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The Crumb for July 28th, 2017

Lori Bailey / July 28th 2017

Today's Crumb dropped in between coffee breaks.

Happy Friday! Help yourself to a warm pastry (these were baked fresh, right on the interstate) and settle into this past week’s food news.

Brave new restaurants

So, what is American cuisine, anyway? The question continues to evade a definitive answer as our nation’s food scene continually shifts and evolves—and often in surprising ways. Who knew, for example, that an up-and-coming chef in the Pacific Northwest could set the new benchmark for Southern cooking? Or that a Japanese izakaya in Texas could prove revelatory? Or that a couple in Minneapolis could make cross-cultural conversation by way of pizza? Yet it’s that confusing, mish-mash, anything-goes kind of spirit that makes the American food landscape so full of potential. And, need we mention, delicious.


What’s in a hashtag?

A lot, apparently, as social media stats become increasingly indicative of how well businesses are reaching their audience. In the restaurant industry, something as simple as a check-in or “like” could translate into the likelihood of a return visit, referrals to potential new customers, and even such nitty-gritty details as menu analysis and price perception. According to recent data from Foodable Labs, some restaurants are tapping into the social media goldmine in a big way: Sweetgreen tops the list, followed by Zoe’s Kitchen and Freshii. Heart-eye emoji, meet dollar-eye emoji.


You lose some, you (maybe) win some

Blueberry bagel fans may have cause for concern: Dunkin Donuts just announced a plan to pare down their rather substantial menu in select locations. The New England mainstay says they conducted extensive consumer research, and all signs pointed to too many offerings and a confusing menu experience. Not all their consumers, though, responded well to the news of potentially losing particular beloved items. In-store testing will run from early August through October, at which point—if a host of Dunkin customers haven’t succumbed to malnourishment from lack of honey bran raisin muffins and non-breakfast sandwiches—the chain hopes to have slimmed down menus across 1,000 locations. Fingers crossed, bagel twists.


AirBn-Be yourself

Because, sometimes, being true to your heart just ain’t good business. Such was the case with Cafe Henri in Bywater, one of New Orleans’ burgeoning touristy neighborhoods with a particularly high density of short-term rentals. Six months after their opening, they faced a conundrum: be the comfortable community watering hole they had aspired to be, or cater to the influx of out-of-towners vying to get a good ‘gram in a rising foodie destination. Eventually, they chose to pivot, hiring a new chef and gussying up their menu while putting the locals-only concept on the backburner. Moral of the story: sometimes your audience isn’t who you think it is.


McKillin’ It

Poor McDonald's; seems like they've been the butt of the food world’s jokes for years. Well, no longer, as the Golden Arches have finally put up some positive numbers showing strong global growth. It’s all thanks to a few smart moves: appealing to customers with beverage specials, rolling out their Signature Crafted premium lineup, and pushing tech growth with mobile order and pay. “Bring more customers to McDonald’s more often” is the stated goal, and it looks like they’ve got their eyes on the prize. Meanwhile, Domino’s continues to slay expectations; its domestic growth continues to soar on the wings of cutting-edge delivery technologies and strategically savvy promotions. Fast food, fast-tracking.

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