Restaurant Development & Design

March-April 2015

restaurant development + design is a user-driven resource for restaurant professionals charged with building new locations and remodeling existing units.

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6 • R E S T A U R A N T D E V E L O P M E N T + D E S I G N • M A R C H / A P R I L 2 0 1 5 Editor's Letter Sails Up! U nless perhaps you're in New England, where you could still be shoveling your way out from under epic snowfalls, 2015 got off to a refreshingly positive start. Key indicators — sharply falling gas prices, a dramatically improved job market and rising wages, in particular — point to this being a year in which restaurant companies may be able to fnd real, sustainable growth. In January, Technomic revised its industry forecast for the year, now antic- ipating 4 percent nominal growth — up from its initial 3.1 percent prediction. That compares to 2.9 percent in 2014. The National Restaurant Association, too, remains relatively upbeat, predict- ing a 3.8 percent gain for industry sales this year. Boosts in discretionary income saw an additional $3.2 billion spent in restaurants in January of this year as compared to June of 2014, ac- cording to the NRA. As Bob Goldin, executive vice president at Technomic, points out, we may not yet be back to boom times, but foodservice is indeed showing signs of sustainable growth and acceleration. "While the industry does face chal- lenges, including oversupply, emerging retail channel competition and maturity of many restaurant chain segments, we do have the wind at our backs," he says. Economic improvement is also putting more RFPs in designers' and contractors' inboxes, as clients ramp up expansion and renovation initiatives. Englewood Construction president Bill Di Santo recently noted that all signs point to a "very robust pipeline across product types. As consumers look to pay for experiences that can't be replicated at home or online, restaurant construction for fne dining, fast casual and fast food concepts should all see a steady uptick." It's a welcome change to have the stiff headwinds faced over the past few years fnally shifting. The big challenge now is to fgure out how to best capital- ize on the improving climate and proft from lessons learned during the reces- sion. Economic improvement is great, but without strategy and innovation it'll get you just so far — a lesson that some legacy chains are learning the hard way. So where's the big focus right now? For most restaurant development pro- fessionals it's two-fold: reining in costs while simultaneously creating unique experiences on which increasingly savvy and still-skittish consumers are willing to spend their new discretionary dollars. This issue of rd+d is chock full of inspiring examples of operations doing both: showcasing smart, nimble growth strategies and fat-out gorgeous designs that welcome consumers with comfort and pizzazz. With the economy fnally turning around, they've got their sails up and wide open. Do you? Drop us a line or catch up with us at Restaurant- Point and let us know how you plan to catch the breeze this year. DANA TANYERI, Editor-in-Chief dana@zoombagroup.com

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