Off the Menu: Friendly’s, Dairy Queen Score High in Frozen Treats Survey


At the end of July, Restaurant Business released another in its series of “most wanted” lists. Developed using data from Technomic, Inc., a Chicago-based consumer research company, the lineup measures customer preferences for restaurant brands across various product categories.

The most recent “Top Ten” in palatability describes consumer feelings toward a hot-weather staple, ice cream, and ranks chains where ice cream deserves “appetizing” status.

Of the locally available brands on the list, Friendly’s Restaurant ranked eighth, with a third of survey respondents rating it as “enjoyable”. Friendly’s sundaes received special mention, being described as “awesome” and “delicious”, with creations like Reese’s Pieces sundae receiving praise from customers.

Another well-established ice cream brand, Dairy Queen, ranked sixth on the top ten list. DQ’s “Blizzard” frozen treats were the most frequently cited reason for the chain’s appeal, although sundae creations like the DQ Banana Split also received accolades.

There is a Dairy Queen location in Greater Springfield on Memorial Drive in Chicopee as well as a DQ Treat Shop seasonal candy store on Enfield Street in Enfield.

Scoop store specialists like Ben & Jerry’s and Carvel tend to dominate the top of the list.

Cold Stone Creamery, with its unconventional flavors and customizable blends, ranks fourth on the list, with more than half of respondents describing Cold Stone’s creations as “irresistible.” Cold Stone’s ice cream cakes and waffle bowls were also cited as customer favorites.

A Cold Stone Creamery location is part of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame complex in Springfield, where it operates seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Baskin-Robbins, which is number one on the wishlist with a score of 66%, is cited for the range and intensity of its flavors. The chain does not operate here in western Massachusetts, but does have locations in West Hartford and Glastonbury, where it is co-branded with Dunkin’ outlets.

Locally, of course, there are plenty of ice cream options that would easily find a place in any WestMass “craveability” top 10. Operations like Herrell’s Ice Cream in Northampton town center and Alvin Rondeau’s Dairy Bar in Palmer have been satisfying ice cream cravings for decades, while a host of new scoop shops in the Pioneer Valley ensure the area remains the nirvana of ice cream lovers.

The complete list of “Top Ten” Restaurant Business ice creams is available at restaurantbusinessonline.com/consumer-trends.

Dine Out Boston, the Hub’s semi-annual restaurant week promotion, begins August 7 and ends August 20.

Hosted by the Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau, Dine Out Boston offers prix-fixe lunch menus at $22, $27, and $32 and three-course dinners at $36, $41, and $46. More than 70 restaurants are registered for the event, with a full range of venues and cuisines on offer. As is customary, restaurant participation on Saturdays is at the discretion of each operation.

As part of the promotion, Dine Out Boston is running a social media contest for diners of the week at the restaurant. A number of Boston hotels also offer special accommodation packages for those looking to plan a multi-day getaway around Dine Out Boston.

The Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau maintains an online directory of Dine Out restaurants in bostonusa.com/dine-out-boston. The Visitors Bureau also provides information at (888) SEE-BOSTON.

Max’s Downton in Hartford is promoting what it calls “the ultimate steak experience” this summer.

Every Friday night, the restaurant offers its 40-ounce tomahawk steak as part of a three-course dinner for two.

The fixed price meal includes two salads, two sides and two desserts made on site. This line of desserts includes a classic baked retro Alaska.

Complementary valet parking is available at the restaurant’s main entrance.

For more details (and to make a reservation), call (860) 522-2530.

On Saturday August 6, the Spencer Food Truck Festival and Craft Fair will be held at the Spencer Fairgrounds in Spencer.

Hosted by Boylston-based WooTrucks, the festival will run from noon to 5 p.m. Admission is $3, with tickets available online at wootrucks.square.site.

WooTrucks answers at (508) 612-4583.

In a late July presentation to Wall Street analysts, McDonald’s Corp. described the chain as “cautious” about consumer sentiment.

Although McDonald’s sales in the United States rose nearly 4% in the second quarter of 2022, the number of customers remained stable, suggesting that the revenue increases were the result of price increases. McDonald’s continues to report that some customers, particularly low-income ones, seem to be opting for cheaper alternatives to the Golden Arches menu.

Nonetheless, the chain plans to “roll prices up” with frequent small increases in the coming months.

A big fast-casual brand, Chipotle Mexican Grill, has a more aggressive pricing policy.

While it also admits to seeing low-income customers “stepping back,” Chipotle forecast menu prices to rise 4% in August. The chain recently increased its prices by around 8% in 2021 and 10.5% earlier this year.

Chipotle management is said to be confident that the planned price increases will not have a negative impact on the company’s bottom line, as the chain’s customers tend to come from, in their own words, “low-income households raised”.

The Massachusetts Department of Transitional Assistance recently announced a pilot program that will allow restaurants and food trucks to participate in the SNAP (“food stamp”) program.

The initiative will allow local restaurants and food trucks that provide counter service to accept SNAP benefits as payment. As part of an effort designed to target those who may have difficulty cooking and/or preparing meals for themselves, the SNAP Restaurant Meals Program will begin in fall 2022.

Restaurants and food trucks interested in the program can find more details at Mass.gov/SNAPRestaurants. Applications for the restaurant to accept SNAP benefits end August 31, 2022.

Poland Culinary Vacations has announced a seven-day “cultural and culinary adventure” for this month of October.

“Cooking Your Way from Krakow to Zakopane” will include a series of hands-on, demo-style cooking classes at various locations visited as well as cultural tours. The tour runs from October 2-8, 2022.

More details of the route can be obtained by going to PolandCulinaryVactions.com or by calling (888) 703-8130.

Last week, Dunkin franchisees in Western Massachusetts presented Shriners Hospital for Children in Springfield with a check for $25,000, a contribution that represented the total amount raised at Dunkin’s Iced Coffee recent fundraiser. Day.

Dunkin’ stores in Hampden, Hampshire and Franklin counties all donated $1 for every iced coffee sold on May 25.

Red Robin Gourmet Burgers and Brews currently offers a Savory Steakhouse Burger. Glazed with A.1. sauce and topped with cheddar cheese, black peppercorn bacon and fried onions, the burger is also topped with garlic mushrooms and gets a smear of roasted garlic aioli on its brioche bun.

Red Robin’s signature steak fries get the “loaded” treatment in another limited-time offering, a side dish of loaded baked potato fries.

Topped with bacon bits, the fries are also topped with cheese sauce, shredded cheddar, red onion, diced tomatoes and sour cream.

There are Red Robin locations at Holyoke Crossing in Holyoke and Enfield Square Shopping Center in Enfield.

Organizing efforts at Starbucks continue, with workers at more than 200 locations now represented by Starbucks United, an affiliate of the Service Employees United Union. An additional 100 to 150 Starbucks stores are currently awaiting action from the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) regarding their individual demands to unionize.

While the number of unionized locations is small compared to the nearly 10,000 Starbucks outlets in the United States, the continued momentum of the organizing campaign is worrisome for both the Starbucks company and the industry. of the restoration as a whole.

Chipotle Mexican Grill, which was facing a unionization effort at a restaurant in Augusta, Maine, closed the location for good, citing chronic staff shortages.

Employees of a second Chipotle restaurant in Lansing, MI also filed for election with the NLRB. This group of workers coordinates its efforts with the formidable International Brotherhood of Teamsters.

Large restaurant chains whose outlets are mostly company-owned appear to be particularly vulnerable to this current wave of union representation efforts.

Hugh Robert is a faculty member of the Hospitality and Culinary Arts program at Holyoke Community College and has over 45 years of experience in the restaurant and education sectors. Robert can be reached online at [email protected].


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