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National Restaurant Association’s 2012 Top 20 Menu Trends*

1. Locally sourced meats and seafood
2. Locally grown produce
3. Healthful kids’ meals
4. Hyper-local items
5. Sustainability as a culinary theme
6. Children’s nutrition as a culinary theme
7. Gluten-free/food allergy-conscious items
8. Locally produced wine and beer
9. Sustainable seafood
10. Whole grain items in kids’ meals
11. Newly fabricated cuts of meat
12. Farm/estate-branded items
13. Food trucks/street food
14. Artisan spirits
15. House-made/artisan ice cream
16. Health/nutrition as a culinary theme
17. Non-traditional fish
18. Fruit/vegetable kids’ side items
19. Children’s mini-meals (i.e. smaller versions of adult menu items)
20. Culinary cocktails

*Results from the National Restaurant Association’s “What’s in 2012” survey of nearly 1,800 professional chefs.  To see results of the entire survey visit:


The Food Network's South Beach Wine and Food Festival

The Food Network’s South Beach Wine and Food Festival presented by FOOD & WINE will be held February 23-26, 2012.  SOBEWFF will be hosted by Southern Wine and Spirits of Florida and Florida International University and will benefit FIU’s Chaplin School of Hospitality and Tourism Management.  In 2011, attendance at the Festival grew to 55,000.  With 35 to 40 events, the Festival touches all of the bases of the food and drink industries.  There is no doubt that your favorite chef, sommelier, culinary professional or mixologist will be attending!  For more information about the Festival visit


LivingSocial/FRLA Relationship To Promote Online Marketing Efforts

LivingSocial has announced a new relationship with The Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association  to further educate Florida restaurant operators about the benefits of online marketing. As part of the sponsorship, LivingSocial will have a presence at FRLA chapter and statewide events and become one of the go-to marketing industry resources for the association.

LivingSocial provides restaurateurs with an effective, measurable marketing platform to attract and retain new customers. From Instant to Daily Deals to high-end Gourmet experiences, LivingSocial offers a full suite of services to help food service merchants expand their reach and interact with new customers in ways they can customize for their needs.

“We look forward to our partnering with LivingSocial to provide additional guidance to our members about the various marketing options available to improve their bottom line,” said Carol Dover, President/CEO of the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association. “We see this relationship as an opportunity to assist our members in taking full advantage of the many benefits social media marketing has to offer.”

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New Site to Educate Consumers on Differences Between Resorts and Rentals from Individuals

by Michelle F. Lacewell, APR

It’s hot and you’re sandy. You’ve walked back from the beach in the warm summer sun and you’re ready to get back into the air conditioning and relax before dinner. But, you have just realized you forgot your room key. You’re locked out. You call the front desk of the resort for assistance only to be told they cannot help you. Without their help, what are your options?

After trying to pry the door open you notice a tree which reaches your balcony. You decide to climb the tree to get back into your condo. Trying not to draw attention to yourself as you climb, you think, minus your dignity what else have you sacrificed by renting your vacation condo from an individual and not the resort where you are staying?

Though it may sound farfetched, it’s not. During the summer of 2010 at a resort on Panama City Beach, Florida a vacationer did exactly that because she did not rent her condo through the resort. She rented her vacation condo from an individual owner through a website similar to VRBO.

With the lodging industry becoming greatly influenced by owners renting their units directly to consumers, advocacy for professional hotel, lodging and rental management companies is needed. With the story above in mind, and the complex nature of this issue, was born.

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Cool Web Pages

What is foursquare™?

With 10 million users and availability in 6 different languages, foursquare™ is a social networking site that allows users, who must be registered with the network and using a mobile phone, to “check in” and get points or “badges” for checking in.  In addition, users can “connect” with friends.

As a business owner, encouraging your patrons to join foursquare™ and check in at your business may drive traffic to you. Visit for more information!


Top Trends

Ethnic Cuisines and Flavors
1)    Regional ethnic cuisine
2)    Ethnic fusion cuisine
3)    Southeast Asian cuisine (e.g. Thai, Vietnamese, Burmese, Malaysian)
4)    Peruvian cuisine
5)    Latin American/Nuevo Latino cuisine

In Appetizers
1)    Ethnic/street food-inspired appetizers (e.g. tempura, taquitos, kabobs, hummus)
2)    Amuse bouches/bite-size hors d’oeuvres
3)    Warm appetizer salads
4)    Appetizer combos/platters
5)    Dumplings/dim sum


Gaylord Palms ICE!™ and SNOW!

Gaylord Palms Resort has partnered with DreamWorks to present “Orlando’s Coolest Holiday Tradition”.  Two million pounds of ice carved into a “winter wonderland” on 4.5 acres at the Resort.  Shrek the Halls™ ICE!™  and Kung Fu Panda Awesome SNOW!  will be on-hand at the Resort from November 16, 2011 to January 2, 2012.

ICE!™ carvings and a play area will be carved by Chinese artisans and will include five 30-foot ice slides.  SNOW! will feature a 64-foot slide and play area in a “snow village” made from 130 tons of snow.  Gaylord Palms is offering many other Christmas-themed activities including a DreamWorks Scavenger Hunt, Luminescence Live Musical Revue, Visits with Santa, and Gingy’s Gingerbread Decorating.

Resort guests and the public are invited. 


Pest Control for Ticks?

We are all aware that pest control is a necessary component of owning and managing a successful food service or lodging business in Florida’s climate.  From ants, cockroaches and flies to termites, spiders, rodents and bedbugs, Florida’s pest control operators keep fairly busy in our Industry’s establishments.

We know that “Step One” in any pest control program is prevention. Keep pests out.  Don’t provide any “safe harbor” for pests. Seal openings to the outside, don’t leave doors open, etc.

What if pests come into your establishment riding on your guests?  Many food service and lodging businesses in Florida now allow pet dogs to visit along with their owners. Pets harbor pests.

A recent visitor to a Central Florida hotel woke up in a pet-friendly hotel to find that he and his wife had been bitten by ticks.  Each had 2 or 3 ticks on them. The visitor handled the situation correctly, as did the manager of the lodging establishment:  the guest reported the problem; security came to the room to verify the situation; and the lodging manager refunded the guests’ money for the night’s stay. This is another tricky situation that could have been extremely negative, but for the decisive action of the manager.

So remember when you allow pets to visit your establishment, the pets may bring uninvited guests. It is important to be vigilant in your pest control.


33rd Annual Destin Seafood Festival

The 33rd Annual Destin Seafood Festival, presented by the Destin Charter Boat Association and FRLA, was held on Destin Harbor September 30 thru October 1, 2011.  The City of Destin has hosted the Destin Seafood Festival for decades.

This year it incorporated the Seafood Festival, the Destin Fishing Rodeo and the Songwriters’ Festival, 3 days of FREE live music – 3 days, 15 stages and 60 shows. 

BMI brought 16 nationally-renowned songwriters from Nashville and around the U.S. who performed throughout the festival.  For the first time in history, the 2011 festival featured a combination of local music talent performing on one of two main stages, while BMI songwriters performed on the other main stage and in eight restaurants scattered along one-half mile of breath-taking Destin Harbor waterfront.

Along with Festival events, restaurants from around the area provided fresh caught seafood prepared by local vendors. 

In addition, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ representatives were at the festival promoting safe Florida seafood. The event drew more than 50,000 visitors.

Festival Co-Chair Captain Mike Eller and the Destin Charter Boat Association organized over 500 local volunteers who worked countless hours before, during and after the Festival to ensure its success.

Festival sponsors and hosts Legendary and Emerald Grande are to be thanked as well for their tireless efforts.


Facebook and Travel Planning

Miles Media’s summer travel study looks at the resources and tools travelers use to plan a trip and what inspires them to make their selection

Stating that the consumer has a lot of choices in travel planning in today’s fragmented media world is a statement in the obvious.  What continues to not be as obvious though, is which of these channels has a greater influence at any particular point in time.  The answers continue to change based on timing, audience and the evolution of technology. 

Miles Media’s semi-annual State of the American Traveler, Summer 2011 edition, asked U.S. leisure travelers about the resources and tools they use in their travel planning, and what inspires them to make their ultimate selection. 

The role of social media continues to grow in the travel planning process.  The number of leisure travelers who say they used social media to select their final destination jumped 13% since the State of the American Traveler – Winter 2011 edition.  And, of course many are trying to measure the full impact of Facebook and its 750 million users.  In the summer study, a full 80% of leisure travelers report being on Facebook in the last year, and 14% said content on the site inspired their trip.  An overwhelming majority pointed to the content posted by family and friends as the influence, versus content posted by an organization. 

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