Seafood Leads Hot Menu Concepts
By Christine Blank, SeafoodSource contributing editor
09 September, 2008
Certain seafood chains are still performing well despite the lackluster economy and seafood dishes are taking center stage in full-service restaurants, according to new research presented at the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Show in Orlando this past weekend.
For example, in the varied menu segment - the fastest growing full-service concept with a 24 percent share of the full-service industry in 2007 - fish tacos are a "hot catch," says Melissa Wilson, principal of Technomic, a foodservice consulting firm in Chicago.
"Consumers do believe fish is healthy and they're not likely to prepare it at home," says Wilson.
In addition, seafood-focused restaurants in general are growing.
Notable examples include Bonefish, which realized sales growth of 24 percent in 2007, and McCormick & Schmick's, which had 16 percent growth last year, according to Technomic.
Global sourcing, sustainability and menu innovations are buzzwords that are important to guests dining in seafood restaurants, according to Technomic. For example, King's Fish House, operated by King's Seafood Co. in Long Beach, Calif., is a hot concept because it focuses on sustainability and fresh food, but is also very family-friendly.
Seafood restaurant operators are also emphasizing the health benefits connected with fish consumption, including omega-3 fatty acids, and from various tilapia preparations.
"Tilapia is becoming ubiquitous. It is a mild fish that is easy to prepare and is very inexpensive for operators," says Wilson.
Seafood restaurants are also highlighting more Asian and Mediterranean flavor infusions, such as Bonefish's Chilean Sea Bass with Mediterranean Sauce.
Meanwhile, family-style restaurants, such as Perkins and Denny's, are adding seafood and shrimp dishes as they look to expand healthy menu options.
"They are adding more dishes like tilapia and other preparations that you would normally have seen at more upscale restaurants, rather than fried fish sticks and similar items," says Wilson.
09 September, 2008