Barbecue Moves from the Backyard Grill to Restaurant Menus


While barbecue is synonymous with summertime, leading restaurant operators have picked up on the trend and many are using limited-time offers to feature barbecue throughout the summer and even as a winter-time meal.Adding new barbecue offerings to menus could boost sales for truckstop and travel plaza operators and industry suppliers while also increasing customer satisfaction.

“Barbecue is increasingly prevalent on menus,” said Darren Tristano, executive vice president of the research firm Technomic. “More than half of all operators we track—57 percent—menu at least one dish with barbecue sauce. Whether it’s introduced in the preparation or as a flavor, barbecue is very versatile and, more importantly, very different depending on regionality.”

To help operators stay current on this new trend, industry suppliers may want to share the findings of Technomic’s recent report on barbecue. Technomic said that more than 63 percent of the top 500 restaurant chains offer barbecue as a flavor, ingredient or preparation style. Restaurant operators incorporate barbeucue into their menus with a diverse array of methods, and Technomic said opportunity still remains for the category to grow.

For example, use of barbeuque sauce is up over 5 percent of the past year. A large majority of all barbecue sauce mentions don’t have a flavor associated with the sauce, indicating large opportunities for operators to offer more innovative barbecue sauce flavors. Among sauces with a flavor associated with them, sweet/honey-style barbecue sauces are declining, while spicy/pepper varieties are gaining.

At barbecue concepts, coleslaw is the most commonly offered side dish, followed by French fries and baked beans. Smoked is the most commonly used barbecue preparation, and pork is the most commonly barbecued protein.

{HBMHighway Business Matters is a brief semi-monthly newsletter created exclusively for companies that provide products or services to the truckstop and travel plaza industry. Highway Business Matters will keep you informed on trends, tactics, and tips to help you connect to the $65 billion truckstop and travel plaza industry. 

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Mindy Long's photo

Mindy Long

Before launching a full-time freelance career, Long edited NATSO's Stop Watch magazine. Prior to that Long worked as a staff reporter for Transport Topics, a weekly trade newspaper, covering freight transportation, fuel and environmental issues. In addition to covering the transportation sector, Long has written, reported and edited for a variety of media outlets. She was the Washington correspondent for WCAX-TV (CBS) in Burlington, Vt., a criminal court reporter in Chicago and a freelance copy editor for Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine in Washington D.C. Long hold a master’s degree from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism in Evanston, Ill., and a bachelor’s degree in Communications from Westminster College in Salt Lake City.More
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