Shake Shack's US digital sales surged after the pandemic hit last March and online and in-app sales more than tripled in the fourth quarter compared to the same period in 2019. Early investments in digital paid off for the chain and it's continuing innovative efforts, with plans to roll out revamped versions of its website and mobile app later this year.
The pandemic has fueled a rise in ghost kitchens and digital ordering as consumers have demanded more convenient delivery options. About 20% of restaurant orders are placed digitally now, compared to 5% before the pandemic, according to Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of the National Restaurant Association's Research and Knowledge Group.
A Pret A Manger restaurant in New York City is doing double duty as a ghost kitchen for five virtual brands created by one of the chain's suppliers, sous vide ingredients company Cuisine Solutions. Cuisine Solutions is working with Pret employees who will ultimately take over preparing the made-to-order meals, which are available for takeout and delivery only.
Yelp has updated its site and app to include feedback from users on how specific restaurants are complying with COVID-19 safety requirements, the company said in a blog post. The information will be in a new section dubbed "Health & Safety Measures," and restaurants will be graded with a green check mark if most users report that mask and distancing rules are being enforced or an orange question mark if there are too many reports of rules being broken.
A growing number of restaurants are partnering with Dispatch Goods to offer customers the option of having their takeout food served in containers that can be returned to the restaurant, sanitized and reused. San Francisco's Zuni Cafe uses the reusable dishes for all of its takeout and delivery orders, while others offer them as an option.
Sweetgreen is putting its own stamp on the crispy chicken craze with the launch of the limited-time Crispy Chicken Salad. The salad will be made with crispy rice and chicken that is blackened rather than fried, and Sweetgreen will team up with health-focused social media influencers to promote the dish.
In an effort to build up local minority businesses, Stop & Shop and the grocer's NextGen Associate Resource Group are investing $55,000 in the Greater New England Minority Supplier Development Council. The investment will allow the council to expand its development program, which currently works with 250 companies, and support the integration of minority businesses into the Stop & Shop supply chain throughout the Northeast.
Schnuck Markets has launched the Restaurant Selections by Schnucks program, which offers restaurant-inspired entrees with a different theme every two months. Displayed in the deli case, the choices for January and February reflect the "Eat Good to Feel Great" theme and include roasted salmon, smokehouse rotisserie pork roast and turkey stuffed peppers.
From protein patties to a special compostable wrap for its English cucumbers, a recent podcast from Trader Joe's explored some of the top products driving the booming trend in vegan and plant-based offerings. The list also includes meatless products based on traditional meat, chicken and seafood favorites, ground beef without the beef and vegan banana bread.
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