no concern about entering a restaurant, and there are others who are still having groceries delivered to their homes and will not leave their own confines. Most people are somewhere in the middle, and as they gain confidence in consumer safety efforts, they'll likely be more comfortable to enter a restaurant, even if it's just for takeout.

Today's restaurant needs multiple layers of protection, barriers and partitions to reinforce the safety of products, furniture, staff, and guests. Main considerations include minimal and spaced tables, a streamlined ordering and paying process, and then minimal contact for food delivery.

CHANGE IS INEVITABLE

By now, it's pretty obvious things will change in the restaurant industry. Even after a vaccine is in place for COVID-19, many of the precautions we're learning today will likely carry over as best practices in the future.

Some of the other things to look for and consider will be UV lights for coolers and storages areas, mobile prep areas and action stations to isolate parts of the cooking process and even bring them to the front-of-the-house, as well as the continued use of sanitation stations and safety partitions.

WHERE TO START:

Re-purposing your equipment to a COVID-19 world is possible. There are also some new solutions to inspire your efforts in meal delivery, sanitation, social distancing, and more. Need inspiration? Here's a guide on Product Solutions to keep your business moving in a COVID-19 world.

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6 Simple Actionable Steps for Foodservice Amidst COVID-19

Face mask

What steps should you take to ensure the safety of your foodservice operation?

COVID-19 Basics in the Food Industry

In the midst of this global pandemic, it is critical for our customers to be aware of COVID-19 and what it means for our industry. The coronavirus and subsequent COVID-19 disease has made its way across the globe, and it’s having impacts on the foodservice industry that have never been seen before.

First, it’s important to know the coronavirus is spread through direct contact of person to person and airborne droplets. If the virus makes its way onto a surface, it can live anywhere from 24-72 hours. 

If someone touches a surface that has been contaminated by someone else with the virus, they can contract it if they do not wash their hands immediately. Washing your hands before touching your mouth, nose, or eyes will kill the virus and the best type of prevention.

More details and guidelines can be found here from the CDC.

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