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Author Archive | Kelsey Ellis

Ah, Beer. The Rise of Craft Beer in America

Craft Brews

Here at Tundra we love beer, and according to the Brewers Association, we’re not alone. There are 2,347 craft breweries across the country, providing an estimated 100,000 part-time and full-time jobs.  These stats are amazing, especially because overall beer sales numbers have decreased across the board… except in craft beer’s case, which saw a 15% increase in 2012! According to Paul Gatza, director of the Brewers Association:

“Beer-passionate Americans are opening breweries at a rate faster than at any time since the day Prohibition ended for the beverage of moderation. There is nearly a new brewery opening for every day of the year, benefiting beer lovers and communities in every area across the country.”

I’ve learned that craft beer is many different things to many different people.  American tastes are changing, consider coffee, tea, cheese, chocolate, bread, and (yes) beer. American consumers increasingly want choices of flavor in the foods that they buy.

  • Quality: Small and independent craft brewers are known for being passionate and innovative makers of full-flavored beer.
  • Taste: It may be opinion, but craft beer enthusiasts report craft beer simply tastes better than mass produced, mass marketed beer brands.
  • More Alcohol: Craft beers come in many shapes and sizes, but one thing remains the same – they pack the punch! Most craft beers range from 5-10% alcohol by volume. Some craft beers can even reach 20%+ alcohol by volume.
  • Choices: With over 2,000 craft breweries across the country, there are literally thousands of delicious, flavorful craft beers to try!
  • Health Benefits: I questioned this one, but like red wine, craft beer does offer some health benefits (moderation is key). Craft beer contains soluble fiber, B vitamins, a range of antioxidants, and is also a rich source of silicon.

Craft Beer Market Segments

The craft beer industry is defined by 4 distinct market segments: microbreweries, brewpubs, contract brewing companies and regional craft breweries.

  • Microbrewery: A brewery that produces less than 15,000 barrels of beer per year with 75% or more of its beer sold off-site.
  • Brewpub: A restaurant-brewery that sells 25% or more of its beer on-site. The beer is brewed primarily for sale in the restaurant and bar.
  • Contract Brewing Company: A business that hires another brewery to produce its beer. It can also be a brewery that hires another brewery to produce additional beer. The contract brewing company handles marketing, sales, and distribution of its beer, while generally leaving the brewing and packaging to its producer-brewery.
  • Regional Brewery: A brewery with an annual beer production of between 15,000 and 6,000,000 barrels.
  • Regional Craft Brewery: An independent regional brewery who has either an all malt flagship or has at least 50% of its volume in either all malt beers or in beers which use adjuncts to enhance, rather than lighten, the flavor.

Craft beer distributors face uphill battles when it comes to distribution laws, and other post prohibition regulations, but American consumers continue to turn to craft beers. Whether it’s for taste, quality, alcohol content, health benefits, choices, or all five, we expect to see this food service segment to continue to grow through 2013.

Share your comments, what do you love about craft beer?

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Quick Service Restaurants Take on BREAKFAST!


Remember the saying, “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day?” Research shows this to be true, and it may help control Americans increasing problem with obesity. Aside from the health benefits of eating breakfast (which are all important), there is also a business opportunity for quick service restaurants.

According to QSR, nearly half of all American consumers visited a quick service restaurant for their morning meal last year. With that stat, the market has acknowledged breakfast is on the rise and quick service restaurants across the country are stepping up to meet the needs of their customers.

Consumers are on the go and looking for breakfast options that are portable, save money and save time. If you are the owner or manager of a quick serve restaurant thinking about offering a breakfast menu the future is definitely bright! During the 2007 economic downturn quick service restaurants increased breakfast menu options, which were positioned in the market to attract consumers that would otherwise eat breakfast at more expensive, full service restaurants.

The QSR also said, Subway added breakfast options in 2010, and has since been followed by Wendy’s and Taco Bell. Last year, breakfast sales totaled nearly $25.5 billion and are expected to see growth in the 2% range this year.

Adding a breakfast menu to an already existing quick serve restaurant operation can be easy for food service operators. Simply adding coffee and a few good food offerings, along with opening earlier, is all it takes. Research shows the breakfast sandwich is the most purchased breakfast food item, after coffee of course. Whether using biscuits, bread, buns, muffins, or tortillas, the sandwich leads the morning menu. Alternatively, one-third of breakfast consumers are opting for breakfast pastries, including cinnamon rolls, coffee cake, muffins, Danishes, and scones. All of these food options cater to portability, which is what consumers are looking for. And adding healthier breakfast options like oatmeal, fruit, or low-calorie breakfast bars will cater to the more health-conscious on-the-go consumer.

Convenience is king and breakfast items that are portable are predicted to continue to grow. Independent quick service restaurants in higher density populations should consider entering the breakfast market space. Independent restaurants can build loyalty through convenience, value, and service. Quick service restaurants that effectively market menus to meet what consumers are looking for will generate repeat business and thrive.

If you are an independent quick service restaurant and recently entered the breakfast market; let us know how it’s going for you; we would enjoy hearing your experience!

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Eating Utensils From Around The World

kitchen utensils. fork, knife and spoon

Hungry Planet, What the World Eats from award winning author, Peter Menzel profiles 30 families from 24 countries and the food they eat during the course of one week. I came across this book on Time and the pictures revealed amazing stories that got me thinking: beyond forks, spoons and even chopsticks, does everyone in the world use what we Americans consider normal eating utensils?

United States

Like many countries food is a big part of the American culture. The major utensils of an American place setting include a spoon, fork and knife. And modern, hybrid versions have been introduced to the market –  the most popular being the combination of the spoon and fork, the spork. And how about the sporf?  It’s a combination of the spoon, fork and knife. Or the spife, a combination of the spoon and knife.


Asian Chopsticks

Chopsticks are used as traditional eating utensils in China, Japan, Korea, and Vietnam. Chopsticks are most commonly made of wood, bamboo or plastic; however, in the United States, most are made out of wood. Chopsticks are held in the dominant hand, between the thumb and fingers, and used to pick up pieces of food.  You probably knew that part, but did you know there are different styles of chopsticks in different cultures?

  • Chinese: Chopsticks are longer (at about 25 cm), thicker (with squared or rounded sides), and end in either tips that are wide, blunt, flat or tapered.
  • Japanese: Shorter length chopsticks that taper to a finely pointed end. Japanese chopsticks are traditionally made of wood or bamboo and are lacquered. It is common for Japanese sticks to be of shorter length for women.
  • Korean: Chopsticks are medium-length with a small, flat rectangular shape. Traditionally, they were made of brass or silver, and ornately decorated at the grip.
  • Vietnamese: Long chopsticks that taper to a blunt point, quite like the Chinese style, and are traditionally lacquered wood or bamboo.
  • Nepali: Shorter and more blunt chopsticks that are usually made of bamboo.


India Hand Eating

Would it disgust you or fascinate you to find out in India most meals are eaten with hands?

Hands are the main utensil in India, but there’s still some manners set aside for proper eating etiquette. Traditionally, the right hand is used for scooping, eating and mixing, as the left is used for cleaning (wiping the right hand, the mouth, picking up crumbs, etc.) and is considered dirty.  A form of flat bread can also be used to scoop and soak up food.


Ethiopia Injera Flatbread

During a traditional Ethiopian meal, the food is served on a large piece of injera: a piece of flat-bread made from the grain teff. The injera itself serves as the plate and is used to scoop pieces of food up to the mouth. Ethiopian dining includes several rituals, like washing of hands before a formal meal and drink coffee at the table when the meal has ended.

Depending on what part of the world you’re visiting you may find yourself using forks, knives, spoons, fingers, chopsticks or injera to enjoy a meal. Dining etiquette will differ as much as the culture you may be visiting, so checking for cultural differences prior to vising a foreign country can save you the embarrassment of asking for the wrong utensil before it’s too late.

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Let’s Take a Bite of our Favorite Comfort Foods

Inventive cuisine has its place, but sometimes all you want is a hearty meal of your favorite comfort foods. There are certain feel-good foods Americans reach for when we need to be comforted – from creamy, cheesy macaroni and cheese to a steaming bowl of chicken noodle soup, even a quick and easy peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and of course an indulgent chicken pot pie.  Here’s a look at where these staple dishes originated from and why they have outlasted food trend after food trend.

Peanut Butter and Jelly

Peanut Butter & Jelly

Sky High Strawberry-Banana Peanut Butter and Jelly

We seem to be an in a food obsessed era, it’s no wonder we sometimes reach for foods that remind us of simpler, less stressful times. Earlier this month was National Peanut Butter & Jelly Day, which led me to wonder how did this simple, inexpensive sandwich earn its own dedicated day?

This childhood favorite was first introduced in the early 1900’s as a delicacy that was only served at the finest of tearooms. It wasn’t until 1986, when Good Housekeeping magazine published an article urging homemakers to use a meat grinder to make peanut butter and spread it onto bread did the sandwich start entering everyday American homes.

PB&J sandwiches are extremely popular with children; in fact, a 2002 survey revealed that the average American will have eaten 2,500 of these tasty sandwiches before graduating high school.

Macaroni and Cheese

AKA, mac and cheese, might be the ultimate comfort food. It’s hot, gooey texture, and delicious taste has even debuted on many, fancy restaurant menus.

Whose to credit for this American classic? Mary Randolph first released a mac and cheese recipe in her 1824 cookbook, The Virginia Housewife. Mass production of the main ingredients made this dish affordable, accessible and easy to make. Fast forward a few generations and packaged mac and cheese variations hit the market with great success. The United States gave mac and cheese its own day just like the peanut butter & jelly sandwich. Mark your calendar, July 14 has been branded “National Macaroni and Cheese Day!”

Chicken Pot Pie

The chicken pot pie is an American classic. Its rich, savory filling of chicken and vegetables makes this baked dish the perfect meal. When you take that first bite it provides a warming feeling that really satisfies an empty stomach. The pot pie is completely enclosed with a flaky crust and baked in a pie pan to support its shape. The chicken pot pie certainly isn’t the healthiest dish on our list, but this dreamy pie sure does hit the spot for many Americans.

It’s unknown when the dish was introduced to the United States but similar dishes date back hundreds of years in England and other parts of Europe.

Chicken Noodle Soup

A savory broth simmering with chicken, vegetables and noodles has been a classic dish for hundreds of years. Chicken noodle soup may remind you of a time when you were sick or surviving yet another cold winter day, but this all-time American classic has long been touted to help treat the common cold so it’s a perfect pairing.

In the 1930’s the Campbell Soup Company released a condensed version of this soup that helped it make it into millions of American households. Nutritionally chicken noodle soup is by far one of the healthiest comfort foods.

What do all of these foods have in common? All of them are modest, homemade, and in most instances, provide a warm, good feeling! Adding to that, it’s comforting to know that with all the trendy foods being introduced, and fad diets that are marketed, these foods remain the same year after year, generation after generation. We can all feel good about that!

And in case you didn’t notice, you can click on each of the photos above to be taken to the recipe that matches the photo – happy cooking!

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FOOD ALERT: Be Wary of These Controversial & Fake Foods

Turtle Soup

Americans have always invested an enormous amount of time and worry into what they eat. Every week there seems to be another menu item that is controversial and detested as unhealthy. Among the thousands of foods enjoyed by people from all over the world, here are a few that are considered to be the most controversial… fakes!

Fake Honey

Stroll through any supermarket in the US, and you’ll find a full display of shiny containers full of golden honey; however, according to Food Safety News, nearly 1/3 of that honey is likely to have been smuggled in from China – and laced with illegal and unsafe antibiotics. Knowing that the honey you buy is safe to eat is crucial for you and your family’s health.

Here are a few tips that I found for helping to sniff out the fakes:

  1. Check the label. Read the ingredients listed and check for additives. Any company selling honey is required to list any additives added – make sure you know exactly what’s listed on the label before you buy.
  2. Taste the honey. If it seems off, yet the label claims it’s pure, try the dissolving test to check for purity: Get a glass of water and one tablespoon of honey. Empty the honey into the water. If the honey is impure, it will dissolve in the water. If it is pure, the honey will stick together and sink as a solid clump to the bottom of the glass.

Fish Fakers

Mislabeled fish is also becoming a widespread problem. According to the US Food & Drug Administration, nearly 33% of fish purchased across the nation is not what it claims to be. Seafood fraud is not only hurting consumers pocket book, but also hurts honest vendors and fisherman throughout the supply chain.

  1. The biggest fake fish species being sold include cheaper fish like pollock and whiting – although they are being marked and sold as cod.
  2. Catfish has been found to be sold as grouper, while cod and tilapia are being sold as red snapper and salmon.
  3. Really impacting the consumer’s pocketbook is when cheaper, farm-raised fish is being substituted as wild caught fish.

The Taste Of Controversy

Environmentalists and animal rights activities alike are speaking up about these controversial foods.

Blue Fin Tuna is quickly being fished to extinction and has become a highly controversial food. Blue fin is highly prized by sushi chefs around the world. However, research has shown that Blue Fin has become extinct in the Black Sea and continues to be fished in a sustainable way in other parts of the world.

Turtle is considered a delicacy in Asia and Eastern US. Most commonly found in soup, the controversy around this food is that many of the species being harvested for human food are endangered. Aside from endangerment, turtle is usually seen as part of the ‘pet’ category rather than a food category.

Horse-meat is popular in Asia, Europe and South America, and over the past 5-10 years, horse-meat has quickly become more of an acceptable consumable meat worldwide. The controversy surrounding horse-meat is that many people see horses as pets or companions, rather than food. Farms producing horses specifically for the purpose of consumption are becoming more popular and are often compared to farms that raise cows and chickens.

Dolphin activists claim that the practices in catching dolphins are inhumane. Dolphins are caught, hooked, and gutted while still alive. Dolphin meat also contains more mercury than most fish, which is poisionous to humans.  Dolphin is another fish type that is often mislabeled and sold as another fish type.

Shark Fin, like Dolphin, is resulting in a declining population for sharks. The practice of shark finning is not regulated and is seen as very cruel, because in many cases live sharks are captured at sea, their fins cut off, and then they are returned to the sea fin-less.  The sharks often die because they can’t swim properly. Both the humane treatment of animal life and sustainability play a role with shark fin.

My findings in writing this article have led me down a road to ask:

  • Whose responsibility is it to regulate the foods that are being sold across the nation?
  • Does the consumer play a role in knowing where their food comes from and how it was raised or grown?

Your comments are welcome.

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How To Save On Toilet Paper & Other Paper Products

Americans use nearly 8 million tons of toilet paper a year! It’s no wonder toilet-paper manufacturers are plying consumers with more sheets, more layers, and even the added sanitation of wet wipes. As a restaurant owner or food service manager have you ever wondered if switching to green paper products is one area where you can save money?

Paper Product Waste

The claims that forests are being destroyed to make toilet paper, facial tissue, paper towels, and other disposable paper products. Seems a bit extreme, right? Whether you agree or disagree with this statement we can all agree that rethinking the way your restaurant buys and uses paper products helps your restaurant save money, as well as the environment. Using less paper helps trim your bottom line through cost-cutting and efficiency, while a restaurant recycling program can generate positive publicity for your business, giving your customers one more reason to dine at your restaurant.

Decrease Your Carbon Footprint With These Buying Tips

  1. Buy paper products with recycled content: Look for products with high recycled content, including post-consumer content. Post-consumer fibers are recovered from paper that was previously used by consumers and would otherwise be dumped into a landfill.
  2. Purchase paper products made from clean manufacturing processes: Traditional paper products are bleached to make them whiter and brighter, but the chlorine that is used in this process contribute to the formation of harmful chemicals that wind up in the air and water, and are highly toxic to people and fish. Key terms to look for when shopping for these items:
    1. TCF: Totally Chlorine-Free
    2. PCF: Processed Chlorine-Free.

The STATS Are In

  • If every box of virgin facial tissues was replaced with a 100% recycled box, 163,000 trees would be saved.
  • If just one roll of virgin toilet paper was replaced with a 100% recycled roll, 423,900 trees would be saved.
  • If just one roll of virgin paper towels was replaced with a 100% recycled roll, 544,000 trees would be saved.
  • If just one package of virgin napkins was replaced with 100% recycled ones, 1,000,000 trees would be saved.

*According to the

Save Your Restaurant Money – Starting Today

  • Invest in one-at-a-time napkin dispensers – helps customers take only what they need.
  • Install hand dryers in restrooms – this eliminates the need for paper towels.
  • Stock bathrooms with only enough toilet paper for one day – you don’t want your back stock disappearing!
  • Consider going digital with receipts.
  • Implement a recycling program to cut-down on unneeded waste.
  • Buy paper products in bulk.

Making small changes, like buying 100% PCF [processed chlorine free] paper products, is not only affordable, but takes up to 45% less energy to produce than traditional paper products.

Going green around your restaurant can go beyond just paper products. Investing in CFL or LED lights may cost a little more up front, but will last much longer than traditional light bulbs. Do you have outdated equipment in your kitchen? Manufactures offer energy star rated equipment pieces that will run much more efficiently.

We understand running a restaurant is expensive, but making a few changes can add dollars to your bottom line.

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What Are Americans Snacking On?

Veggie SnacksAmericans love to snack! It’s seems like a lifetime ago that snacks were reserved as ‘special treats’. Not anymore, a study conducted by the Hartman Group found that Americans are consuming, on average, 2.3 snacks per day. I set out to find when Americans snack, what they consume when they snack, why they snack, and if this snacking is a trend or here to stay.

When Do Americans Snack?

Food has become part of every occasion in the United States from birthday parties to office meetings, the opportunity to snack is everywhere. According to the study by the Hartman Group:

  • More than 41% of American adults enjoy at least two snacks per day
  • While 24% of them have at least three snacks per day
  • Followed by 17% having only one snack per day
  • Most snacking occurs in the afternoon, evening and late-night hours

Why Do Americans Snack?

According to the Hartman study, 28% of adults snack because they want to enjoy an indulgent treat while 27% snack on impulse. Others snack because they feel stressed or anxious, or simply don’t feel like cooking or preparing a meal. However, additional research has shown that 36% of consumers who snack have healthier eating habits than consumers who do not snack as all.

So, Snacking Is Healthy?

And early research is showing that contrary to conventional wisdom, the more consumers snack, the healthier their eating behaviors are. In today’s fast paced world, consumer’s view snacking as one way to improve healthy eating habits. Consumers identify fruit, yogurt, and nutritional bars as their top picks for healthy snacks. Nutritionists recommend snacks including: edamame, hard boiled eggs, dried nuts and fruits and smoothies.

Is Snacking Here To Stay?

The verdict is in and snacking is here to stay! QSRWeb named ‘snacks’ as one of the top quick service restaurant trends for 2012, while the NRA named “half portions and small portions at low prices” as a top trend for 2013. Healthy snacks can actually help stabilize blood sugar levels, making it easier to curb consumer cravings at meal times.

With snack food brands including, Nabisco, Doritos, and Lays investing millions of dollars a year advertising their brands, snacking will continue to grow. Consumer response to snack foods is positive: snacking, when done in moderation, can help manage their hunger, weight, and energy levels.

One out of every five eating occasions in the United States is a snack, with more than half of all Americans eating 2 snacks per day – make your food choices count! Healthy snacking can lead to a healthier and happier lifestyle!

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Is it a Scoop? Or is it a Disher?

DisherIt’s Both!

These portion-controlled kitchen tools are referred to as dishers in the food service industry, but to the rest of the cooking community they are more commonly referred to as ice cream scoops.

Dishers are more commonly used for dishing ice cream, but also work well for scooping cookie dough, creating truffles, portioning-off muffin or cupcake batter, serving a variety of entrée sides and much more. And because they come in a variety of sizes and styles, they have come to be an essential tool in the food service industry for quick, easy, and accurate food prep.

How Do You Choose a Disher?

Dishers measure portions. Traditionally, dishers are sized by the number of scoops per quart, but may also be sized by ounces, the diameter of the bowl, or the number of tablespoons they hold. We’ve created a couple of reference guides to help you find exactly what you’re looking for.

Standard Duty Color Coded Dishers

  • Standard Duty
  • Stainless Steel Scoop Bowl
  • Color Coded Handles


Item No.


Cap. [oz]

Dia. [in]


85-280 6 4 2/3 3 White
85-281 8 4 2 3/4 Gray
85-282 10 3 3/4 2 5/8 Ivory
85-283 12 3 1/4 2 1/2 Green
85-284 16 2 3/4 2 1/4 Blue
85-285 20 2 2 1/8 Yellow
85-286 24 1 3/4 2 Red
85-287 30 1 1/4 1 7/8 Black
85-288 40 8-Jul 1 5/8 Orchid


Heavy Duty Color Codes Dishers

  • Heavy Duty
  • Stainless Steel Scoop Bowl
  • Color Coded Handles

Item No.


Cap. [oz]

Dia. [in]


85-490 6 5 1/3 3 1/8 White
85-491 8 4 2 13/16 Gray
85-492 10 3 1/4 2 5/8 Ivory
85-493 12 2  2/3 2  7/16 Green
85-494 16 2 2  3/16 Blue
85-495 20 1 5/8 2 Yellow
85-496 24 1 1/3 1 7/8 Red
85-497 30 1 1 3/4 Black
85-498 40 3/4 1  9/16 Orchid


Squeeze Type Dishers

  • Squeeze Dishers Are Manufactured For Right & Left Hand Use
  • Stainless Steel Scoop Bowl
  • Heavy Duty Construction

Item No.


Cap. [oz]

Dia. [in]

85-460 6 4 1/2 3
85-461 8 4 2 3/4
85-462 10 3 3/4 2 5/8
85-463 12 3 1/4 2 1/2
85-464 16 2 3/4 2 1/4
85-465 20 2 1/2 2 1/8
85-466 24 1 3/4 2
85-467 30 1 1/4 1 7/8
85-468 40 7/8 1 3/4
85-472 50 5/8 1 1/2
85-469 60 9/16 1  7/16
85-470 70 1/2 1 3/8
85-471 100 3/8 1 1/4


Next time you’re whipping up a batch of decadent cupcakes, famous chocolate chip cookies, or serving flavorful ice cream try using a disher – these practical scoops are a sure way to make sure your food presentation is impressive!

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Restaurant Designs From Jeff Katz & The Tundra Design Group

Frasca in Boulder, ColoradoThe Tundra Design Group is a talented team that provides design services to owners, operators, developers, and design professionals involved in restaurant, hotel and resort food service facilities worldwide.

With restaurants including Frasca, Mountain Standard Vail, The Kitchen and Hapa Sushi on his resume, Jeff Katz has perfected the art and science of restaurant design. I recently sat down Katz, Vice President of Tundra Design Service, to learn the latest from him on his teams recent design projects.

Katz and his team designed, planned and completed kitchen and restaurant designs across the country, their impressive list includes:

  • Northside Coffee & Kitchen is nestled in the famous Vail Valley. Northside specializes in breakfast and flavorsome coffees not to mention they offer the only donuts in town! Northside offers a full bar and extended menu in the evenings.
  • Mountain Standard Vail is a fresh, pioneering restaurant. This rustic and relaxed tavern aims to set a new standard in the Vail valley by using an ancient form of cooking via the most primal cooking methods: over an open and live wood fire.
  • 5 Star Burgers combines gourmet burgers with some of the best wines and beers. With locations in New Mexico, Colorado and Missouri, USA Today recently rated 5 Star Burgers as one of the best burger restaurants in the country.
  • Pizzeria Locale is a contemporary pizzeria inspired by traditional pizzerias of Naples, Italy. Located on the trendy Pearl Street in downtown Boulder, Colorado, Pizzeria Locale is quickly becoming a foodie favorite.
  • Amante Coffee is the exclusive North American importer of Ghigo family coffee, the most popular coffee and espresso in Northern Italy. Based in Boulder, Colorado Amante is committed to bringing a piece of ‘old world’ charm to its customers. Amante offers a sleek yet comfortable ambiance.
  • Hapa Sushi has four convenient locations in the Denver Metro area where you can always satisfy your sushi cravings. Hapa’s menu is based on traditional Japanese cooking fundamentals, which are then amplified, muted, or mixed with influences from many different styles of cooking until they are something completely new.
  • The Kitchen is a community based restaurant where they are committed to environmentally-friendly practices and working with local farmers and ranchers.
  • Ace Restaurant is a Ping-Pong hall, fostering social gatherings, playfulness and healthy competition. Ace serves Asian inspired dishes that encourage sharing, drinking and hanging out.
  • Frasca Food & Wine is a neighborhood restaurant that is inspired by the cuisine and culture of Friuli, Italy. Frasca has continuously been ranked No. 1 by 5280’s Top 25 Restaurants to dine in the Denver Metro area.

Jeff Katz and his team choose projects that inspire, imagine and create tantalizing dining experiences. Whether they are creating a local neighborhood burger restaurant or designing a five-star fine dining experience, once you visit a Katz restaurant you not only see the difference, you can feel it.


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What are Restaurant Consumers Spending Money On?

Restaurant ConsumersAccording to the National Restaurant Association (NRA), food service sales are expected to hit a record $660B this year! Consumers are spending money in all areas of food service, which is great news if you’re a traditional restaurant owner, quick-service restaurant operator, caterer or bar and tavern owner. The food service industry will not only be serving up delicious food for consumers to enjoy the NRA also predicts the food service industry will outpace the overall economy job growth.

Consumers Are Looking for Technology

Quick-service restaurants and caterers will fuel much of the commercial restaurant sector, and bars and taverns will follow a close second. Restaurants are always looking to satisfy the needs of consumers, and leveraging new technologies, including mobile order ability, mobile reservations and mobile payments, are on the top of consumers’ minds when choosing a place to dine.

Culinary Trends Driving Consumer Spending

In addition to technology, culinary trends will also drive consumer decision making when it comes to choosing a restaurant. Locally sourced meats, seafood and produce are – once again – on the list of top culinary trends predicted by chefs of the NRA. Kids nutrition also remains a priority as restaurants act to take a role in stemming the tide of childhood obesity. Gluten-free and allergy conscious menus are hot this year – with more and more consumers becoming educated on what they eat. Along the lines of locally sourced foods, environmental sustainability placed 4th on the ‘What’s Hot in 2013’ forecast.

Beverage experts in the food service industry predict barrel-aged drinks, food pairings with cocktail or liquor and ‘culinary’ cocktails featuring fresh ingredients will drive growth. Locally produced spirits and micro-distilled liquors are also expected to be popular in 2013.

As the economy continues to recover, consumers are starting to spend more money, but they are becoming more and more clear on what they want from their dining experience. They may be hungry or ready to go out on the town, but they are also very aware that they can make a choice where they want to spend that money. Creativity, innovation and a technology driven mindset will attract new and (help keep) existing consumers.

It is up to your restaurant to make the change to peak their interest – are you ready?

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