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Menu Feed

Menu Feed

By Menu Feed
“Menu Feed” is a biweekly podcast brought to you by Restaurant Business and FoodService Director.
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How ghost kitchen 2 Korean Girls is growing a fan base one bowl at a time
Jennifer and Michele Kaminski are sisters and cofounders of 2 Korean Girls, a ghost kitchen that opened in Miami during the pandemic. The two had been planning the virtual concept for three years, offering a menu of delivery-friendly Korean-style bowls in an area devoid of Korean restaurants. Their mom, Sunny, owns a Korean restaurant in Indiana and helped the pair develop the menu, but her daughters added modern, whimsical touches to the recipes, like a heart-shaped egg on top of their best-selling bibimbap. Renowned Florida chef Allen Susser serves as their mentor and consultant—a vital member of the team for novice entrepreneurs, say the Kaminskis. Listen as they talk about their take on Korean food, cultivating digital hospitality and growing 2 Korean Girls into the future.
July 15, 2021
How Smokey Bones diversifies the menu to please many palates and control meat costs
Peter Farrand, chief food and beverage innovation officer at Smokey Bones, felt that customers needed a little more variety to complement the restaurant’s signature barbecue items. So he diversified the menu, creating what he calls a “protein candy store,” where guests have the choice of many different cuts, global flavor profiles and formats. He also added more seafood choices and a veggie burger, as well as helped develop two virtual brands that provide additional platforms for experimentation. Listen as Farrand describes Smokey Bones’ new culinary direction and shares how he is controlling costs and managing supply, with meat prices and sourcing challenges on the rise.
July 1, 2021
How Passavant Community engages senior-living residents with menu innovation and creative connections
Passavant Community is a senior-living complex in Zelienople, Pa., managed by Cura Hospitality, an Elior company. General Manager Barbara Ferguson, a former fine-dining chef, oversees Passavant’s dining program, which includes restaurants, retail outlets, catering and Cura’s newest initiative—Fresh at Home meal kits. Listen as she describes the impact of this initiative and many of the other innovations she’s launched at the retirement community to engage both staff and residents.
June 17, 2021
How Piada Italian Street Food puts a ‘chef’s touch’ on every menu item
Piada Italian Street Food takes its name from the piada, a flatbread dough that’s baked on a stone grill and hand-rolled with a variety of fresh, authentic fillings. But Matthew Harding, senior VP and culinary director for the 38-location fast casual, has taken the menu way beyond its namesake. Chef Harding trains his teams to make sure every dish leaves the line with a “chef’s touch.” Listen as he shares how Piada is expanding into new markets with a new footprint and how he continues to innovate the menu as the fast-casual concept grows.
June 3, 2021
How The Melt Shop evolves its menu in sync with today’s tastes
The Melt Shop grew from a concept serving best-of-class grilled cheese sandwiches and melts to offer fried chicken, mac and cheese, and wings. Throughout the brand’s growth, new menu extensions had to fit founder and CEO Spencer Rubin’s basic criteria: How do we “Melt Shopify” it with big, bold flavors and other points of differentiation? Listen as Rubin talks about The Melt Shop’s evolution and how he is growing and positioning the concept for a post-pandemic world.
May 20, 2021
How Lazy Dog Restaurant & Bar is blazing a trail in casual dining
Chris Simms is founder and CEO of Lazy Dog Restaurant & Bar, a casual-dining chain with 39 locations. Simms and his team strive to make Lazy Dog the “next generation of casual dining” by delivering a unique experience through its menu mix, ambience and hospitality.
May 6, 2021
How Culver’s evolves its menu while staying true to a core of customer favorites
Culver’s has grown from a Wisconsin chain of family-owned quick-service restaurants to an 800-unit brand with locations in 25 states. Director of Menu Development Quinn Adkins joined Culver’s in 2015, helping to drive that growth with slow but steady menu innovation. Listen as Adkins talks about Culver’s longtime mission of partnering with Wisconsin farmers and how he brings culinary flair to a quick-service menu.
April 15, 2021
How Another Broken Egg wins the breakfast, brunch and lunch crowd with a craveable menu
Another Broken Egg, a breakfast, brunch and lunch chain with 75 locations, boasts a seasonally driven menu with a balance of indulgent and healthy dishes. Vice President of Culinary Jason Knoll shares his strategy for creating crowd-pleasing dishes by listening to guests and incorporating their feedback. He focuses on signatures consumers can’t easily make at home and pays equal attention to the beverage side, crafting cocktails and juices that reflect the flavors and ingredients that drive the food menu.
April 1, 2021
How Just Salad keeps innovating the menu while moving its sustainability mission forward
During the last year, Just Salad continued to prioritize menu innovation by launching warm bowls, introducing marinated chicken thighs as a protein option and creating meal kits for consumers cooking at home. Jhonny Castro, culinary director of the 42-unit fast casual, describes his culinary journey from the prep line to head chef, collaborating with the Just Salad team to set the health-focused fast casual apart from its competitors.
March 18, 2021
How Bartaco refreshes the beverage menu in tune with its Mexican beach vibe
Bartaco’s Mexican beach vibe attracts a lively crowd drawn by the brand’s fresh, made-to-order drinks and authentic tacos. During the pandemic, Beverage Director Nicole Quist launched a successful cocktails-to-go program—a challenge to put in place across 20 locations in 11 states with different sets of regulations. Listen as she shares her excitement about the beverage program at Bartaco.
March 4, 2021
How Chicago’s Avec continues to evolve while staying true to its roots
Avec has built a large following with its inspired small plates menu and welcoming vibe, or what chef Perry Hendrix refers to “as the dinner party you’d like to throw in your own home.” Hendrix transitioned the concept into a fast-casual rotisserie during the pandemic, serving up Middle Eastern-influenced roast chickens and sides. Listen as Hendrix talks about the iconic restaurant’s evolution, menu and future.
February 18, 2021
How Mighty Quinn’s menus authentic barbecue in an urban fast-casual setting
It’s not easy to offer authentic pit-smoked barbecue in New York City and other urban centers, but Mighty Quinn’s has found a winning formula. During the last year, the restaurants did a brisk off-premise business, and are especially busy when events like the Super Bowl are on the calendar. Listen as co-founder Christos Gourmos talks about how Mighty Quinn’s differentiates its menu with low-and-slow cooking technique and inspired side dishes, and how he is positioning the fast casual for growth.
February 4, 2021
How Cura Hospitality’s senior-dining program is building on 2020’s successes
The company’s dining programs have a strong focus on regionality, wellness and contemporary culinary trends, with menus that “make the healthy choice, the easy choice.” Listen as Eric Goldberg, corporate executive chef for Cura Hospitality, shares his ideas for successful senior dining and talks about how innovations that came out of the pandemic are powering the program forward. .
January 21, 2021
How Gumption Coffee differentiates itself to compete with the giant brands
Gumption Coffee, an independent coffee shop and roastery in New York City, has its roots in Australia. Cofounder and partner Hazel de los Reyes brought the concept to New York two years ago, first setting up a roasting facility in Brooklyn’s Industry City, then opening a cafe in Manhattan this past fall. Listen as she talks about her quest to source, roast and brew the best beans, the “gumption” required to open her first U.S. cafe during a global pandemic and how she positions Gumption as an accessible but differentiated coffee experience.
January 7, 2021
How Torchys Tacos created a ‘craft-casual’ niche in the competitive fast-casual space
Torchys Tacos began as a food truck, selling elevated street tacos throughout Austin, Texas. The chain has now grown to 83 brick-and-mortar locations, but authenticity, creativity and providing “a damn good experience” are still at the heart of the concept, says CMO Scott Hudler. Listen as he shares how Torchys stays true to its mission while providing the speed, convenience and value of a fast-casual restaurant.
December 17, 2020
How First Watch’s Shane Schaibly is evolving and energizing the menu for 2021
Chef Shane Schaibly initially came to First Watch to push the culinary envelope, elevating the food to meet the brand’s level of service and design. As VP of culinary strategy for the full-service breakfast and brunch chain, he has since evolved the brand and its menu, introducing a fresh juice program across 400 locations, pioneering on-trend items such as avocado toast and elote, and launching a batch cocktail program.
December 3, 2020
How Gibsons corporate chef is crafting menus for success amid COVID-19
In recent months, Dan Huebschmann has had to adapt to outdoor dining, curbside takeout and more.
November 19, 2020
How Bob Raymond puts his ‘crazy ideas’ to work at Commonwealth Senior Living
Bob Raymond, vice president of Procurement and Dining Services for Commonwealth Senior Living, isn’t afraid to experiment with what he admits can be “crazy ideas.” From hydroponic microfarms installed in the dining rooms, to using robots to bus tables and deliver mail, this innovative thinker is putting his ideas into action at Commonwealth’s 35 communities.
November 5, 2020
How Market Tavern’s blend of British pub food and rock ‘n’ roll is the right vibe for these times
Listen as chef-partner Brendan Collins describes how he created a British gastropub menu infused with California spirit that lures customers, especially with his unique take on Sunday Roast—the U.K. tradition of enjoying roasted meat and hearty sides with friends and family on Sunday afternoons.
October 15, 2020
How a farm-to-kitchen scratch menu elevates casual dining at Whiskey Cake
Aaron Staudenmaier brings years of fine-dining experience to his role as concept chef for Whiskey Cake Kitchen & Bar, a growing casual-dining chain based in Texas. His cooking focuses on ingredients from local ranchers, farmers and artisans and flavor-infused techniques—with some whimsical touches thrown in. Listen as chef Staudenmaier shares how he strives to create “revved up” American dishes that set chain’s menu apart and position it for growth.
October 1, 2020
How an innovative chef is taking comfort foods to the next level
Matthew Osolin translates his culinary passion into crowd-pleasing dinners without overtaxing the kitchen.
September 17, 2020
How a Louisiana restaurant honors deep-rooted traditions through its menu and community outreach
Toups' Meatery chef-owner Isaac Toups was born and raised in Louisiana, and his family has roots in the two sides of Cajun cuisine—Prairie Cajun and Coastal Cajun. Listen as he shares how those two styles infuse his menu and hospitality, and how the resilience of the New Orleans community is a constant inspiration.
September 3, 2020
How Morrison Living is navigating the ‘next normal’ in senior dining
Listen as chef Adam Grafton relates how a close relationship with his grandparents inspired him to forge a connection with seniors, and how he sees endless opportunities for innovation in senior dining.
August 20, 2020
How chef Ahktar Nawab touches every corner of the industry with restaurants, food halls and more
Restaurateur Ahktar Nawab started his culinary journey 25 years ago, working his way up in restaurant kitchens to behind the stove at New York City’s renowned Gramercy Tavern and Craft. Listen as Nawab shares how the ups and downs of his career are helping him cope with the pandemic, plan new projects and remain optimistic about the future.
August 6, 2020
How chef Sarah Stegner has built strong community ties to keep Prairie Grass Cafe thriving
Chef Sarah Stegner opened Prairie Grass Cafe 15 years ago in Northbrook, Ill., establishing a deep local connection with customers and farmers. Listen as chef Stegner talks about the creative initiatives she and her team have launched and how her focus on taste recognition has solidified her restaurant’s identity.
July 16, 2020
How a chef engages customers with unique at-home dining experiences
Seattle restaurant Addo has been closed to dine-in business since March, but chef-owner Eric Rivera has channeled his creativity into creating interactive at-home experiences. Listen as chef Rivera shares how he is moving takeout into a whole new dimension.
July 2, 2020
Brethren Village Retirement Community engages residents with takeout and delivery innovations
Innovative menus and packaging, themed pop-ups, videos and more kept residents engaged and well-fed. Listen as Brethren Village General Manager Rick Chambers shares some of those creative ideas.
June 19, 2020
How restaurant brand Chick N Max is keeping guests engaged
Founder Max Sheets shares the ways the fast casual has built a loyal fan base and kept employees and guests engaged during COVID-19.
May 29, 2020
How comfort food, convenience and value are powering Fazoli’s through the pandemic and beyond
Fazoli's CEO outlines the strategies that have kept the chain ahead of the curve during the COVID-19 health crisis.
May 15, 2020
How a fast-casual chicken concept is changing its menu and marketing to keep guests engaged
Listen as Field Failing, founder and CEO of Fields Good Chicken, shares strategies for differentiating the chicken menu and building a loyal fan base.
May 1, 2020
How independent restaurant Saigon Sisters is adapting to the coronavirus crisis
Listen as Mary Nguyen Aregoni, chef-owner of Saigon Sisters, shares the creative strategies she has developed.
April 17, 2020
How the Lettuce Entertain You team is meeting the coronavirus challenge
R.J. Melman shares the creative new ideas his restaurant group has put into action.
April 3, 2020
How Aloha Poke diversified its menu to boost traffic and sales
The brand's CEO, Chris Birkinshaw, shares his strategies for scaling up.
March 20, 2020
How restaurant trends are impacting dining in senior living
Expert insights from Technomic and Restaurant Business reveal how foodservice is changing in retirement communities.
March 6, 2020
How Corner Bakery stays on top of the trends as consumer needs change
CMO Donna Josephson offers insights on menu evolution, the labor challenge and more.
February 21, 2020
How Spanish tapas restaurant Boqueria is evolving its menu as it grows
With four locations in New York and two in Washington, D.C., Boqueria recently made a move to Chicago, opening its first outpost in the Midwest. Listen as Yann de Rochefort, Boqueria’s founder and CEO, talks about how the seasonally rotating menu of tapas, paella and drinks aims to reflect local markets.
February 7, 2020
How senior living menus are shifting
Learn how four experienced senior living chefs are changing up their menus to accommodate the tastes of younger residents.
January 17, 2020
How Ocean Prime is changing up the menu to meet today’s dining style
Ocean Prime, an upscale seafood and steak concept in Cameron Mitchell Restaurants’ portfolio, stays on trend by frequently refreshing the menu. Listen as Ian Rough, Ocean Prime’s corporate chef, and Jason Shelley, executive chef at the Chicago location, describe how they are keeping up with the tastes of today’s diners.
January 3, 2020
What food trends are on tap for 2020?
Hear which dishes and flavors experts predict will take off in the coming months.
December 13, 2019
How Galit’s seasonal menu expands diners’ vision of Middle Eastern food
Partners Zach Engel and Andres Clavero talk about how they have created a Chicago destination that retains its neighborhood vibe.
December 2, 2019
How fast casual Antique Taco found success with catering
Founders Ashley and Rick Ortiz share how their Chicago concept is getting a piece of $65 billion catering market.
November 15, 2019