Indulge in Cold Weather Adventures

With fall and winter just around the corner, it’s time to plan ahead for all of the guests that cold weather adventures bring. 

Lodges, hotels, resorts and indoor amusement parks are primed to get a business boom in 2022/2023. “Domestic leisure travel spending has already surpassed pre-pandemic levels, even when adjusted for inflation.” Along with a more immersive guest experience comes upgrades to the food experience.

Great Breakfast Leads to Great Reviews

Breakfast is a daypart to win the hearts of your hotel guests. A recent Google survey found that 42.4% of guests picked breakfast as the hotel feature they most looked forward to. Before the family hits the slopes, make sure to provide an excellent experience with wholesome, luscious options. 

A mainstay of breakfast, brunch and break indulgence is our Pullman Loaves.

  • Purposeful, better-for-you ingredients
  • Thaw and serve, ready to indulge
  • Comforting flavors and format
  • Versatile, breakfast, grab-and-go, plated, parfait, grilled, catering, etc. 


Pullman Variety #9 is available in national distribution and contains mouthwatering flavors: Orange Poppy, Lemon Glazed, Marble Chocolate Chip and Cinnamon Streusel. Pre-sliced for operation ease, this variety case offers fresh flavor options for guests while providing chefs with a canvas fit for creativity. Cross-utilization of sku’s remains key in the ever changing foodservice landscape. Whether a grab-and-go option or transformed into french toast worthy of their cravings, guests will keep coming back for more Pullmans.   

CLICK HERE for more information on Pullman loaves, including Individually Wrapped. 

Satisfy Seasonal Cravings

As guests coming off the ski lift are looking for a break and indulgent Après snack, satisfy them with a warm Sandy’s Amazing Chocolate Chip Cookie or a local hot drink favorite paired with an aromatic Cinnamon Streusel Pullman. What’s better after a long-day of indoor amusement park fun, than capping the night with lasting fireside memories in the lodge? Feed their nostalgia with a hot chocolate bar featuring Chewy Marshmallow Bars with a chocolate fountain for a new take on s’mores perfection. 

National Hot Chocolate Day – January 31st 

Why Sweet Street is Perfect for You

Sweetness is best shared and creates an unforgettable experience that is cherished by family and friends. Whether it is our Molten Chocolate Cake as a decadent end to a fine dining experience, a wholesome grab-and-go snack from your cafe or kiosks, or Pullman French Toast so out-of-this-world it becomes a signature on the menu…Your guests are guaranteed to revel in our ready-to-indulge desserts, worthy of their cravings with wholesome ingredients they can feel good about. 

  • Readily available in National Distribution and Redistributors. 
  • Craveable solution to be cross-utilized throughout your property.
  • Thaw and serve. Labor savings. 
  • Fresh options, with better-for-you ingredients for cafes and kiosks.
  • Indulgent add-on for catering and events.


Click here for French Toast Recipe

Resources: Travel Forecast

Welcome Back: Catering to Everyone’s Needs

Hotels and resorts provide a destination for relaxation, celebrations and gatherings; for both out-of-town guests and local patrons. As occupancy rates across the country continue to increase, large scale event bookings dominate. Customers of all types – business and pleasure- are hungry. They have an increased appetite for communal experiences and indulgent foods. You need desserts that evoke togetherness, are versatile, always delicious and most importantly AVAILABLE.

Research from the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA) shows that business travel, a key source of business for restaurants, should rebound to 80% of the 2019 level by the third quarter of this year. Analysis conducted for the group projects travel for business will increase overall this year by 14% from the 2021 level, with the tally topping pre-pandemic levels by 2024. 

Purposeful. Indulgent. Versatile.

Our Individually Wrapped Pullmans are strewn with wholesome, GMO-free ingredients, such as rich Saigon Cinnamon, freshly pureed, ripened bananas and scattered generously with the sweetness of sustainably sourced chocolates. All baked just-for-you with cage free eggs, pure cane sugar, rBST free dairy and free of all things artificial; colors, flavorings.

With a 10 day ambient shelf-life, you can offer an always fresh, on-the-go breakfast, afternoon pick-me-up or late night, better-for-you indulgence. Ideal for boxed meals, catered events, coffee and snack kiosks, elevating your brunch offering or a pre-portioned and contactless, signature item throughout your property. The convenience of thaw-and-serve indulgences with better-for-you ingredients, make Individually Wrapped Pullmans the ideal option to satisfy all of your customers’ cravings.

Click here to learn more about our entire Individually Wrapped Manifesto Product Line.

Cater to all of the needs. 

Wedding and event planners are getting creative with their menu offerings, as everyone is faced with overbooked venues, limited vendors, low supply, labor constraints and safety concerns. Individualized dessert offerings, such as cupcakes, continue to be trendy going into 2023. These “personalized” desserts provide a solution to the above obstacles while offering a variety of flavor options for guests.

With flavors for every occasion and craving, our Original Variety Cupcake (2090) is complete with Vanilla Bean, Chocolate on Chocolate, Jelly Roll, Peanut Butter, and Red Velvet.



Brighten up any moment with a “just for me” indulgence of our Sweet Street cupcakes.

  • Indulgent room service add-on
  • Festive menu addition to celebrate birthdays, personal milestones, anniversaries
  • Festive alternative to a traditional cakes or catered dessert display
  • Edible cupcake towers on tables as centerpieces
  • “Welcome” treat at check-in
  • “Thank You” to employees for going above and beyond


Satisfy Seasonal Cravings

Fall has consumers transitioning into sweater weather and comforting flavors. The smells of warmed cinnamon paired with everything pumpkin sets the stage for indulgent memories and satiated cravings. Not-so-expected autumn favorites to the menu include zucchini and legendary monster mash-ups in the form of shakes.


Click here for French Toast Recipe

Click here for Cupcake Milkshake Recipe

Click here for our Hotel/Lodging Brochure


Resources: Restaurant Business

Menu Hacks: The Psychology Behind Menu Design

Your most valuable piece of marketing as a restaurant owner is a thoughtfully designed menu. It advertises your offerings while increasing your restaurant’s profitability. Menu engineering is the strategic process of designing a menu to maximize profits. It requires analyzing profitable and your most popular menu items. Using menu psychology techniques to highlight these items, restaurants can construct menus in the most effective way.

First, you must analyze menu items to find the most popular and profitable, which is important since you’ll be constructing your menu around these items. Ensure that your menu is priced correctly for maximum profits and understand item popularity using the menu matrix. After analyzing your menu items and pricing them appropriately, the fun can begin with these designing hacks.


The first component to consider in menu design is its scannability. Therefore, restaurateurs want to grab guests’ attention with their high profit items. The research shows that customers are likely to order one of the first items that draw their attention. Since guests only spend an average of 109 seconds looking at your menu, it must be designed for guests to easily find key items aka scannable.

You want to avoid crowded layouts, limit item choices, and create a natural flow. Do you ever get overwhelmed at the sight of too many options? This is the psychological theory known as the “paradox of choice,” which assumes that the more options we have, the more anxiety we feel, whereas too little options make consumers feel misrepresented. The golden number for food options is 7 per category. Anything over seven items can ambush customers and lead to confusion, and confusion can cause them to revert to their “usual” by default instead of trying a new menu item. There is no shame in sticking with what you know, but a well-designed menu will entice you to try something different or more expensive.

  • Limit Options.Psychologists suggest that restaurateurs limit options per category to the golden number, around 7 items, based on the theory, “paradox of choice”. Limiting options can increase perceptions that consumers made the right choice, which in turn brings customers back. in an industry where repeat customers account for about 70% of sales, getting diners to return is the ultimate goal. (Mental Floss)
  • Declutter. Avoid crowded layouts and choose easy-to-read fonts and font sizes. Stick with visible dish titles and clear sections.
  • Location, location, location! Psychologists have studied consumer eye patterns and found that our eyes tend to move to the center of the menu first, then move on to the top right corner, followed by the top left corner. This is known as “The Golden Triangle”. Place your most profitable menu items in these prime real estate locations (Webstaurant)
  • Use glossaries if needed. Some patrons may feel intimidated by unfamiliar names and be deterred from ordering fancy-sounding dishes. A glossary can give more context so guests feel confident that they’re making an informed decision and the right choice.


Next, consider the menu’s ability to tap into the customer’s senses. Do the food items catch your eye? Does the menu evoke emotion? According to restaurant consultant Aaron Allen, colors can conjure different types of feelings and “motivate” behavior. For example; blue has a calming effect, while red can stimulate appetite and a sense of urgency, and yellow draws our attention. Entertain the use of borders, shaded boxes, and white space to highlight specific and profitable items. Crowding your menu with photos can cheapen the feel of a menu, but a nice-looking picture alongside a food item can increase sales by 30%.

Another tactic is writing longer, more detailed descriptions that persuade customers they are getting more for their dollar. According to a Cornell study, researchers found that more detailed descriptions sold nearly 30% more food. Customers also rated those items as tasting better. “People taste what you tell them they’re tasting” says menu engineer, Gregg Rapp (Mental Floss). So tell them a story! Detail dishes with verbiage that describes where it’s sourced and how it’s prepared to be effective in increasing the perception of quality in the items.

  • Use color. Choose a color scheme that reflects your sales and marketing objective. People emotionally respond to color, subconsciously, which can influence their behavior. You can use bright colors, which capture attention and trigger appetite, to draw focus to specific arrears of your menu.
  • Use photos. Use professional photography in your menu, but do it sparingly. People respond to images on display like they would if the plate was right in front of them and if you’re hungry the response is “I’ll have that!”
  • It’s all about semantics! Mind the language that you use to describe your dishes and tell a story. Adjectives like “line-caught,” “farm-raised,” or “locally-sourced” are big turn-ons for customers and can increase the perception of quality.
  • Make it nostalgic. Touching past time-periods can trigger happy memories of their childhood, family or traditions. “Grandma’s Chicken Soup” or “Campfire Hot Cocoa” stir feelings of comfort and closeness.

Another trick is to create space around high-profit items by putting them in boxes or otherwise separating them from the rest of the options. “When you put in a pocket of negative space, you pull the eye there,” writes Allen. “Putting negative space around an item can call attention to it and help you sell it” (Mental Floss).


Finally, circle back to your menu’s profitability. Perspective is everything when considering menu design. Author of Priceless, William Poundstone, reveals the psychology behind menus, stating ”ultimately, it’s about minimizing the focus on price”. Making price tags as inconspicuous as possible, we can encourage guests to spend more. A Cornell University study found that written-out prices also encourage guests to spend more. Here’s a few more hacks that are designed to increase your menu’s profit potential.

  • Avoid dollar signs. Currency indicators are a pain point that remind customers they are spending money and make them feel like they are spending more than they actually are. Soften the price by eliminating the dollar sign.
  • Avoid price trails. Price trails are dotted lines that connect your menu items to their price and are the cardinal sin of menu design. This takes the focus away from your dish description and straight to the price instead. Try “nested” pricing, prices that are listed discreetly after the meal description in the same font size, so consumer eyes glide right over it (Mental Floss).
  • Avoid price columns. Placing prices in a column will draw focus to the cost of the food, instead of the dish itself, which could lead guests to choose the cheapest items on the menu.
  • Use price decoys. A price “decoy” is a menu item that would seem overly expensive to guests, placed near high profit margin items. This gives the perception, when compared to the decoy, that customers are getting a deal, a “better bang for their buck”.
  • Sandwich your menu items. D Studies show that customers tend to notice and order the top two items or the last item of each section more often than other items. Place your most profitable items at the top of the list and one at the bottom to optimize your menu categories.

Final thoughts

Guests will scan your menu in less than 2 minutes on average, which means you have a small window to set the menu’s tone for customer satisfaction and optimal profit. Using these psychological tactics of menu design, to revamp your menu can greatly improve your restaurant’s profits and guest experience. Our Sweet Street Design Suite provides you with the expertise and tools to sell more.



Sources: Aaron Allen | WebstauranteStore | Canva | Mental Floss | The Sydney Morning Herald

10 Strategies for Your Restaurant’s Next LTO

Almost half of all restaurant consumers find it important for operators to keep menus fresh throughout the year by offering specialty items and LTOs (limited-time offer). This post provides 10 unique strategies to help strengthen your LTO menu and optimize profits.

Editor’s Notes: Favorite desserts in fresh new forms. In today’s environment especially, it can be challenging for restaurants to take menu risks, but safe options can come from reinventing just one SKU.

According to the Technomic study of 2019, 45% of consumers say it’s “important” or “extremely important” to them that restaurants offer new or seasonal menu items throughout the year. Of those consumers, 26% said that they’d be willing to pay MORE for special items. This gives restaurants the opportunity to create limited-time menu offerings, with high profit margins. Furthermore, after consumers experience an enjoyable LTO, 82% will return to order it again, 75% will tell other people about it, and 65% will return to order something else.

Additionally, there are a number of studies that link LTOs to impulse purchases. By letting customers know that there’s a limited availability of that day’s special, restaurants can encourage guests to jump on a special they might otherwise have skipped over, just because there’s a slim window of opportunity to do so.

“Specials can even help your restaurant save money that otherwise would have been wasted. Food waste accounts for a fair amount of expenses in restaurant kitchens, and offering a special that utilizes an ingredient you need to use up is a great way to cut down on waste.”

With careful planning and the right execution, limited-time offers can be a profitable part of your operation. Research suggests that 45% of operators estimate that a strong promotion generates at least a 10% lift in monthly sales compared to a month without an LTO. A powerful LTO doesn’t just add variety to the menu, it offers an experience. However, up to 70% of operators find initiating trendy menu items to be challenging. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of strategies to implement when designing LTOs and suggested recipes to consistently stimulate your menu.


Here are ten strategies to make your LTOs work harder to satisfy your guests and improve your bottom line.

1. Brand & Menu alignment

Customers are coming to you to satisfy a craving based on your theme of offerings and brand. It may be tempting to jump on trendy bandwagons, but going too astray with your LTO can be confusing. When developing LTOs make sure it’s something customers would reasonably expect from your operation. It will help define and enhance your brand, not dilute it.

Know your audience! Apply your restaurant data like most-ordered dishes; what demographics order them the most; and busiest time of day; to help with the creation of your LTO.


2. The Buzz Timeline

It takes time for the word to get out about special offerings, so most operators run their LTOs for between one and three months. Commit to an LTO for at least one month, to give your advertisements (both paid and word of mouth) enough time to build momentum. The buzz will spread.

As the LTO program winds down, it’s important for operators to remove point of purchase materials and communicate with service personnel on scripting responses and offering alternative items. An end to a brilliant LTO can be disappointing to customers, but it’s the perfect time to excite them about new specials just around the corner.

3. New, yet familiar

Start by putting a twist on your existing menu items. Consumers are looking for one of two things when it comes to LTOs: new products to try or a different take on their old faves. Research shows the most successful LTOs take a dish the customer is familiar with and make it special simply by adding an indulgent ingredient or two. Utilize your menu data to determine which items are the most popular. Then, put a twist on already high-demand foods to energize your bread-and-butter customers.

This approach has multiple benefits. First, by starting with something familiar to your patrons, you can be sure they’ll understand what your LTO is, which eliminates uncertainty. Second, adding something new to an existing menu item can make it easier for your kitchen staff to learn and execute flawlessly.

4. Bank on Trendy

Embrace the fads. Staying on trend is challenging, by the time you figure out what’s “in”, it’s probably already on it’s way out. Social media is a great tool to find inspiration for your next LTO. Make the connection of what’s hot with your customers and it’ll be well worth the effort. Food holidays can be a strategic way to attract new customers, as an example of trendy specials. Use this national food holiday calendar to find marketing opportunities for your restaurant.

5. The Customer’s Always Right

When in doubt, involve your customers in the creation of your next LTO. The development of an LTO is a valuable opportunity to engage guests and get a deeper understanding of the flavors and dishes they’re craving. Willing customers, about 70%, say they want to contribute to the creation of LTOs. By involving your customers in this process and getting feedback right from the source, you reduce the risk of a flop. Increase the prospect of a hot item or the best thing since PSLs (Pumpkin Spiced Lattes).

6. Creativity & Novelty

Thinking outside the box with off-the-wall flavor combinations can get your customers talking. No need to play it safe, try something gutsy, something new, something you’ve thought about before, but never dared to try. It’s a limited-time offer, so if it fails, you can always try something else next time. A successful LTO will have customers driving miles and miles just to get their hands on it. Although many LTOs don’t see a sequel, the potential buzz alone makes them worth the try.

If you’re struggling to come up with new ideas, look to the ones who know your menu best, your team members. Chances are, they’ve had ideas of their own about what LTOs might work.

7. Hit That Replay Button

When you find a hit LTO that patrons love, bring it back on a regular basis. Research suggests that returning LTOs are among the most successful, satisfying customers who already love the item and look forward to ordering it again.

Seasonal LTOs fit this approach perfectly, ranking #1 in terms of consumer interest (78%), followed by value-priced  LTOs (76%). The unique flavors available each season invite experimentation, with plenty of demand: 47% of diners (aged 18 – 34) say their menu preferences change with the seasons. Restaurants can capitalize on the popularity of seasonal flavors and items that make sense for their menus.

8. Choose Your Words Carefully

Take extra care in how you name and describe your LTO. Make saying “yes” easy to say for your guests, by carefully choosing the words to name and describe your offering on the menu. Use words that convey how special and unique your LTO is, but stick to terms that customers will understand to prevent a costly error. Crunchy, chewy, smooth, rich, creamy are great textures to get mouths watering.

9. Eat With Your Eyes

We eat with our eyes first, and this still rings true, especially in the age of social media where engaging visuals act as the modern dollar. Therefore, an appetizing photo of your LTO item is a must. Invest the time and money to get mouth-watering images of your new items and share it through social media, email campaigns, and in-store POS materials like posters or table cards.

If you’re the DIY-type, there are an endless amount of online tutorials that can guide you on how to take delicious photos of food with little more than a phone and natural light.

Here’s a few of our favorites:


10. Detail-Oriented

From day one, you’ll want your staff to be educated and prepared to explain your LTOs consistently to guests. Well before the launch, practice executing the item so you can gauge how long it takes to prepare and you can troubleshoot any operational challenges before you invest in the ingredients and launch the product. Allow your service staff to taste the LTO so they can share their personal experience and enthusiasm with customers, and make sure they understand the terminology used to describe it.


Limited-time offers can be unpredictable, so your best idea might not land with your customer base, while your last-second idea might be the one that hits it big. Don’t be discouraged. LTOs are your chance to take risks and BE BOLD. Use these tips to build a basic LTO strategy, then try a few things and see what works.


Resources: General Mills | QSRAutomations | Simplotfoods | Delaget

Women-Owned Businesses: Growth and Sweet Success

We’re seeing more women-owned businesses, more female investors, and—what’s perhaps even more important—more brands waving their “women-owned and operated” flag, like a badge of honor. And we love to see it!

As of 2019, according to the annual State of Women-Owned Businesses Report commissioned by American Express, there were nearly 13 million women-owned businesses in the U.S. The report also states that women-owned businesses generated $1.9 trillion in revenue for the U.S. economy in 2019. The growth rate of the number of women-owned companies was 3.9% annually, between 2014 and 2019, increasing 21% total. This rate is twice the rate for all businesses. Women-owned businesses only represented 4.6% of all businesses, in 1972 and in 2019 they represented 42% of all U.S. businesses, employing 9.4 million workers.

In the same span of time, the number of businesses owned by women of color increased by 43%, doubling the growth rate of women-owned businesses (21%). As of 2019, women of color made up 50% of all women-owned businesses and generated 23% of total women-owned businesses’ revenue, according to the annual State of Women-Owned Businesses Report commissioned by American Express.


Not too different from the challenges of the past, today women-owned businesses are struggling with: access to capital, childcare responsibilities, and the subtle societal prejudice against women entrepreneurs. According to the 2020 report from National Women’s Business Council (NWB), more than 57% of microloans are going to women entrepreneurs, but female founders received only 2.2% of venture capital dollars in 2018.

Growth in funding for women entrepreneurs has not kept pace with the growth of other types of support. While 79% of U.S. women-entrepreneurs feel more empowered now, than they did five years ago, 66% still report difficulty obtaining the funding they need to succeed. What this troubling statistic means is that while women may feel that they have other resources to support their entrepreneurial journey, they’re still not receiving the financial support from investors or VCs needed to get their venture off the ground. According to the 2019 Columbia Business School study, female-led firms are 63% less likely to receive VC funding.


“Finally, women business owners are less likely to seek business loans than male business owners. While just a quarter of women business owners seek business financing, a third of male business owners seek business financing. Though this women in business statistic might paint a picture of tighter budgeting, it could also explain why women-owned businesses contributed to just 4.3% of total private sector annual revenue. If more women business owners seek and gain access to business financing for growth opportunities, perhaps their contribution to US revenue will become more proportional.”

Industry Specific

Female food entrepreneurs are on an upward trajectory. Building businesses, raising money, and curating initiatives and organizations to combat the industry boy’s club, and they’re making incredible meals, beverages, and CPG products while they do it.

According to the NRA (National restaurant Association) more than half of the restaurants in the US have women as full owners or co-owners, with women as about 45% of restaurant managers, which is higher than the 38% of female managers in other industries. Women are simply more likely to hold mid to senior leadership roles in the restaurant industry than other industries.

Over 60% of women have worked in the U.S. restaurant industry at some point in their life, but who manages them can make all the difference in their experience and success overall. Without female leadership, the restaurant’s work culture for females is often described as strained, or even toxic at its worst. The need for gender equity in the workforce on all levels is key to ensuring women have the best opportunity for success.

Many female leaders aim to create work environments they wanted to see when they started out. Little by little, female chefs, managers, and owners are helping change the industry’s perceptions of women from the inside out.

Economy Effected

Undoubtedly, women-owned businesses are driving economic growth in the United States. Again, women-owned represents 42% of all businesses (nearly 13 million), employing 9.4 million workers and generating revenue of $1.9 trillion. Yet significant size disparity exists between these businesses and others. Closing the gap benefits everyone, not just women. More goods and services bought and sold grows the economy.

As women and minorities have a combined buying power of around $10 trillion dollars, or about 66% of total US buying power. When women are given the keys to create something great, we know they reward their communities with re-investment. Buying female truly is buying local.

“Realizing the economic potential of women-owned businesses requires changes in policies, business practices and attitudes. Some changes, such as family leave and affordable childcare, impact all working women while others, such as training and access to capital and markets, are specific to particular segments of business owners. Making meaningful change also requires understanding that women-owned businesses are not monolithic. Factors such as gender, race, ethnicity, entrepreneurial motivation, generation and geographic location make meeting their needs more complex.”

Our Story

As a certified women-owned business, we believe in the advancement of women. More than a third of our management positions are held by women, and 60% of our supervisors have been promoted from within the company. We foster a collaborative environment of cultural vibrancy and inclusion, reflective of our beloved city; learning from different experiences and embracing each other’s strengths.


“Women, in particular, have a natural tendency towards inclusiveness. We champion big goals early on and drive the mission, because we get it. Women have a passion, they create believers. And that energy makes it flow throughout to their teams and to the company. When it comes to long-term goals, there’s a steadiness there, at the same time as, they get the big idea, it’s an awesome combination. Women are collaborative, they think and plan as a team. They bring these certain skills, inclusiveness and their ability to communicate well, and when they’re smart, we’re unstoppable.” – Sandy Solmon, Founder and CEO of Sweet Street Desserts

We reinvest in our community by championing economic development and access to the arts and education. Sweet Street is involved in Downtown Reading Revitalization by joining Reading CollegeTown, The GoggleWorks, and Jazz Fest. This not only beautifies downtown and expands the communal space, but enriches the lives of our community and creates a lasting impact.

We are passionate about buying local when possible, and being corporately responsible. We’ve initiated sustainability programs with suppliers, supporting women farmers via the Honduras Cocoa collective, facility wide recycling program. All of which ensure our community can flourish for future generations. Investing in women-owned businesses truly is buying local.


It’s no surprise that all businesses were affected during the pandemic. However, the impact was felt more strongly by some. “Women, particularly working mothers and Black moms especially, have taken the brunt of national job loss due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Raising a family and juggling work responsibilities was challenging before schools closed and day cares limited capacity; tacking on the complexities of the past year only made it harder.”

The NWBC’s report said that the number of women-owned businesses fell by 25% from February to April 2020. Of the over 1.1 million workers, age 20 or older who dropped out of the labor force in September 2020, 80% of them were women.


Diversity in all its many forms drives innovation. Women have different perspectives, skills and experiences and therefore solve problems in new and innovative ways. As it turns out, women are often more likely than business owners in general, to see a need in the market and build a company to fulfill it. This bodes well for the U.S. economy, but women face more obstacles when starting and growing their businesses, than entrepreneurs in general. Eliminating barriers that hinder the success of women-owned businesses is an economic necessity that will stimulate innovation and improve productivity, which will create jobs, build wealth and grow the economy.



Chicago Tribune | Great Business Schools | Big Ideas | Forbes | State of Women-Owned Report | Small Biz Trends | Foodboro | Try Cake | Fundera | Rewards Network

5 Food Trends Here to Stay in 2021

In many ways, the trends of 2021 will pick up where 2020 food trends were expected to go before they were disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the emerging food trends predicted for last year went into a kind of hibernation, that’s a good starting point for what we’ll see this year. 

That said, 2021 still has its own trend identity, one that is shifting in the second half of the year. Right now, consumers are looking to improve their health, and get back on track. As more people are vaccinated, and feeling safer to venture out, we are seeing them seek out new trends and experiences again. This means striking a balance between indulgence and healthfulness, comfort with a specific awareness of ingredients.

Comfort food

After the year and a half we’ve had, a desire for comfort food comes as no surprise. In fact, 57% of consumers say they’re interested in more comfort food trends this year—second only to health trends, says Mike Kostyo, trendologist for Datassential.

Instead of restaurateurs struggling to find eccentric ingredients or new promotions, 2021 will focus on getting back a sense of balance. People want to gather around the table, socialize and feel safe—so rather than obsessing over a rare new super-food, restaurants will move forward by providing guests with feel-good food and genuine hospitality, filling the need for comfort and warmth during these extraordinary times. 

“For 2021 the trends will go towards comfort and simplicity. This is due to the pandemic, and everyone looking for a sense of comfort and normalcy. Unfortunately, restaurants are also just trying to survive and have limited resources and staffing now, so that will also impact what we all do moving into 2021.” — Michael Schulson, chef and founder of Schulson Collective

Flavor & the Menu’s Dessert Flavor-focus Report speaks to the need of familiar, yet imaginative and translates well into to-go offerings, highlighting a beloved treat – the churro. Head to our recipe page for a spin on this classic.


Specific Spices & Ingredients


Consumers are paying extra-close attention to functional foods, looking for specialty spices on menus. In previous years. Now, the trend for specific spices and ingredients has expanded into front of pack claims for other spices, alliums, fruits and vegetables, like black garlic rather than just garlic. The desire for specific ingredients ties into the macro trend for transparency across the supply chain as consumers want to know more about the foods and flavors they are eating and the craving for uniqueness.

Consumers have an increased interest in their consumption habits, and the storytelling of the products they purchase. This story may include twists on traditional flavors, understanding the cooking techniques that add depth of flavor, or stories built for specific transparency in the products. Examples like Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla, Peruvian Chocolate, or Saigon Cinnamon can be found in our indulgent desserts.


Individual Portions

Not all dessert trends involve exciting new combinations of flavors, and one of the most well-represented trends you’ll be seeing as we move forward with 2021 will be the prevalence of individual desserts that go a step beyond the traditional approach of selling slices of cakes, pies, and cheesecakes. In 2009, the National Restaurant Industry’s survey results showed 83% of chefs stating mono-portion desserts were the next big thing in pastry. Restaurants will want to shift desserts and other food items crafted for ease of portability while still delivering on taste and quality.

Individually portioned and wrapped desserts are ideal to cater to this trend.



Nostalgia Is King

Dessert has always served as a safe haven for diners, a soft landing at the end of a meal where favorite indulgences await. Those pre-covid days were a distant memory for us all and now, people are craving what connects them to life before lockdowns. We’re seeing a rise in flavors that reflect comfort and nostalgia, as most people attach certain flavors to their childhood. Of course, that familiarity doesn’t mean that the dessert category lacks imagination. Cookies jam-packed with cereal have cafe visitors reminiscing of Saturday morning cartoons. Chocolate-chunk cookies remind us of laughing and baking with grandma. S’mores toppings can bring anyone back to sitting around the fire and sharing stories with dear friends.  


Shareables: Dessert Charcuterie Boards

Hot on the heels of jarcuterie, and mail-order charcuterie boards, Pinterest predicts that fancy boards with unique toppings will continue to rise in popularity throughout 2021. However, it’s no longer about just cured meats and cheeses: Bagel or pancake-topped breakfast charcuterie boards, colorful candy charcuterie boards, and snack-attack charcuterie boards will be the casual family meal du jour. Restaurants are taking advantage of the concept as an alternative to buffet displays, catering options, appetizers, and to-go menus. Small bite-sized pieces allow for portion control and share-ability, a concept that consumers are starting to get more comfortable with, again.

“Charcuterie has taken off for many reasons, but one reason is because it’s highly visual. It’s all over social media and the internet, and Millennials in particular reported even more impact on their diets from influencers and social media over the course of the pandemic,” says Sarah Marion, Ph.D., a Seattle, Washington-based director of syndicated research for the market research company Murphy Research. “Back in January a little more than a quarter of Millennials rated influencers and social media networks very influential on their eating habits. As social lives moved online, this number went up, hitting a high point of 41% in September and is currently sitting around 37%.” Searches for breakfast boards went up five-fold, dessert boards three-fold and Mexican charcuterie boards nearly two-fold from 2019 to 2020, according to Pinterest Business.


Full-service restaurants have opened their doors to welcome back customers, in what has proved to be a challenging environment, yet we are still seeing the strength, flexibility and innovation shining through. While consumer-needs evolve, restaurants strive to adapt and comfort, and set new trends for all to cherish.


Resources: Restaurant Dive ; Food & Wine ; Better Homes & Gardens

Ghost Kitchens Scare Up Big Business

Even before the pandemic hit, ghost kitchens were popping up around the country and were shifting the dining experience as we know it. Due to pandemic guidelines, restaurants have turned into ghost kitchens nearly overnight. How are they impacting the industry and will they last even after COVID-19?

Image of DoorDash Delivery on Bicycle

DoorDash Delivery

What are Ghost Kitchens?

Simply, ghost kitchens, also known as virtual kitchens, are bare-boned restaurants without a storefront. Stripped of traditional dining spaces, they serve as large functional kitchens to prepare food for delivery. Various restaurants can operate out of the same space. For example, around this time last year, DoorDash launched a shared ghost kitchen offering four diverse restaurants within the same space. Through their DoorDash kitchen, customers could order from any combination of restaurants in the same order and have it delivered at once, giving consumers more customization and control over their dining experience. Other restaurants may prefer to host their own virtual kitchens while utilizing third-party delivery platforms.

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Why are they trending?

A major benefit for restaurants who transition to ghost kitchens is by cutting their operating costs with fewer employees and less square footage. Companies can streamline operations and focus on creating quality menu items, when they subtract washing dishes and setting tables. For those just starting out, this model cuts cost and excels the process to market and for existing restaurants, executives can expand to new areas or test new concepts, at lower risks.


Image of Young Man working in kitchen

Ghost Kitchens

Now, the ghost kitchen trend has almost become a necessity for nearly every restaurant around the globe. With the emergence of COVID-19 and restricted dine-in guidelines, many restaurants closed their doors to foot traffic, resorting to delivery services like Uber Eats, Grubhub and DoorDash or temporarily closing completely. Ghost kitchens offer the contactless customer model that only focuses on take-out services. These flexible models are also inviting chefs to offer specials and experiment with new ingredients and with digital menus, item changes are made with ease.

The possibilities are endless! Sebes says: “Launch a new concept exclusively in a delivery app. Run multiple concepts from a single location. Meet demand for constant variety. Ghost kitchens and today’s digital-first world make all of this more accessible and manageable. The chefs are constantly getting feedback as part of the delivery app, allowing them to pivot or tweak. If something doesn’t work, move on to try something else without much financial loss.”

Now & Post-pandemic

Globe Newswire said: At the onset of COVID-19, Wingstop Inc., Dallas, moved quickly to close its dining rooms and shift to 100% off-premises. The company was well-positioned based on its pre-COVID investments in digital and technology platforms, allowing for the brand to seamlessly shift from 80% off-premises and adapt to the change in consumers’ dining behaviors. The resiliency of Wingstop was demonstrated in its April 2020 same-store sales growth of 33.4% and 65% digital sales, which included a delivery sales mix of more than 30% of total sales. In efforts to continue this growth trajectory and adjust to the changing landscape, the company opened its first domestic ghost kitchen in Dallas on July 1. It spans less than 400 square feet, compared to Wingstop’s average restaurant footprint at approximately 1,750 square feet, while offering the same full menu.

Image of Wingstop wings, fries and brownie


“We have a goal to digitize 100% of transactions as we drive to become a top-10 global restaurant brand and we believe ghost kitchens are a great step for the brand as delivery and digital sales continue to increase,” says Charlie Morrison, chairman and CEO. The concept was the company’s answer to its customers’ appetite for adventure while acknowledging current travel limitations.

While no one knows exactly how the post-coronavirus world will fare for the restaurant industry, there is no denying that ghost kitchens remain a popular option. For full-service restaurants, they are counting the days to when they can throw open the doors and welcome back their customers. But as full-service restaurants look to expand into new areas, in what promises to be a challenging environment, it’s likely a ghost kitchen model will be on the list of considerations. For starters, ghost kitchens are built to naturally support social-distancing, which is likely to continue in some capacity long after stay-at-home mandates lift.