Fresh Stuff: Crispy, Creamy, Crunchy, Cool

A BERRIED MENU: Summer Berry Fest fare at Not Your Average Joe's.


Your customers know they should be eating more fruits and vegetables. Reminders are everywhere, thanks to headlines and the 2005 USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans that emphasize the importance of fruits and vegetables in the diet. That can be good news for restaurants, too: Fresh fruits and vegetables offer a variety of promotional possibilities for on-premise operators.

Produce for Better Health Foundation (PBH), member and chair of the national 5 A Day Partnership, offers information about how to package and present the benefits of fruits and vegetables in a way that can help you increase sales. At last year's 5 A Day Foodservice Summit in Monterey, CA, foodservice operators heard Joe Derochowski of NPD Foodworld discuss the gap between fruit and vegetable consumption at home and away from home.

For example, while 98% of surveyed consumers reported eating fruits and vegetables at home, only half reported eating them regularly in commercial establishments. Marketing opportunities presented at the summit included offering out-of-the ordinary side dishes and expanding salad offerings, as well as revising kids' menus.

For more information on this topic from the Foundation, call PBH Foodservice Director Brenda Fried Humphreys at 302-235-2329, or visit the PBH website at www.5aday.org [2].

Meanwhile, summer is the season for running special promotions. Take berries, for instance. At the Dartmouth, MA-based Not Your Average Joe's, the Summer Berry Fest ran from June 15 to July 13. Featured were locally grown strawberries, raspberries, blueberriesand cranberries. Berryinfused-menu items included mixed berry smoothies, grilled halibut basted with freshsqueezed lime and cilantro served with fresh strawberry salsa, and creme brulee cheesecake with mixed berries.

According to the company's senior v.p. of food and beverage, Tim Soufan, the goal is to incorporate locally grown fruits and vegetables in menu items.

Similarly, at Newport Beach, CA-based Ruby's Diner, the Ruby's Diner Strawberry Patch Promotion ran during May and June. Ruby's Diner is a 38-unit company featuring 1940s style diners. Promotional menu items included the Strawberry Split, and a Strawberry Cheesecake Shake. The latter combines a slice of cheesecake and strawberries, blended into a signature Ruby's shake.

Red Rock Bistro in Swampscott, MA offers a seasonal berry-rich dessert platter featuring a mini-strawberry shortcake ice cream sandwich, dried strawberry "leather" and marbled strawberry cheesecake enhanced with strawberry coulis.

The following recipes feature an assortment of fruit and vegetable ideas to capture your customers' attention.