Sponsored by Gevalia
Sensing what’s around the bend for the beverage industry is vital for restaurant operators planning future beverage menus. As the New Year approaches, three of the most promising sales attractions are a plant-based super beverage, companion beverage bars and house-made signature items. Here’s a look at those on-trend offerings considering ease of implementation, profitability and customization potential.
The next green wave: Moringa
Restaurant operators can follow the example of juice bars and natural foods eateries by exploring moringa, a tropical plant loaded with protein, vitamins and anti-inflammatory properties. Moringa yields a green powdered extract that blends easily into lattes and smoothies.
In step with the trend is The Moringa Tree Café in Elkhart, Ind. Its smoothie menu includes The Ultimate Moringa, made with organic blueberries, banana, avocado, raw honey, coconut milk and moringa. Ruru Juice in San Francisco touts the Moringa Elixir, a vibrant green medley of moringa, cucumber, pineapple, banana, spinach and orange.
Moringa’s health benefits won mention in the Culinary Trends 2018 report by Sterling-Rice Group, a brand consultancy in Boulder, Colo. The report notes that moringa has “far more” protein, fiber, calcium and vitamins than matcha, the powdered green tea that has become popular as a health booster. “Watch for moringa to become the next matcha latte or golden milk (turmeric) latte,” says Sterling-Rice.
- Implementation: A high-functioning blender opens the door to smoothies and shakes.
- Profitability: There’s a large market of health seekers eager to buy premium-priced, high-margin beverages.
- Customization: Operators can offer patrons extra shots of flavor and nutritional add-ons like protein powder, probiotics and calcium.
Companion beverage bars
The hunt for incremental sales is expected to prompt some restaurant operators to install a coffee bar, juice bar, and wine bar on their premises. They offer patrons an additional — and sometimes more affordable — way to experience the brand.
Michael Jordan’s Coffee Bar & Market is a 200-square-foot kiosk accompanying Michael Jordan’s Restaurant in Oak Brook, Ill. Its mission is to drive revenues in the morning and mid afternoon, with a menu of house-blend and single-origin drip coffees, nitro cold brew and kombucha on tap and grab-and-go foods.
Officials of Chicago-based Cornerstone Restaurant Group, operator of Michael Jordan’s, saw an opportunity to provide local office tenants with an upgraded coffee experience. “There were a few coffee places in the area, but none doing what we consider really nice specialty coffees and different sorts of beverages,” says Josh Zadikoff, brand operations manager at Cornerstone.
Zadikoff confirms that the concept is a revenue builder. “We want to give people reasons to come to the coffee bar three or four days a week, in addition to visiting the restaurant,” he says. “So far it is proving successful.”
In his 2018 Hospitality Trend Report, San Francisco-based restaurant consultant Andrew Freeman sees high-end operators opening wine bars within their restaurants to offer patrons an experience that is more casual and affordable, yet still distinctive. “Multiple concepts within the same space minimize risk for operators by driving traffic and optimizing efficiencies,” says Freeman. He cites examples like Bar Crenn by Petit Crenn in San Francisco and Ronsky’s Wine Bar at Ronsky’s, an Italian-style café in Boston.
- Implementation: By adding a blender, juicer or espresso machine and a few seats, an operator can transform an underutilized restaurant nook into a more productive beverage
- Profitability: The profit potential is substantial, compared to letting the space remain underutilized.
- Customization: Flavor shots, alternative sweeteners and non-dairy milks lead the list of customization options for coffee beverages.
With a four-year growth rate of 92 percent, “house-made” ranks as a top 25 beverage term on restaurant menus, per the Chicago-based market research company Datassential.
This do-it-yourself trend promises to alter the drink market in coming years. “There are more and more house-made limeades and lemonades and sodas made from house-made syrups,” says Datassential senior account manager Claire Conaghan. “This gives operators an opportunity to highlight their own brands.”
Roam Artisan Burgers in San Francisco offers house-made artisan sodas in Meyer lemon, ginger-lime, prickly pear, caramelized pineapple and coconut-lime flavors. Lemonade, a Los Angeles-based fresh-and-healthy restaurant chain, features cold-pressed lemonades in flavors such as blood orange, cucumber mint, watermelon rosemary and peach ginger.
- Implementation: It’s easy to create distinctive sodas, lemonades and flavored waters with carbonated water and flavoring agents crafted in-house with fruits, herbs and spices.
- Profitability: Even when made by hand with premium ingredients, house-made signatures maintain a substantial profit margin.
- Customization: Given the consumer appetite for new flavors, there is vast opportunity to personalize house-made creations.
At a time of mounting competition for the consumer dollar, finding additional revenue sources is critical for operators. Stimulating excitement and repeat patronage with a diverse beverage menu is one of the best ways to make this happen.