The next time you consider going out to eat, you may have to contend with temptations in the form of burgers so good that can’t be called fast food, special blink-and-you’ll-miss-them deals, drinks poured out of unusual dispensers, and lots and lots of cleavage.
Here, eight trends popping up at restaurants around the country:
“Brestauraunts” Beyond Hooters
Entrepreneur reports on the growing popularity of “public man cave” type restaurants featuring beer, TVs, and wings, and—more importantly—busty waitresses in short shorts and tight shirts. This new breed of “breastaurant” chains challenging Hooters for not-strip-club supremacy include Tilted Kilt, a vaguely Scottish-themed sports bar with girls in plaid skirts and tops, and Twin Peaks, which boasts clever word play (the name refers to the mountain theme and, heh-heh, boobs) and also has the waitresses wear revealing plaid tops. (What’s up with all the plaid?) A restaurant consultant quoted in the story suspects that the success of these restaurants relies a lot on “hiring the right people.” I don’t think he’s referring to the guy flipping the burgers. [time-link title="(Read about the Hot Waitress Index and Other Odd Economic Indicators.)" url=http://moneyland.time.com/2009/09/25/ten-odd-economic-indicators-hot-waitresses-mens-underwear-blacked-out-football-games-and-more/]
Daily Deals That Last Only a Day
Normally, a daily deal involving a restaurant is available for purchase for just one day, but can be used any time over the course of a few months. More and more, though, there’s a rise in true daily deals, with special offers that need to be bought and digested that day, often within a small window of time. LivingSocial introduced its Instant Deals program in New York City last week, already has similar quickie deals in D.C., and plans on expanding nationally by the end of the year. MainStreet rounds up some of the other sites with instant deals, including BiteHunter.
Revolutionary 125-Flavor Beverage Dispenser
Billed as “the ultimate beverage experience,” the Coca-Cola Freestyle looks mostly like a typical soda vending machine. What’s special is that customers place orders on the machine’s touchscreen, and really order whatever they want, with 20 drink options (Sprite, PowerAde, Diet Fanta, etc.) that can be combined in whichever mad scientist combination you want. One Coke executive was quoted as saying, “We believe this will do for beverages what mp3 did for music.” Restaurants with Freestyle dispensers in them are already reporting an increase not only in beverage sales, but in food as well, according to the Boston Globe. Here’s a riveting review from one child who’d just tried out the machine:
“It was cool because you press a button, and it goes ‘beep,’ and you get it,’’ said 10-year-old Georgia Stoney as she sipped her Minute Made Strawberry Lemonade last week.
Wine from the Keg
Glass bottles are so small, so inefficient. Maybe this could be an even more super-ultimate beverage experience: The AP reports on how restaurants are increasingly likely to serve Pinot Grigio or Chardonnay out of the keg into carafes or individual glasses for diners. It’s less expensive to ship and store, it eliminates the possibility of a corked bottle, and some of the kegs are even recyclable. [time-link title="(Read about why it's a good idea to judge a wine strictly by the label.)" url= http://moneyland.time.com/2011/06/10/why-you-should-judge-a-wine-strictly-by-the-label/%5D
Food’s gotten more expensive, and so has the cost to ship it. Per the Orlando Sentinel, the food-price index was 37% higher in May compared to the year before, and only one-third of U.S. restaurants said they’d be leaving menu prices unchanged this year. One-fourth of restaurants indicated they’d already jacked up prices by at least 4%. [time-link title="(Read about how customers are paying a premium for smaller meals and snacks at some eateries.)" url=http://moneyland.time.com/2011/05/24/mini-meals-paying-a-premium-for-less-product/]
Anything in a Wrap
Mexican food is a natural in a wrap. It’s called a burrito. Diners have also gotten used to breakfast, salads, and sandwich ingredients presented in wrap form. How about spaghetti and meatballs? Nation’s Restaurant News reports on the madcap wrap attack, with fast Italian food specialist Fazoli’s trying out sausage-and-pepper-penne and spaghetti-and-meatball wraps, among others. [time-link title="(Read about a new dining trend: Is Brunch the New Dinner?)" url=http://moneyland.time.com/2011/04/18/is-brunch-the-new-dinner/]
Diners are game to pay more for better burgers than the standards at McDonald’s, Burger King, and Wendy’s, as proven by the success and growth of higher-end “gourmet” burger chains such as Five Guys Burgers and Fries, Smashburger, and Danny Meyer’s Shake Shack.
Weird Ice Cream Flavors
French toast, Creole cream cheese, maple bacon sundae, and buttered popcorn are among the many weird new ice cream flavors rounded up in a USA Today story on the trend.