Very Important Beverage Professionals Chain Beverage Buzz: September 16, 2013

National Restaurant AssociationNRA Launches New Tool to Navigate Health Care Law Requirements
The National Restaurant Association launched a new tool that will help restaurateurs notify their employees about new government-run health insurance marketplaces. The online employee-notification tool, which was developed to help restaurateurs comply with the health care law’s upcoming employee-notification requirements, was unveiled Sept. 5 and is available at MORE>>

TechnomicTechnomic Study Reveals Growth Trends for Starters, Small Plates and Sides
The lines have been blurring between restaurant dayparts and dining occasions. As a growing population of snackers changes their eating-out behavior, consumers are doing a lot more mix-and-match dining. These days, an appetizer can be a snack, and a trio of small plates can make up a meal. Foodservice consumers are looking for chances to customize the menu and often use small bites to supplement or replace a meal. All of these factors are pointing to growth opportunities for starters, small plates and sides. MORE>>

Olive GardenOlive Garden to Roll Out Small Plates Systemwide
Olive Garden will expand its Tastes of Italy small plates menu systemwide in early December, the company confirmed. The $4 items are: Parmesan Roasted Asparagus with balsamic glaze and parmesan dipping sauce; Pizza Fritta Napoli with fried pizza dough, alfredo sauce and a choice of five-cheese marinara, sun-dried tomato or meat sauce for dipping; Tuscan White Bean Hummus with toasted ciabatta bread; Tortelloni al Forno filled with cheese and prosciutto in a parmesan cream sauce; and Chicken Meatballs in a marina sauce. MORE>>

Red Robin Red Robin to Open Location in Baltimore
Alert your taste buds! Red Robin Gourmet Burgers, Inc. (Red Robin) is two weeks away from bringing even more craveable gourmet burgers to Canton Crossing. Located at the Inner Harbor area of downtown Baltimore at the intersection of Boston Street and Haven Street, the newest Red Robin will open on Monday, Sept. 30 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, Sept. 30 to Sunday, Oct. 6 to Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to finding cures for all kids with cancer.

MoneyCalifornia to Increase Minimum Wage
California lawmakers approved late Thursday an increase in the state’s minimum wage from $8 per hour to $10 per hour by 2016. The bill, AB10, was approved in a late-night 50-to-25 vote by the state Assembly following earlier approval by the state Senate. It is California's first minimum-wage increase in five years. Gov. Jerry Brown, who has argued that the minimum wage has not kept pace with rising costs, is expected to sign the bill. MORE>>

Shaken News DailyHigh-End Whiskies, Tequilas Lead Impact's "Hot Prospect" Spirits
Upscale whiskies and Tequilas are the best-performing players the U.S. spirits market right now, and Impact’s latest “Hot Prospects” list is strong evidence of that trend. Six whiskies from across the Bourbon, Canadian, Irish and Scotch categories, as well as two moonshines, earned Hot Prospect awards this year, and five Tequilas are on the list. Most average more than $20 a 750-ml. at retail, and some of them far exceed that price point. MORE>>

ChilisChili's to Install Tabletop Computer Screens
Tabletop computer screens that take menu orders, accept payments by credit card and let diners play videogames are about to get much more common, changing how waiters and restaurant guests interact. Chili's Grill & Bar plans to announce Tuesday that it will install tabletop screens in most of its 1,266 U.S. restaurants by early next year. The chain owned by Brinker International Inc. EAT +1.05% has been testing the devices since early this year. MORE>>

CNational Restaurant Associationall for Nominations Opens for National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation Awards
The National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF) announced today it has begun accepting nominations for its 2014 “Restaurant Neighbor” and “Faces of Diversity” awards. Entering its 16th year, the Foundation’s “Restaurant Neighbor Award,” founded in partnership with American Express, celebrates the outstanding charitable service performed by restaurant operators. MORE>>

WineNew Directions in Wine
Wine is continuing on its upward trajectory in 2013, its momentum fueled by ongoing product innovation, a shift to higher-priced offerings and highly engaged consumers, not to mention the creativity that retail and on-premise operators are employing to showcase the category. The dynamics of the current wine market are such that marketers of beer, and to some degree spirits, are feeling a competitive threat. MORE>>


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