2017 Brew in Review and News from Lidia and Ludo

The Friday Jr. edition of MRM’s Daily Bite features The Brewer’s Association, Restaurant Revolution Technologies, A&W, Lidia Bastianich, as well as GLOBAL Cutlery USA and Ludo Lefebvre.

Send news items to Barbara Castiglia at bcastiglia@modernrestaurantmanagement.com. 

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The Year in Beer

Strong brewery growth, increased beer tourism and the launch of the independent craft brewer seal—with more than 2,700 craft brewers signed on—were all part of a watershed year for craft beer in 2017. The Brewers Association (BA)—the not-for-profit trade association dedicated to small and independent American brewers—looks back on the defining beer moments of the year.

“Craft brewers continue to thrive, if at a slower pace, fueled by a passionate community dedicated to bringing innovation, jobs and beer across America—on Main Street and beyond,” said Bart Watson, chief economist, Brewers Association. “Today, 83 percent of the population lives within 10 miles of a local brewery, meaning that the positive impact of breweries is being felt in communities all over the country.”

Of note in 2017:

  • Steady Growth: 6,000 breweries were in operation during 2017—with 98 percent of them small and independent craft brewers.
  • Jobs and Economic Impact: The BA’s Economic Impact Report, a biennial analysis featuring economic data of craft brewing for all 50 states and the District of Columbia, showed that craft brewers contributed $67.8 billion to the U.S. economy in 2016, a 21.7 percent increase from 2014. Craft brewers were responsible for more than 456,373 full-time equivalent jobs, a 7.5 percent increase from 2014, with 128,768 of those jobs directly at breweries and brewpubs.
  • Independent Craft Brewer Seal: To help educate beer lovers about which beers are independently produced, in June the BA launched a seal touting independent craft brewers. Featuring an iconic beer bottle shape flipped upside down, the seal captures the spirit with which craft brewers have upended beer, while informing beer lovers they are choosing a beer from a brewery that is independently owned. To date, more than 2,700 small and independent craft brewing companies, representing more than 75 percent of domestic volume, have signed on to use the seal.
  • Can’t Beat ’Em? Buy ’Em: Take Craft Back, a tongue-in-cheek crowdfunding campaign to raise $213 billion to purchase Anheuser-Busch InBev, was launched to draw attention to the lack of transparency and growing disparity in marketplace influence between small and independent brewers and Big Beer. Nearly 12,000 craft beer lovers have pledged their support.
  • Bipartisan Beer Support: The Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act (CBMTRA), championed by Reps. Erik Paulsen (R-MN) and Ron Kind (D-WI) and Sen. Bob Portman (R-OH), was reintroduced in the 115th Congress and has reached a majority of support in both houses. If passed, the bill—which was added as an amendment to the larger Senate Tax Reform Bill in November—would significantly reduce the federal excise tax on the first 60,000 barrels of any domestic brewery that produces fewer than 2 million barrels a year and would lower the federal excise tax on barrelage up to 6 million barrels.
  • Homebrewing Heats Up: There are currently an estimated 1.1 million homebrewers in the U.S., and in 2017 homebrewers produced more than 1.4 million barrels of beer—equaling one percent of total U.S. beer production. The National Homebrew Competition, hosted by the American Homebrewers Association, continues to be the world’s largest beer competition with 8,618 entries from 3,530 homebrewers worldwide.
  • Beercations and Tap Rooms Are Boomin’: Beer tourism is growing, with the average craft drinker visiting 3.5 breweries near their homes and 2.5 breweries within two hours’ driving distance. Plus 64 percent surveyed said visiting a brewery/tap room was a new or different beer drinking occasion, indicating brewery visits have created a new sales channel for beer.
  • #GivingBack: American craft brewers are not just great at making flavorful beer—they are also a force for good. Craft brewers donated an estimated $73.4 million to charitable causes in 2016, up from $71 million in 2014.

“This has been an incredible year for the craft beer community with both challenges and successes. Emphasized more than ever before is the need to advocate for and educate beer drinkers on the importance and value of craft brewers to our nation and our culture,” said Julia Herz, craft beer program director, Brewers Association. “What is especially gratifying is watching the positive impacts beer tourism and independent breweries are having on local communities.”

Restaurant Revolution Technologies, Inc. Completes Round of Funding

Restaurant Revolution Technologies, Inc. (Revolution) has completed its Series B round of funding, bringing the restaurant-specific SaaS (software as a service) company’s total funding to date to $23.5 million.  James A. Cutri, a private angel investor, led the funding round, which included previous investors.  The new use of proceeds is slated to drive growth through continued software development and innovation, strategic partnerships, marketing and sales related initiatives.

Revolution also recently announced the hiring of Brad Duea, a former Sonos, T-Mobile and Napster executive, as Chief Executive Officer.  Duea has been leading the company’s new strategic direction to capitalize on the off-premise opportunity (takeout, delivery, catering) and was also primarily responsible for spearheading the recent Series B round of funding.

Brad Duea

“Revolution continues to evolve as a powerful innovator of off-premise technology and services for restaurants in a time when restaurant traffic is migrating from dining-in to off-premise – in particular online ordering and delivery,” said Duea. “The new funding allows us to continue to innovate and enhance our Order One platform and related services to powerfully address the enormous off-premise opportunity.  As the off-premise partner for restaurants, Revolution remains committed to providing restaurants the most comprehensive direct, omni-channel ordering capabilities for takeout and delivery with the best overall experience for the customer.”

“Revolution’s offering is well-timed with the rapidly increasing demand for solutions that help restaurants build a direct off-premise offering to satisfy consumers’ desire for convenience,” said James Cutri.  “Revolution’s Order One platform, with its delivery enablement capabilities, is a powerful solution for the industry and I am excited to collaborate with Brad and the team as they work to build a great company in an exciting category.”

“All of us at Revolution are grateful for the support of our investors and are excited for what’s in store for 2018. We are well poised for substantial growth which is a direct result of our unwavering passion to support our restaurant partners in their pursuit of growth related to the off-premise opportunity,” said Duea.

With this investment, Cutri has joined Revolution’s Board of Directors.  Further financial terms of this deal have not been disclosed.

A&W’s Franchise Focus

A&W has nearly 1,000 locations worldwide, with more than 630 in the U.S. The company added 15 domestic locations in 2017, and it is on target to open 20 in 2018. The brand has seen an average sales increase of nearly 30 percent between 2011 and 2017.A&W

The new website comes amid an expanded franchising focus that includes hiring Franchise Performance Group, the nation’s top franchise consulting and digital lead generation firm, and the addition of internal development staff. In January, A&W will begin an aggressive digital media advertising campaign targeting independent and multi-unit operators.  Earlier this year it kicked off a comprehensive public relations program to educate potential owners about the A&W Restaurant brand.

The revamped website provides an in-depth look at A&W’s business model, such as investment and startup costs, financial performance and available territories. It also features interviews with A&W franchisees and executives. 

“In addition to the brand’s longevity, A&W is unique because it is owned and operated by franchisees. They have a true voice in every decision that affects the brand,” said CEO Kevin Bazner. “After acquiring A&W we first focused on stabilizing the business and growing profitable store sales. With this accomplished, we are ready to make a big push forward,” he added.

 “We are excited to work with the A&W team at such a pivotal time in its history,” said Joe Mathews, Franchise Performance Group CEO. “With the implementation of this new program, A&W is in an excellent position to grow in 2018 and beyond.”

 Lidia Bastianich Salutes Veterans

This holiday season, Lidia Bastianich pays tribute to the military men and women who have sacrificed so much and continue to give back to their country.

Lidia Celerbates America: Homegrown Heroes, premiering on PBS on December 15.

In LIDIA CELEBRATES AMERICA: Homegrown Heroes, a new television special co-produced with public media powerhouse WGBH, Lidia Bastianich journeys across the country—from just outside of Buffalo to rural farm areas of West Virginia to Kentucky and finally to the West Coast—to farm with and cook with veterans who have found a new way to help themselves and others on the homefront. She then pays homage to them by cooking them a Lidia-inspired meal in California, the breadbasket of America. The show premiers on December 15.

A life-long believer in the power of food as the tie that binds us together, Lidia celebrates food diplomacy and supports our troops in Homegrown Heroes, a film that shares personal stories of triumph, struggle and resilience from men and women in the Armed Forces who are making the transition from the military to a new life dedicated to farming.

For many veterans, re-entering civilian life and the workforce can be challenging due to physical limitations, emotional trauma or battle scars. Lidia visits veterans who are growing food, beekeeping, raising livestock, maple sugaring, and more. The types of farming may vary—rural farming, urban farming, micro farming, fish farming, orchard farming—but the outcomes are similar. Transitioning to this new life is therapeutic and helps them reconnect in meaningful ways with their communities.

“Food feeds our souls. It is the single great unifier across all cultures. The table offers a sanctuary and a place to come together for unity and understanding,” says Bastianich. “Returning home can be a tough adjustment for our military men and women, but LIDIA CELEBRATES AMERICA: Homegrown Heroes shows how dedicated veterans are finding food and farming to be a rewarding path back to purposeful civilian lives.”

LIDIA CELEBRATES AMERICA: Homegrown Heroes culminates in a festive celebration with veteran farmers joining Lidia for a large family-style dinner at a picturesque vineyard in Woodside, CA, where Lidia prepares a meal of braised short ribs, stuffed tomatoes, mashed potatoes with green beans, stir-fried patty pan squash with peppers, and more. The dishes are inspired by her travels and made from ingredients gathered at a local farm.

To connect with veteran farmers across the land, Bastianich teamed up with Farmer Veteran Coalition, an organization that mobilizes veterans to feed America and transitions them from military service to farming.

The Featured Veterans

Mark and Denise Beyers (East Aurora, NY) were high school sweethearts who fell in love, then joined the U.S. Marines together. Mark lost his right arm and leg in an IED explosion while deployed in Iraq. The couple has a 15-acre ranch near Buffalo where they farm maple trees for syrup, raise turkeys and chickens, and sell eggs and honey.

Alvina Maynard (Richmond, KY), a US Air Force veteran and reservist, finds humor and healing in the herd of alpacas she raises for fiber, wool, and meat on her Kentucky ranch. She talks of the pleasures of farm life and the value of hard work and caring for living things.

Edgar Hercila (Anaheim, CA), is a first-generation American and a U.S. Army Corporal who served in Iraq, where he was tasked with agricultural development and rebuilding. He continues to serve his country as an urban farmer and CEO of an organic company that utilizes hydroponic and aquaponics technologies–an entirely sustainable type of gardening. He has created a symbiotic aquaculture system for raising tilapia and growing basil.

Nate Looney (Anaheim, CA) is a Sergeant in the National Guard who was on duty in New Orleans when the levees broke after Hurricane Katrina, and who later served in Iraq. He’s a fifth-generation farmer. Today, Nate is working closely with fellow veteran Corporal Hercila, growing microgreens through hydroponics and aquaponics, which uses water instead of soil to farm. He thinks food security is an important issue and believes veterans have the “never quit” attitude that all good farmers need to possess.

Jon Darling (McClellanville, SC) a veteran U.S. Army Ranger, enlisted in the military after 9/11, and worked six deployments in four years to Iraq and Afghanistan in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. After the military, he fought depression and even had a few run-ins with the law. Farming became the answer for him, providing him with purpose and helping to relieve his PTSD. He and his wife began by sheep farming and now raise hybrid hogs on their six-acre farm in South Carolina.

Calvin Riggleman (Loom, WV), a US Marine veteran known to friends as “Bigg Rigg,” returned from Iraq’s front lines to work on his family’s 134 acres of land, which he grew up farming in the hills of West Virginia. He grows fruits and vegetables, manages a farm stand, travels to farmers’ markets, makes his own jams, jellies and sauces, and distills several kinds of local moonshine from the produce he grows.

Kelly Carlisle (East Oakland, CA) became an urban farmer to give back to the poor, tough neighborhood where she grew up. Gardening taught her that growth—including growing your mind, your body, and your ideas–starts with a seed. After serving as an Operations Specialist in the US Navy and Navy Reserve, she founded a non-profit urban farm project to serve at-risk youth.

Matt Smiley (Davis, CA) is a former paratrooper and disabled veteran who works on an eight-acre farm. As US Army Veteran Outreach Coordinator for the Farmer Veteran Coalition he trains other veterans to help them find meaningful careers in agriculture. He says farming feels similar to deployment because it requires being outdoors, incredible teamwork, and hard work, and it gives a sense of purpose.

Improve your Knife Skills

GLOBAL Cutlery USA, distributor of stainless steel products made in Japan, released the first of eight videos for its new series “Ludo Cuts with GLOBAL Knives” starring renowned chef Ludo Lefebvre on its website. A new video will be released monthly and Lefebvre, GLOBAL Cutlery USA’s official brand ambassador, will demonstrate various tips and tricks using his favorite GLOBAL knives.

“Ludo Cuts with GLOBAL Knives” Video Series Starring Chef Ludo Lefebvre Released Exclusively on GLOBAL Cutlery USA’s Website (PRNewsfoto/GLOBAL Cutlery USA)

The first video, “The Chef and his Knives,” shows Lefebvre teaching basic skills to help gain confidence when handling sharp knives in the kitchen.    

GLOBAL Cutlery USA launched its website in August.

“‘The Ludo Cuts with GLOBAL Knives’ series was created to help viewers discover which knives suit their kitchen needs best. Ludo has been a GLOBAL fan for more than 20 years and he offers valuable advice as a professional chef and consumer,” said Jesper Brund, President/CEO of SCANPAN USA. 

For more information about GLOBAL Cutlery USA and to view “Ludo Cuts with GLOBAL Knives,” visit www.globalcutleryusa.com