Monday, November 7, 2011

2012 predictions begin: What do YOU see working in CLT?

Here are the top 16 predictions for the coming year from Baum + Whiteman, N.Y.-based international consultants for hotels, restaurants and more, edited for brevity. What can you imagine in Charlotte? What would you be most excited about? (And no fair counting the stuff we already - miraculously? - have):
1. Lots of mom-and-pop disappearances -- "The U.S. could lose 8,000-10,000 restaurants in 2012, few of them belonging to chains."
2. Beyond fusion: "Multi-ethnic, multi-sensory dining experience(s) where flavors clash on purpose" such as "zucchini pizza dabbed with hummus and topped with crunchy wasabi peas" and mostly at lower-cost places. Cowfish and the old Cafe Flavors, anyone?
3. "A widening 'flavor gap'": This means independent operators doing more with more ingredients, and corporate places, "because chains’ financial stakes are so high," serving "the fewest number of items to the greatest number of people."
4. Sandwiches with bread alternatives: flattened tostones, waffles, rice cakes.
5. "Innards and odd parts." Tongue, gizzards, pigs' ears, tripe, chicken livers, beef heart, oxtails. And not just in tacos. (This was predicted last year, too.)
6. Housemade vegetable and fruit pickles - "and there’s a kimchee free-for-all ... Kimchee might be the ingredient of the year."
7. Speaking of which: "At last, Korean hits the charts."
8. Diners with money left, willing to spend it on... 8a. Less comfort food and more invention (like mac-and-cheese with pork rillettes and even more gourmet burgers); 8b. Earlier cocktail hours and later dinners; and 8c. "Round things that go pop in the mouth" such as "kimchee- and parmesan-filled arancini, fried goat cheese balls, spherical falafel, meat balls of all kinds ... mini sandwiches ... Japanese snacky things."
9. Beer gardens.
10. Food truck operators opening brick-and-mortar shops.
11. Foragers and "wildcrafters," with "upscale chefs rushing to harvest dinner from the underbrush and under rocks – or assembling dishes that looked like they might be untamed gardens." (Charleston's McCrady's gets a mention here, and specific items to watch for are listed: white acorns, tips of fir needles, “dirt” made of dried and crumbled mushrooms, black olives, sumac, and desserts "growing out of chocolate 'humus'".
12. Japanese craft beers.
13. Less stacked-high presentations and more "dribble art": stringing out ingredients in "caterpillar-like lines."
14. Peruvian food.
15. The real peak in gourmet burgers (B+W says it was wrong to predict a 2011 peak).
16. And three "cautionary trends" -- misuse of words such as "artisan" and "local"; oversupply of farmers' markets; and too many chefs smoking too many foods.

Update: A great question from a commenter leads me to this addition: B&W's 2011 predictions, in a nutshell. I'd say overall there were some good picks, because you have to view it from a national perspective, but misses and premature pushes, too. What say you?
1. Old Italian returns.
2. Business returns to upscale restaurants, especially contemporary ones.
3. Drug stores and convenience stores ramp up "grab-and-go" to compete.
4. Food trucks sprawl.
5. Korean food! And tacos with everything.
6. Gourmet ice pops will be everywhere -- but new flavors (like mango-chile or jicama-orange) will be even more so, in cocktails and sauces.
7. Restaurateurs will "make customers unwelcome" by not taking credit cards, nixing reservations, raising prices on wines by the glass.
8. "Gross is good": "look for chains to concoct more calorie bombs."
9. Breakfast all the time.
10. Grits as an all-purpose starch.
11. Gluten-free menus and other -free stuff.
12. "Impromptu" food places popping up all over.
13. Sandwiches by other names, cemitas to baos.
14. Out in '11: artisan hot dogs, gourmet burgers, bacon on everything, cupcakes.
15. More and more couponing.


Anonymous said...

I totally agree with the overuse misuse of the word "artisan". In Harris Teeter now they are selling "aritsan" hummus. Give me a break! :-)

Anonymous said...

What were the predictions for 2011 and what is your take on their accuracy?

charlotte ad agency said...

We would need more french restaurants!