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CHICAGO - One of the foremost food researchers predicts that there is major change in the air for the restaurant industry.
Chicago-based consultant Techonomic Inc says that the market is looking better. Same-store sales are increasing. Restaurant hiring is up. Given this, here are five slides of its top forecasts for 2011.
While this year chefs were made into celebrities, expect next year to see farmers become celebrities .
“We want to know where our stuff is coming from,” says Rita Negrete, senior editor of Technomic. She cites how franchise chain Five Guys Burgers everyday lists the source of its potatoes on the walls of its franchises and restaurants. They are far from alone in emphasizing the source of their food. This year pizza chain Domino’s has emphasized the use of Wisconsin cheese in its pizzas.
“Chains will draw on the glamor from the farm,” says Negrete. Negrete thinks that the emphasis on the quality of the supply-chain needs to have a human face. The next step is something that Chipotle, a chain of non-franchised Mexican-style restaurants, has pioneered. It features Joel Salatin, the farmer behind Polyface farms, a supplier for Chipotle.
Another trend? Food trucks are growing past the boundaries of Los Angeles. And a fusion of ethnic foods is spreading, a trend that has already given birth to the Korean Taco, a combination of Korean barbeque meat and the Mexican taco. Expect more such creative ethnic mixtures.