What's Cooking? Creative Restaurant Concepts Ignite Imaginations, Dig Into Opportunities

Posted in Menu Strategy on March 28, 2023

jay-wennington-N_Y88TWmGwA-unsplashWith all the chatter about economic headwinds, steering a successful course for new restaurant concepts may seem problematic. And yet, as the National Restaurant Association reports, pent-up demand for restaurant experiences is whetting operators’ appetite for new ventures.1

As presented in the NRA’s What’s Hot 2023 Culinary Forecast, a cross-section of industry thought leaders and chefs determined that while pricing and value are paramount concerns, the market’s hunger for the “socialization, celebration, culinary exploration” that restaurants bring to the table is robust.1

Dayparts may be blending into each other now that remote work and hybrid office schedules have upended traditionally fixed meal periods, and the round-the-clock availability of off-premises food options have also dramatically altered the foodservice landscape. But while meal solutions to go may be big, the appeal of going out to eat may be bigger than ever in a post-pandemic business climate. 

Compounded by the need to maintain off-premise business built during the pandemic, rising demand for in-store experiences come with equally high expectations. “The challenge for operators is to stay interesting and relevant to attract customers who are looking to experience food they can’t replicate at home,” states the forecast.1 

That said, a couple of up-and-coming restaurant concepts stand out for their signature dishes and culinary ingenuity. 

From Pop-Up to Permanent Home: Fans Flip Over Trill Burgers Brick-and-Mortar Store

Rap music superstar and entrepreneur Bun B has found a home in his native Houston for the brick-and-mortar debut of his wildly popular Trill Burgers concept. Bun B launched Trill Burgers in a series of pop-up locations that were so successful, the opening of a brick-and-mortar restaurant became inevitable. 

The winner of the “Best Burger in America” title from "Good Morning America," Trill sold nearly 12,000 burgers in three weeks at the 2022 Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo.2 A hit at big events like California’s Coachella, Miami’s Rolling Loud and New York’s Rock The Bells, the signature burger is served as either a beef or vegan option, slathered with a special Trill Sauce and topped with the customer’s choice of fixings.2 The concept’s brick-and-mortar location in Houston will open this year in a former James Coney Island hot dog restaurant. “It’s been a long time coming, not just for us, but for anybody that’s had a Trill Burger or wanted a Trill Burger and couldn’t get one,” the rapper-turned-restaurateur explained.2 “We’ve been working hard to find the right location to make it as easily accessible to as many people as possible. I think we found that location, and we can’t wait to open these doors to the city of Houston and eventually the world.”2

Family Style: Grandmas Step Up to the Plate to Make Restaurant a Success

At Enoteca Maria, an Italian eatery in Staten Island, New York, the menu takes the trend of authentic international cuisine to a whole new level. The people preparing the meals aren’t professional chefs—they’re actual “nonnas” (Italian for “grandmothers”) who lovingly cook time-honored family recipes from the old country to the delight of the patrons who pack the 30-seat dining room. Guests book reservations weeks in advance to enjoy the same recipes the nonnas make for their own families—a heritage handed down from generation to generation and shared in classes where the nonnas impart their culinary wisdom to aspiring chefs. 

The original concept consisted exclusively of Italian grandmothers but expanded to include a rotating group of grandmothers from all over the world. As a result, the menu has become diversified with a rich range of culinary influences, including Asian, Latin American and Middle Eastern. Many are grandmothers, but others are not. “They just have to be women that can bring their culture forward,” said owner Joe Scaravella.3 The nonnas have received nightly applause from the guests and been featured in The Washington Post, BBC Travel and Now This News.

While the NRA report determined that a ravenous appetite for restaurant experiences is driving customers to operations like the two profiled here, it’s also important to note that cuisine which satisfies cravings is a determining factor in restaurant success. In fact, the market research firm Datassential found that by far the top motivator for consumers’ last meal away from home was to satisfy hunger, followed by a specific craving (30%).4

As a result, Datassential recommends operators “consider how menu items can capitalize on craveability.”4 The Mondelēz Foodservice portfolio of snack and ingredient options features a wide range of gratifying go-to flavor profiles, from classics like OREO Cookies and CHIPS AHOY! Cookies, to savory favorites including RITZ Crackers.

At Mondelēz Foodservice, our team of Brand Ambassadors consists of acclaimed chefs who use our trusted brand ingredients to develop a wide variety of crave-worthy culinary creations. Browse our Brand Ambassadors page for a feast of ideas and inspiration. For custom menu solutions to meet your operations specific challenges, just reach out below. 


1 National Restaurant Association, What’s Hot 2023 Culinary Forecast

2 Hall, Rashaun, "Bun B’s Wildly Popular ‘Trill Burgers’ To Open Permanent Location in Houston," Foodbeast, December 22, 2023

3 Page, Sidney, “This restaurant is run by grandmothers. Customers clap for them each night,The Washington Post, January 24, 2023

4 Datassential, Foodbytes: When, Where, & What Makes Up The American Meal? 2022

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