Recapping the most memorable moves to come out of the full-service industry in September.
1. Human Resources: The restaurant industry was named the top business sector in a Gallup poll, recording the most positive rating on record for the industry; but it was also named one of the most competitive job markets, trailed only by customer service/retail and healthcare/nursing. Moreover, the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation released its workforce study, one of the most extensive studies on the restaurant sector workforce in decade, learning how many in the industry got their start and have grown with it.
2. Health: Nutritious fare was trending in September as Maggiano's debuted its Lighter Fare menu. The chain launched the menu by creating a pop-up shop in Chicago and not revealing to guests what they were eating until the end of the meal. Meanwhile, Bonefish Grill, Cheesecake Factory, and Bahama Breeze were named as some of the top healthy chains by consumers, while Cheesecake Factory was also named consumers' favorite casual-dining restaurant.
3. Technology: An app developer shared how restaurants that are shifting to tablet and mobile ordering in stores can leverage the tech for upselling opportunities; FSR also investigated the basics of building a loyalty program. This is crucial, because data show that loyalty customers are 70 percent more likely to make a repeat visit. Finally, Groupon announced that it was giving restaurants greater control over their promotions.
4. Beverage: Right on the heels of new data that indicate innovative beverage options drive more visits from consumers, Hard Rock told FSR how it's leveraged a simple coffee press into an entire line of drinks, both alcoholic and alcohol-free—and the innovation shows little sign of slowing down. Beer sales softened slightly towards the end of August and into September, but are still better than they were earlier this year, continuing the strong wave of beer sales initiated by the World Cup.
5. Industry Highlights: FSR revealed the nation's best beverage programs of 2014, and also took an in-depth look at how the California drought is affecting restaurants and farmers; Johnny Rockets announced it was creating a quick-serve spinoff with a drive-thru prototype, drive-in movie prototype, and pop-up shop and food truck; and finally, Macaroni Grill found that turning up the volume on its radio marketing wasn't such an outdated idea.