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The Crumb for September 8th, 2017

Lori Bailey / September 8th 2017

Today's Crumb dropped en route to plant-based burgers and shakes.

Happy Friday! Don’t eat uni-corns. But do make yourself comfortable as you settle into this past week’s food news!

Big kids

Young professional still living at home? Take your time, says Wendy’s in its new “Giant Junior” ads. The Hispanic-targeted campaign acknowledges the large percentage of young adults (aged 18-34) in the demographic who continue to live at home with their parents. Just to be clear, they aren’t slacking — they’re fully functioning members of society, with jobs and lives of their own. They just take a little longer than their non-Hispanic counterparts to leave the nest. Wendy’s started to really beef up its Hispanic advertising a few years ago in an attempt to capitalize on an increasingly influential customer base that accounts for 10% of the entire buying power in the U.S. To Wendy’s ears, that sounds like muchas hamburguesas.


The rise of the non-restaurant

Fact: Millennials spend close to half their food dollars on dining out. So, when eating out is the new normal, how do restaurants rise above the status quo? Some chefs are betting the answer lies in the experience, especially for a demographic that’s not above browsing AirBnB to alleviate their Instagram envy. Enter the pop-up, a dining concept that aims to satisfy a hunger for experience as much as it does a hunger for food. And, because of their small and intimate nature, they have the flexibility to morph to suit different tastes — casual dinner gathering, elegant social club, lively party, you name it. If there’s an experience to craft, there’s pop-up potential. Something to consider, perhaps, for restaurants and food brands looking for fresh new ways to tell their stories.


I don’t know, fly fast casual

Are there enough fast casuals yet? Debatable, but businesses are still betting on the space to fuel growth — including some you might not initially expect. Consider Holler & Dash, a biscuit-driven, counter-service restaurant highlighting locally-sourced ingredients and single-origin coffee. It also so happens to be a venture of Cracker Barrel, the casual roadside chain famous (or infamous) for its kooky general stores and homey, country-style meals. A chef-driven concept is their way of edging into the same room where players like Panera and Chipotle are hanging out. On the other end of the spectrum, we see fine dining descending to meet the demand for more fast casual; places like David Chang’s Fuku following in the steps of Danny Meyer’s Shake Shack success. It’s a field of dreams, but succeeding here will be tricky as the space gets more jam-packed than a Holler & Dash biscuit. Not stopping Cracker Barrel, at least, from laying it on thick.


Generally a good idea

Pretty much every metropolitan area comprehends the value of a good corner store. Now Dollar General is hoping to get in on the one-stop-shop action with its newest store remodels, which feature expansions on food and drink. The particular selection of everyday groceries and household items caters to a younger, urbanized generation with a need for convenient, quick-stop shopping options. The “DGX” stores are already showing 3 to 4 times better sales than Dollar General’s typical remodels, and the company hopes to apply these findings in future store designs. Still early to tell, but this Dollar’s starting off strong.


Excuse me, there’s an allergen in my soup

If you have a food allergy, or have dined out with someone affected by food sensitivities, you might know the feeling: flipping open the menu at a restaurant, scanning the list, and feeling the stress mount as item after item poses a potential hidden threat. Then there’s the awkward back-and-forth with the server, plying them with questions about whether the quinoa porridge contains dairy or if that ceviche can be made without shrimp. Eager to provide a comfortable space for their diners, some restaurants go above and beyond in communicating what’s in each dish. Tech companies are jumping on board, too, to help particularly sensitive patrons shoulder the responsibility of making sure their meal won’t hurt them. New apps designed to test food for components like dairy or gluten can save diners from a potentially bad night. Allergen-free dining still seems niche, but it’s a serious topic nonetheless: reports of allergic reactions to food in restaurants have increased over 300% over the past decade. Now that ain’t nothing to sneeze at.

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