- Front Page
- Biz Tools
The Franchise Owner's most trusted news source
Danny Meyer wants restaurants to raise menu prices.
But he doesn’t mean that as some form of collusion. The New York City-based restaurateur and founder of Union Square Hospitality Group, or USHG, made the comment during a conversation with OpenTable CEO Christa Quarles at a conference hosted by the technology company in Los Angeles on Monday.
Meyer made the point that over the past two decades, the restaurant industry has successfully convinced consumers to pay a bit more for better food, like vegetables that are raised locally or organically, or meat raised humanely without antibiotics.
But now, restaurants are afraid to raise menu prices to accommodate higher wages, Meyer said.
“We’re so afraid of raising prices to cover costs, and we’re so afraid people will stop eating in our restaurants,” he said. “But I don’t see why we’re afraid to say that people are just as important as plants or animals.”
Meyer is a long-time advocate of the hospitality-included model of menu pricing, which eliminates tips and is now applied at six restaurants within USHG. In time, all of the group’s restaurants will transition to the no-tipping model, he said.
That move has resulted in menu price increases, but Meyer contends it’s actually more honest pricing for the consumer. For too long, he said, consumers have been trained to consider prices without adding the inevitable 18- to 20-percent gratuity that comes at the end of the meal.
“The tipping system has created a false sense of what pricing is,” he said.
Other restaurant operators, meanwhile, have “turned themselves into pretzels” trying to cope with higher labor costs by adding administrative fees or supplemental fees for healthcare as a line on the bill, he said.
“But, when your rent goes up, you wouldn’t put in an extra line for rent,” Meyer said. “It’s a cost increase.”
Meyer was an early investor in OpenTable and a board member before the tech company was acquired by Priceline three years ago.
USHG, meanwhile, continues to grow. The group most recently opened the casual eatery and coffee shop Daily Provisions, adjacent to the newly reopened Union Square Cafe in New York.
Daily Provisions doesn’t take reservations, Meyer said. It also doesn’t take cash. And it’s the first restaurant within the group to use Square for payment.
The concept not only strives to serve dishes that are delicious, but they must also be Instagram worthy, he said.
Meanwhile, USHG has signed on to develop the dining options for a seven-acre mixed-use development in Washington, D.C., called Capitol Crossing, scheduled for completion in 2020.
The group will develop at least one concept for the project, and possibly more, but will curate others, Meyer said. The idea of opening a second location of Union Square Cafe there has been discussed, but no decision has been made, he said.
In New York, the group plans to open an as-yet-unnamed restaurant on the 65th floor of the 28 Liberty Street tower, with 360-degree, unobstructed views of the Manhattan skyline and surrounding boroughs, he said.
Typically, restaurants with a fabulous view become high-ticket experiences that attempt to live up to the location, Meyer said.
But he aims to break that rule, instead developing a 90-seat concept that will be as affordable as those at street level, where people could dine multiple times per week. The location will also include a banquet space and bar.
“It will be a down-to-earth restaurant with an up-in-the-sky location,” he said.
Contact Lisa Jennings at email@example.com
Follow her on Twitter: @livetodineout
Rich, fatty tuna belly, or toro, is considered the ultimate sushi ingredient, and has long been a staple on sushi restaurant menus. Now, this delicate and flavorful cut of fish is catching on with non-sushi chefs who are serving it as crudo, in tacos, in sauces and more.
According to Datassential Menu Trends, fish belly, which includes varieties like salmon belly, tuna belly, yellowfin belly, albacore belly and hamachi belly, appears on 1 percent of all restaurant menus, with 5-percent growth in the last year. That growth is largely coming from the fine-dining segment, where fish belly now appears on about 4 percent of menus.
“With the influence of Asian cuisine, the whole-animal push … it’s pretty prevalent,” said Dolan Lane, executive chef at Red Star Tavern in Portland, Ore. “You may not get a lot of product [from the belly], but it’s something chefs can have fun with.”Crudo made with hamachi belly at Red Star Tavern in Portland, OR. Photo: Red Star Tavern
At Red Star Tavern, Lane is making crudo dishes with hamachi belly, and sometimes striped bass belly. While Lane uses all parts of the fish for his crudo, he also reserves some precious belly meat for serving as a special, as an amuse-bouche or for guests he knows personally. At the moment, he is serving hamachi crudo with ruby red grapefruit, endive, castlevetrano olives and housemade potato chips dusted with dehydrated lime salt.
At Oyster Bah, in Chicago, sous chef Donny Farrell is testing a smoked salmon belly dish as part of an upcoming wine dinner. For the dinner, Farrell plans to cure the salmon belly in a mixture of coriander, fennel seed, sugar, salt and vodka, and then smoke it before serving it with radish, fresh basil and a blood orange gastrique.
“We’ve been saving salmon bellies for a while,” Farrell said. “[We’re] starting to play with it, see how they like it.”
Similarly, chef John Melfi of The Oval Room is serving smoked salmon belly with ruby red grapefruit, cucumber, hearts of palm, whipped horseradish, olive oil croutons and spring distillate. The distillate is a foam made from a non-alcoholic gin that Melfi describes as having the flavor of English peas, mint and cucumber.
“We usually have several crudo on our menu, and usually one of them is a belly, because they are highly marbled and yield a lot of flavor, and it’s good not to have any waste,” Melfi said.
At Outlier, in Seattle, executive chef Shawn Applin is capitalizing on the region’s abundance of salmon by serving beet-cured wild salmon belly with dill cream cheese, cucumber, shaved fennel and pickled mustard seeds.
In Hawaii, the locals eat ahi tuna belly at home sautéed or served over rice, said Ben Takahashi, chef at The Club at Kukui’ula, in Kauai, Hawaii.
“Locally, it’s everybody’s favorite comfort food,” Takahashi said.
At the club restaurant, Takahashi often gets whole ahi tuna and uses the fatty belly to make spicy tuna rolls. He also likes the flavor of other fish bellies as well. For example, he is using opah belly in his “fresh catch fish tacos.”
For the tacos, he cuts the belly meat into rectangular strips, dips them in a traditional taco spice mix and sears them until crisp. He serves the belly inside corn tortillas with shaved cabbage, lime crema and a side of guacamole and pico de gallo.
Doug Psaltis, executive chef and partner at RPM Steak, in Chicago, gets a whole farm-raised blue fin tuna from Mexico once a week and uses it nose to tail, including the belly. He serves as a special the “prized possession” of the blue fin tuna with fresh wasabi and black garlic shoyu.
Meanwhile, at Bibiana, in Washington, D.C., executive chef Jake Addeo uses fish belly in Moleche, his twist on the classic Italian veal tonnato, made with pan-fried Maryland soft-shell crabs, early spring greens and a creamy tonnato sauce made with slow-cooked and confited preserved tuna belly, as well as anchovies, duck egg yolks, olive oil, Dijon mustard, lemon juice and sumac.
Yum Brands Inc. on Tuesday said that it has promoted Kevin Hochman to president and chief concept officer at KFC in the U.S.
The promotion is effective immediately. Hochman, who had been chief marketing officer for KFC’s largest market, succeeds Jason Marker, who had held the position since 2015, and who, KFC said, resigned “to pursue other opportunities.”
“Kevin Hochman is an exceptional brand builder and marketing innovation leader with an extremely strong track record of success,” Yum Brands CEO Greg Creed said in a statement.
“He has led KFC’s incredible brand re-launch and brought back the greatest chicken salesman in the world, Colonel Sanders, to pop culture. He’s the perfect person to continue to grow and elevate KFC U.S. into a distinctive, relevant brand that people trust and champion.”
Hochman joined KFC U.S. as chief marketing officer more than three years ago, and has been given considerable credit for the company’s marketing prowess in recent years — notably the Sanders campaign, which has generated buzz at the company, using several actors playing in the Sanders role.
The ads have been credited for helping improve the chain’s sales. Same-store sales at KFC in the U.S. have increased for 10 straight quarters.
Hochman had previously worked at Procter & Gamble in a number of brand management and marketing leadership roles since 1995.
“He has played a key role in the Re-Colonelization effort — driving structural thinking, collaborative franchise relationships, great brand positioning and excellent advertising — which has contributed to the brand’s turnaround in the U.S.,” Roger Eaton, CEO of KFC Global, said in a statement.
Marker had been with Yum Brands since 2003, and with KFC U.S. since 2011. The company and its franchisees had given Marker considerable credit for the brand’s domestic turnaround following years of sales weakness and store closures.
“I want to thank Jason Marker for his strong leadership and the many contributions he has made to Yum Brands and KFC U.S. over the years and wish him continued success,” Eaton said.
Contact Jonathan Maze at firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow him on Twitter: @jonathanmaze
IHOP's menu additions include Cinnamon Roll French Toast, Red Velvet French Toast and Sticky Bun Waffles. KFC touts its Georgia Gold Honey Mustard BBQ Chicken. Learn how to make The Cheesecake Factory's Eggplant Parmesan at home. With over 20 fresh ingredients, you’ll never find a microwave in Moe’s. McDonald’s Executive Chef Dan Coudreaut takes us back to the birthplace of the Egg McMuffin.