With a new year of dining underway, the expert team behind the Chicago-based Mercadito Hospitality shares their insight on culinary, beverage, marketing, and design trends for 2014.
As a restaurant group on the rise, identifying and launching trends in the hospitality market has been vital to the growth and success of Mercadito Hospitality, which owns and operates Mercadito restaurants nationwide. The group also owns Double A, Tavernita and Barcito, and Little Market Brasserie, all in downtown Chicago. In 2013, MH Catering was launched and the group's newest concepts, Tippling Hall (Chicago), Mercadito Counter (Chicago), Mercadito Wheels (San Diego), and additional projects in Las Vegas and Philadelphia are slated to open in 2014. Comprised of industry leaders ranging from top culinary talents and beverage innovators, to business leaders and design pioneers, Mercadito Hospitality is among the nation's key visionaries and predicts the following new movements in the year ahead:
Mercadito Hospitality's Managing Partner Alfredo Sandoval, who developed and leads the Mercadito brand with his 30 years of industry experience, foresees the following:
- Open Kitchen Concepts: More restaurant spaces are embracing the open-kitchen trend as diners have gotten into the habit of watching chefs on TV due to a fascination with what goes on behind the scenes in restaurant kitchens. It is both transparent and entertaining.
- Restaurant Groups on the Rise: Not only are restaurateurs using brand equity of their flagship establishment to help build a diverse, multi-concept portfolio, but they are also utilizing the formulation of a restaurant group to help leverage partners and new concepts.
- Concept Concentration: There are more concepts evolving that focus on one or two types of food as opposed to offering an endless variety of dishes. For example, Da Lobster and Honey Butter Fried Chicken in Chicago and Burger and Lobster in London.
Mercadito Hospitality partners and founders of the leading beverage consulting company, Tippling Bros., Paul Tanguay, and Tad Carducci–who bring decades of award-winning expertise in the wine and spirits industry–predict:
- Return of Drinking Rituals: Fresh takes on classics such as Irish Coffee and Sake will make a comeback but with an emphasis on traditional beverage presentation.
- Take-home Tipples: The portable cocktail trend will continue to grow beyond growlers of beer, with tasty take-aways complete with creative packaging and cheaper price tags.
- Interesting Syrups: The use of interesting and flavorful syrups from non-traditional sources, such as tree syrups, will be used more and more in drinks in 2014.
- Beer Flights: More menus will be offering beer flights, similar to that of wine flights, where guests can taste a variety of samples in smaller portions.
- Kegged Cocktails: The kegged cocktail trend will continue due to the need for efficiency combined with premium quality, including the batching of non-alcoholic components such as agua fresca and cocktail mixes to maintain freshness.