While health trends can change as quickly as the weather in the Mid-west (a Chicagoan’s favorite saying: If you don’t like the weather, just wait a few minutes), there are some healthy concepts that seem to have some staying power. Embracing these types of concepts by adding dishes to the menu designed with these healthy trends in mind is a sure-fire way to draw new customers to your establishment. One restaurant taking steps in this direction is Chipotle who is now offering “Lifestyle Bowls.” These include healthy trend options such as the Paleo, Keto, and Whole30 Salad Bowls, all of which are available on their mobile app.
If your first response is “Paleo, what?” you may need a quick recap on these growing trends. Paleo and Keto are both low carb diets. Paleo, short for Paleolithic or the early phase of the Stone Age, is based on the premise that our earlier ancestors (cave dwellers) had limited access to greens and grains and, therefore, our bodies are geared toward eating protein from animal products. The keto, or ketogenic, diet is named for ketosis—a metabolic process in which the body burns fat for energy instead of glucose because of the limited intake of dietary carbohydrates. This type of diet is high in fat and low in carbohydrates.
While we may personally disagree with the premises—I’m a whole foods aficionado who believes in a healthy dose of fruits and vegetables—many of our customers are wholeheartedly on the Paleo or Keto bandwagon and are looking for restaurants that cater to their dietary needs.
The Keto or Paleo Bowls
If you’re wondering what makes up a Keto or Paleo Bowl—here you go. A Paleo bowl consists of romaine lettuce, barbacoa, fajita veggies, green salsa, and guacamole while a Keto bowl is filled with romaine lettuce, carnitas, red salsa, cheese, and guacamole. Do you see much difference between the two? A little less veges and a little more cheese? This represents the subtle difference between these two types of diets. You can rest assured, however, that if you put an item on your menu that contains one of these words, guests on this type of diet will order it. Build it and they will come.
Simple substitutes include replacing buns or bread with lettuce (think lettuce wraps) and sauces or marinades with sugar-free versions. And don’t forget the bacon.
Restaurants on the Healthy Trend Bandwagon
Once you’ve developed a few new items that are based on dietary trends, let your present and potential customers know by contacting media outlets and updating your social media portals. Consider publications such as Women’s Health which has published articles listing Keto-friendly restaurants.
A few that made the grade include Chili’s, Red Robin, Buffalo Wild Wings, and Outback Steakhouse. Red Lobster made the list with their Filet Mignon served with two non-starchy vegetables. Even Bonefish Grill is offering items from their grilled fish section (no buns, please) with an extra dose of lemon butter or pesto for added “healthy” fats.
Some restaurants are taking healthy concepts to the extreme. Gyst in Minneapolis is a fermentation bar that serves naturally fermented foods and drinks. These include kombucha (a tea made with sugar, bacteria, and yeast), artisan cheese and salumi (Italian-style cured or preserved meats), sausage, sauerkraut, and lacto-fermented pickles. Yum. These probiotic-rich, gut-friendly foods are believed to improve our digestion and offer a host of additional health benefits such as boosting our immune systems as well as our moods.
In 2017, Gyst won the Sustainability Award at the Minnesota Business Magazine’s Community Impact Awards.
Another restaurant taking “healthy” to the extreme is The Organic Coup, the first USDA certified organic fast food restaurant in America. All of their food and beverages are 100 percent certified organic by the USDA. They also make these claims: No GMO’s, antibiotics, added hormones, harmful chemicals and pesticides.
Just where is this ultra-healthy chicken served? California and Washington, of course.
Your restaurant’s menu may be your most important marketing tool. Adding items inspired by your customer’s dietary trends will create your ultimate goal—brand-toting, life-long customers who appreciate your attention to their needs.