Trend Watch: Freebies, honey-flavoured condiments, and cocktail kits | Restobiz

By Sophie Mir

With patios finally reopening across Canada, restaurants are keeping things fresh with fun and inventive takeout, delivery, and dine-in options. Keep your eyes peeled for the following trends hitting menus from coast to coast this July.

Freebies With Purchases

As the foodservice industry faces unprecedented challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic, restaurants have had to become creative in coming up with ways to draw in customers. With physical distancing guidelines in effect and most dining rooms still in the process of reopening, we’re seeing operators roll out freebies with purchases as an extra incentive for customers to visit stores.

  • Freebies are often comfort foods, such as chicken wings, queso, fried pizza dough bites, and mozzarella sticks
  • Free with minimum purchases ranging from $20 to $30, or with an entree such as ribs
  • Focus on value and making the most of one’s dollar during the pandemic

Menu Examples:

  • St-Hubert offers free chicken wings with the purchase of ribs
  • East Side Mario’s provides free Budda Boomers (seasoned deep fried pizza dough and a dipping sauce) with a $30 or more purchase
  • St. Louis Bar & Grill is giving away a bottle of its Famous Garlic Dill Sauce with the purchase of the Wing Dinner for Two meal

Honey-Based Condiments

With more than seven in 10 (71 per cent) consumers reporting that they would like more restaurants to offer sauces that feature a combination of flavours, according to Technomic’s 2019 Canadian Flavour Consumer Trend Report, operators are unveiling uniquely flavoured honey sauces and other honey-based condiments in a variety of entrees.

  • Honey-lime dip, honey-citrus vinaigrette, and honey-miso and honey-garlic sauces
  • Spotlighted on burgers and in bowls, quesadillas, and chicken dishes
  • Honey’s sweet taste complements bitter, earthy, and pungent flavours

Menu Examples:

  • Red Robin Gourmet Burgers recently introduced the limited-time Zen Chicken Burger, featuring honey-miso sauce
  • Swiss Chalet‘s Honey Garlic Chicken features the chain’s Famous Rotisserie Chicken glazed with honey-garlic sauce
  • Cactus Club Cafe recently rolled out its Pesto Chicken Quesadilla, featuring honey-lime dip

Adult Beverage Kits

Some provinces, such as New Brunswick and Ontario, have eased up on their alcohol regulations during the pandemic, allowing restaurants to sell adult beverages with takeout and delivery orders. Operators are responding by debuting alcohol beverage kits, offering customers a bit of fun under stay-at-home orders.

  • Frosé and DIY cocktail kits
  • Have everything a customer needs to make signature drinks at home, including mixers and garnishes
  • Can be considered a mood-elevating activity during pandemic

Menu Examples:

  • Earls rolled out its Aperol Spritz Kit, which comes with 750 millilitres of Aperol, a bottle of Villa Marchesi prosecco, a 750-millilitre bottle of Pellegrino sparkling water, and a large orange for garnishing
  • Jack Astor’s Bar and Grill launched its Jack’s at Home Caesar Kit, featuring 200 millilitres of Absolut vodka, two 8-ounce Jack’s Classic Caesar Mixes, 2 ounces of Matt & Steve’s Caesar rimmer, a lime, two pickle spears, two celery sticks, four grape tomatoes, and a recipe card
  • Lone Star Texas Grill debuted its Mar-Go-Rita kits, which include a litre of Classic Lime Margarita Mix, 200 millilitres of Hornitos tequila, house-smoked salt, limes, and oranges

Source: Trend Watch: Freebies, honey-flavoured condiments, and cocktail kits – Restobiz