Not-So-Hot Trends For 2011

Not-So-Hot Trends For 2011

A slew of restaurant industry prognosticators are already telling us what the new trends will be in 2011. But only Michael Whiteman lets you know what’s on the way out, too. Take a look at his list of “Past Their Sell-by Date” trends before you change your menu or shell out big bucks for a franchise.

Restaurant creator Whiteman heads Joseph Baum & Michael Whiteman Co., which means he has his fingers in a long list of high-profile consulting jobs taking place around the globe. He sees a good year ahead for the upper end of the full-service restaurant spectrum, but so-so results for casual dining.

“With financial sector employees not feeling the rest of the country’s economic pain, business will return to upscale restaurants, especially contemporary ones,” he says. “Average spend may not rebound fully, and lunches will still be weak, but at least seats will be filled at dinner—and not necessarily with coupon-bearing bargain hunters who are something of a plague among recession-battered mid-priced casual restaurants.”

But there will be a few new menu items that could help you show growth. Many of them will be sandwiches, including cemitas (“Mexican sandwiches with high flavor profiles and juiciness) and banh mi (“Vietnamese sandwiches take over the world with their pâté and pickled vegetable fillings now mutating into other glorious flavor combinations”). Also on the rise will be baos (“yeast steamed buns with savory fillings”) and French favorite tartines, which Whiteman notes have “grown from a slice of bread with a simple spread to fancified open-face sandwiches with $15 price tags.” Also on the horizon are a slew of regional American and ethnic sandwich variations, each with an off-the-wall ingredient to give it distinctive flavor.

On which trends is the sun about to set? Here Whiteman minces no words.
• Artisan hot dogs with inventive toppings will be on the downslide.
• Gourmet hamburgers will peak; too many players in a crowded field.
• Slapping bacon onto everything will be so-last-year.
• The novelty of increasingly expensive pork belly will wear off.
• Cupcakes will peak.

We’ll find out later if Whiteman is right. But in the meantime, be very careful if you want to add some of these about-to-lose-their-mojo items to your menu in the hopes of boosting business. We’re not saying it’s absolutely too late to give them a try. Just be ready to move on to something else quickly if one or more of the five items on Whiteman’s hit list don’t seem to be having the desired effect for you.