Very Important Beverage Professionals Chain Beverage Buzz: January 20, 2014

BeveragesIn Adult Beverages, Differentiation Through Collaboration
2014 may well be the year adult beverage categories collide, both in the bottle and in the glass. The practice of mixing categories certainly isn’t new; brandy brings weight and complexity to sangria, while the Irish Car Bomb typically marries Guinness with Baileys Irish Cream and Jameson Irish whiskey. But such marriages seem to be on the rise. MORE>>

Darden RestaurantsDarden Restaurants' Red Lobster Spin Off Plan Falls Short
Activist investor Barington Capital Group LP said Monday that Darden Restaurants Inc.’s December-announced plan to spin off Red Lobster falls short, especially in taking advantage of the company’s owned real estate. New York-based Barington, which represents a group of shareholders that owns more than 2 percent of Darden’s outstanding shares, said in a statement that it was “disappointed” with Darden’s plan, which also includes halting Olive Garden development and slowing LongHorn Steakhouse expansion. MORE>>

National Restaurant AssociationRestaurant Sales Will Rise in 2014 Despite Cautious Consumer Mindset
The restaurant industry is expected to register its fifth consecutive year of real sales growth in 2014, according to the NRA’s 2014 Restaurant Industry Forecast. Restaurant-and-foodservice sales are projected to total $683.4 billion in 2014, up 3.6 percent from 2013’s sales volume of $659.3 billion. In real terms, sales are projected to rise 1.2 percent in 2014, up slightly from a 1.0 percent gain in 2013. MORE>>

TechnomicTechnomic Announces 2014 Consumers' Choice Awards for Chain Restaurants
Technomic has announced the winners of the 2014 Chain Restaurant Consumers' Choice Awards, which are based on consumer responses to the research and consulting firm's ongoing brand study. As part of its comprehensive Consumer Brand Metrics program, Technomic asks consumers to rate over 120 leading restaurant chains on more than 60 different attributes that capture the consumer experience from every angle, from the quality of the food to the overall brand reputation. The ongoing study records 80,000 consumer visits annually. MORE>>

Shaken News DailyU.S. Wine Market Rises 1.5% in 2013
The U.S. wine market continued its long-term growth streak in 2013, as a solid off-premise performance offset tougher conditions in the on-premise. The market added nearly 5 million cases over the past year, according to Impact Databank. Overall growth slowed slightly to 1.5% in 2013, from 1.7% a year earlier, with volume hitting 328.7 million nine-liter cases, compared with 323.9 million cases in 2012.  MORE>>

French FriesTrend Watch: Potatoes are a Center-Plate Food
Consumers' demand for customization along with more healthy food and snacking options has led to the emergence of a new fast casual category — the potato concept. French Fry Heaven — which makes French fries 50 ways in nearly 20 locations — and Potatopia, an East Coast brand that allows guests to create their own baked potatoes by topping them with a variety of meats, cheeses, veggies and sauces, seem to be cashing in on this trend. And they'll soon have a new competitor. MORE>>

RestaurantNews.comRestaurant Industry Enters Fifth Consecutive Year of Sales Growth
2014 will mark the fifth consecutive year of restaurant industry sales growth despite a continued challenging economic landscape, according to the National Restaurant Association’s 2014 Restaurant Industry Forecast released today. Industry sales are projected to exceed $683 billion in 2014, up 3.6 percent from 2013’s sales volume of $659.3 billion. MORE>>

EaterEater's Spring 2014 Cookbook and Food Book Preview
Welcome to the Eater Spring Cookbook and Food Book Preview. Here you will find Spring releases (January 1 to April 30) that are about, written by, or could be useful to chefs/restaurants. While Spring may be the slowest cookbook season, there are still some major titles heading your way over the next few months. The international chefs are where the exciting books are coming from this Spring: namely, Ferran Adrià's massive, seven-volume elBulli archive set from Phaidon that's coming out in March. MORE>>

Buffalo Wild WingsBuffalo Wild Wings to Conduct a Webcast of its Fourth Quarter 2013 Results
Buffalo Wild Wings, Inc., announced that the Company will conduct a conference call to discuss its fourth quarter 2013 results on Tuesday, February 4, 2014 at 4:00 p.m. Central Standard Time. A simultaneous webcast of the call will be available by visiting the investor relations section of the Company's website at MORE>>

QRSVegging Out
Beef, pork, poultry, and seafood may be the staples of the limited-service restaurant industry, but non-meat items aren’t taking a back seat on the menu these days. Although vegetarians make up a small percentage of the American dining population, an increasing number of consumers are deciding to eat less meat. “Ten years ago, it might have seemed like a fad, with just a small population, but it’s been constantly increasing,” says Jesse Gideon, corporate chef and chief operating officer for Fresh To Order, a 10-unit fast-casual chain based in Atlanta. MORE>>