The world's economic slowdown formed a backdrop as more than thirty restaurant professionals, faculty members, and students met at the School of Hotel Administration in September for a roundtable to examine the latest issues surrounding menu development. The session is one of a series of roundtables from Cornell's Center for Hospitality Research.
With the struggling economy, menu development roundtable participants agreed that menu innovation is a key to encouraging guests to return to a restaurant. Moreover, menu innovation is essential when costs are escalating, so that the restaurant continues to deliver value. Chaired by Professor Alex Susskind, the roundtable participants also focused on the importance of maintaining control over pricing.
Touching on the challenges of product innovation, the roundtable participants emphasized the importance of maintaining a pipeline for new products. Since menu innovation is itself an operating cost, the process must develop menu items that are carefully tested for success when they are rolled out.
Hot topics at the roundtable included molecular gastronomy, which uses science and technology to make food better, the push toward local products and organic products, and animal welfare. These concepts are not unrelated. Looking at the idea of a 100 mile diet and organic products, for example, the participants noted the conflicting issues between buying from, say, a local farm that is not organic or a distant farm that is organic but must ship food many miles to reach your restaurant. Participants agreed that the discussion on this issue is just beginning, and restaurateurs will be working with these concepts for the next several years as they develop new menu items.
A unit of the Cornell School of Hotel Administration, The Center for Hospitality Research (CHR) sponsors research designed to improve practices in the hospitality industry. Under the lead of the center's 65 corporate affiliates, experienced scholars work closely with business executives to discover new insights into strategic, managerial and operating practices. The center also publishes the award-winning hospitality journal, the Cornell Hospitality Quarterly (formerly the Cornell Hotel and Restaurant Administration Quarterly). To learn more about center and its projects, visit www.chr.cornell.edu.
Center partners and sponsors
AIG Global Real Estate Investment, American Airlines Admirals Club, Davis & Gilbert LLP, Deloitte & Touche USA LLP, Denihan Hospitality Group, Expedia, Inc., Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, HVS, JohnsonDiversey, Inc., LRP Publications, Marriott International, Inc., Marsh's Hospitality Practice, Mobil Travel Guide, Nestlé, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Proskauer Rose LLP, Smith Travel Research, Southern Wine and Spirits of America, Inc., SynXis (a Sabre Holdings Corporation), Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces, Thayer Group of Companies, TIG Global, Travelport, WATG, and WhiteSand Consulting.
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