Posts Tagged ‘healthy choices’

Healthy Menu Innovations

May 9, 2012

Does the restaurant industry have a responsibility to address health issues when designing a menu?  Perhaps not, however, faced with a growing interest in healthier menu choices among customers, smart companies are making changes.


At least by perception, fast food restaurants are the worst offenders.  In fact, research shows that 60% of American’s are less than thrilled with their lunch choices.  Often the culprit is limited time.  This is a market to be tapped by forward thinking chains.


Arby’s now offers a Market Fresh Pecan Chicken Salad Sandwich and wrap.  This can be nutritionally improved by selecting whole-grain flat bread or honey wheat bread.  McDonald’s has made apples standard in their kid’s meals.  KFC even started serving roasted chicken rather than fried.


Often the solution is simple portion control.  When diners eat at upscale restaurants, they don’t expect large portions, they expect quality.  By offering smaller meals under more appealing labels, fast food restaurants may appeal to those who would prefer more nutritious options.


Of course, no matter how many options fast food restaurants provide, most customers will still choose foods they know are not healthy.  Lower salt and fat requirements mandated by the government is unlikely to make much of a difference.  The British Medical Journal showed that only one in six diners pay any attention to posted calorie and fat stats on menus.


Salt is the newest target to face criticism at restaurants.  As the flavor of salt is difficult to mimic, reduction of salt may be particularly hard to achieve, but the industry seems committed to make the change by offering selections lower in sodium.


Moe’s Southwest Grill is leading the movement and began using KCLean, a salt substitute, more than a year ago.  This product only contains 50% of the sodium found in regular salt.  The change was made with no publicity and there have been no complaints.  Other well known chains are now following suit.

Restaurant Discounts: The Difficulty of Pricing in a Down Economy

June 28, 2010

As the economy begins to take tentative steps toward recovery, some restaurant owners are beginning to see a resurgence in customers with an appetite for their favorite dishes and less of a regard for deals or discounts. The NPD Group recently released a report that supports this trend.

According to the report, the number of diners placing a priority on deals and discounts has dropped significantly over the past twelve months. Last year approximately 29% of those dining out placed a priority on restaurant discounts. This year that number has dropped to an estimated 22%.

Reaching Restaurant Clientele through Social Media
Even so, Restaurants & Institutions 2010 New American Diner Study discovered that almost 60% of customers place a priority on price over all other considerations. So, what is the best way for a dining establishment to position itself in light of these seemingly conflicting results?

The answer seems to be multipronged and involves, at least in part, the use of social media sites which are rapidly becoming part of many consumers daily routine. In fact, another thing the Restaurants & Institutions study discovered is that 63% of respondents expect to find discounts, deals and coupons when connecting to a restaurants’ Facebook or Twitter page.

Groupon is an increasingly popular site offering subscribers discounts on things to do, see and purchase in their cities. These deals include restaurant discounts. Leveraging this site requires zero upfront costs to restaurant owners as retains a percentage of every “groupon” sold. has over four million subscribers and according to, its clients spend 60% over the value of the groupon on average. As a result, restaurant owners could potentially improve their business with very little time, effort or money spent on marketing simply by offering a restaurant discount on

Portion Choices as a Pricing Strategy
In a recent post, we discussed the issue of portion control and the 70% of diners who stated in a survey that portions are unnecessarily large. For restaurateurs who don’t want to be defined by price, controlling portion sizes may be another option. When portion sizes are reduced, prices naturally drop as well.