Very Important Beverage Professionals Chain Beverage Buzz: November 25, 2013

NRARestaurant sales Surge to Record High in October
Restaurant sales surged ahead to a new record high in October, according to preliminary figures from the U.S. Census Bureau.  Eating and drinking place sales totaled $46.3 billion in October on a seasonally-adjusted basis, up a full percentage point from September’s sales volume of $45.9 billion.  In addition, sales stood roughly $200 million above the previous record high of $46.1 billion registered in April. MORE>>

National Restaurant NewsRestaurants Face Shortened Holiday Shopping Season
Retailers, including restaurants, expect to grow sales during the shopping season this year, but with six fewer days between Thanksgiving and Christmas compared with 2012, foodservice operators are planning to manage through a more hectic holiday. New research from the National Restaurant Association estimated that 46 million Americans would dine out around shopping trips on Nov. 28 and 29, as annual deals for “Black Friday” would spread this year to Thanksgiving Day, when several major retailers like Walmart and Macy’s plan to open at 6 p.m. and 8 p.m., respectively. MORE>>

Technomic BlogMaking the Most of On-Premise Adult Beverage Programs
A primary challenge for all on-premise beverage professionals—in both restaurant and supplier organizations—is supporting restaurant adult-beverage programs. Food is the primary focus in restaurant companies, as it should be. But the bar and beverage menus are somewhat mysterious areas of the business—profitable when well-executed but shrouded in a certain level of mystery and, let’s be honest, risk. At most supplier companies, the off-premise channel yields more case volume than the on-premise does, so it undoubtedly garners the lion’s share of supplier resources, in terms of both personnel and budget. MORE>>

WhiskeyCanadian Whiskey At Forefront of Brown Spirits Flavor Surge
In the summer of 2012, Constellation’s Black Velvet Canadian whisky brand went out on a limb and introduced a flavor nobody else offered—Toasted Caramel. The extension helped make Black Velvet the category’s growth star last year, as the total brand rose by 5% to 2 million cases. In July of this year, Constellation added another flavor, Cinnamon Rush, and Constellation says more flavored line extensions are on the way. Both new flavors retail at $12.50, compared to $10 for the core Black Velvet brand. MORE>>

TechnomicTechnomic to Explore Craft Beer and Cider Opportunity in Restaurants and Bars
The dynamics of beer sales in restaurants and bars are evolving rapidly and craft beer is a critical factor in driving the trends. More than half of consumers (56 percent) agree that it is important for a restaurant or bar to offer a wide variety of craft beers, and half (49 percent) say they will go to a particular establishment because of its craft beer selection, according to a recent Technomic survey. MORE>>

Red RobinRed Robin Gourmet Burger to Open a Location in the Philadelphia Area
Alert your taste buds!  Red Robin Gourmet Burgers, Inc. (Red Robin) is two weeks away from bringing even more craveable gourmet burgers to the Philadelphia area. Located just south of the Cherry Hill Mall, off of Route 38 in Cherry Hill, N.J., the newest Red Robin will open on Monday, December 2 at 11 a.m.  To help celebrate the grand opening of the new restaurant, Red Robin will donate all sales of its signature Freckled Lemonade from Monday, December 2 to Sunday, December 8, to Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to finding cures for all kids with cancer. MORE>>

Salsarita'sSalsarita's Offers Gift-Giving Guests a Gift of Their Own
Salsarita’s, the Mexican cantina with locations across the country, is including free gifts for guests who purchase holiday gift cards from the restaurant between November 20 and December 31. Guests who purchase a $25 gift card will receive a card valid for a free two taco combo with chips and salsa redeemable during the month of January. This promotion will not be available in the restaurant chain’s non-traditional locations, such as airports, universities or corporate campuses. This promotion will not be available in the restaurant chain’s non-traditional locations, such as airports, universities, or corporate campuses. MORE>>

FastCasual.comPeople Report Announces Plans for Workforce Diversity Study
People Report, providers of service-sector human capital and workforce analytics, has partnered with the Multicultural Foodservice and Hospitality Alliance to publish a comprehensive study that it said will reveal and reflect on diversity practices in the restaurant industry. The objective of "The State of the Foodservice Industry: Diversity Report 2014" is to help executives and leaders understand the areas where the industry is performing well, and to identify challenges that need to be addressed in the quest to attract diverse talent, as well as marketing and selling to a multicultural audience, according to a company news release. MORE>>

VeggiesIt's Not Just Vegetarians Choosing Non-Meat Menu Items
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. MORE>>