The foodservice industry trade publication Nation's Restaurant News recently named its Hot Concepts of 2012, which is a look at brands that "celebrate innovation, vitality and growth within the restaurant industry."
The annual list acts as a barometer of trendsetters, which are expected to experience significant growth in the near future.
The first company of note is the CoolHaus fleet of ice cream trucks based out of Culver City, California. They were at the Cedars Food Park this weekend and I would have never guessed they were a chain.
The concept is all-natural ice cream that comes in sometimes-outlandish flavors, like fried chicken and waffles or brown butter and candied bacon. The dense almost tennis-ball size scoops are then delicately pressed between cookies: potato chip & butterscotch, anyone? All of which goes for $5.50.
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The CoolHaus truck fleet is nationwide and shows no sign of tapping the brakes.
Dallas-based Del Frisco's Grille is also on the Hot Concepts list. Observer food critic Scott Reitz took a close look at them shortly after they opened and wrote about a slightly tense "Does it look medium rare to you?" exchange with a waiter. Currently they have five restaurants total, including spots in New York City, Arizona, D.C., Atlanta and Dallas.
Del Frisco's Restaurant Group was originally a steakhouse concept, with the Double Eagle and Sullivan's Steakhouse brands in their portfolio. This more causal and bar-centric Grille seems to be playing well for them.
Next on the list of Hot Concepts is Pie Five Pizza Co. based in The Colony as part of Pizza Inn Holdings Inc. They now have six spots across DFW, and another set to open in a new complex at the University of Texas at Arlington this fall. The setup is like Subway; customers pick from toppings behind the counter and their pizza is made in front of them. Then, the pies are baked in two minutes and 20 seconds thanks to an all-electric oven with a catalytic converter. Ideally the entire process takes five minutes.