Chain Beverage Buzz: Nov. 14, 2011

The National Restaurant Association released its Restaurant Performance Index (RPI) for September and, for the first time in three months, it scored about 100. The RPI is a monthly survey that tracks the health and outlook for the foodservice industry. At 100.1 in September, the RPI was up 0.7% from August; its highest level since June. The RPI includes the Current Situation Index, which measures current trends in same-stores sales, traffic, labor and capital expenditures, and the Expectations Index, which measures operators’ six-month outlook in those same categories. For more information, check out the survey here.

National Restaurant Association

While the hospitality industry deals with vacillating economic forecasts, Technomic names seven developments that might help profits in 2012. The trends include the following: consumers expecting a twist on the familiar fare, commodity costs driving restaurants to include rustic fare, sourcing locally grown and seasonal items, social marketing becoming more influential, consumers looking for transparency in menu labeling, calorie counts and local-sourcing practices, operators resisting discounting instead opting for more in-the-moment methods and brands becoming more flexible, transforming from fast-casual by day to full-service by night. To read more about these trends, click here.

San Francisco-based hospitality consultant Andrew Freeman, Principal of Consulting and Public Relations for Andrew Freeman & Co., also predicted 2012 trends during a trend-spotting webinar, according to National Restaurant News. When it comes to spirits and cocktails, Freeman says unique infusions, such as vodka infused with the flavors of a sourdough grilled cheese sandwich and beer infused with fruit, will gain in popularity. Liqueurs such as Zwack, made in Hungary with blends of herbs and spices, and Bärenjäger, a honey-flavored liqueur, are showing up on drinks menus. Other trends include pouring jallab, a Middle Eastern drink made with date syrup mixed with water and flavored with rosewater, as well as cask-aged Negronis.

Landry'sAfter months of back-and-forth negotiations, McCormick & Schmick’s Seafood Restaurants Inc., has agreed to be acquired by Landry’s Restaurants Inc., a deal valued at $131.6 million. Tilman J. Fertitta, owner of Landry’s, already owns about 10.1% of McCormick & Schmick’s, making him one of the chain’s largest stockholders.

The People Report Workforce Index, a barometer of market pressures on restaurant employment, showed that employment dipped during the fourth quarter, indicating that operators are facing challenges when it comes to recruiting and retaining employees. Looking ahead, surveyed operators expect job vacancies and recruiting difficulty to increase. However, employment expectations in each dining segment, including casual-dining concepts, showed that operators had high expectations for hiring going into the holiday season.

In sad news, Allen J. Bernstein, former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Morton’s Restaurant Group, died Nov. 1 at the age of 65. Bernstein was chairman emeritus of the 77-unit Morton’s The Steakhouse and helped grow the company from nine restaurants in 1989 to 69 locations at the time of its initial public offering in 2006. Bernstein is survived by his wife, Lori Waltzer Bernstein, and his two children.


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