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Innovation, Past and Present: 15 Interesting Morsels about the Foodservice Industry

While restaurants are often the first thing people think of when they hear “foodservice,” the industry is actually quite vast and includes many players who keep operations running, including foodservice equipment manufacturers and suppliers like SandenVendo. Innovations in foodservice equipment have shaped the industry as we know it and will continue to do so.

We took a look at foodservice history and forecasts, and found 15 interesting facts you might not know about our industry:

Working in Foodservice

1. According to the National Restaurant Association, employment in the restaurant industry is supposed to reach 16.9 million workers in 2029. This is a 37% increase from 2009.

2. Careers in the foodservice industry can be lifelong! The National Restaurant Association’s report also found that one out of every three Americans got their first job in a restaurant. Many of those people continue to stay in the industry: 80% of restaurant owners say their first job was an entry-level restaurant position.

3. The U.S. federal minimum wage for tipped restaurant employees is $2.13 per hour. Tips are supposed to make up the difference between this rate and the overall federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. If business is slow and tips are slim, employers are supposed to make up the difference – but, we still recommend tipping your hardworking waiters nicely.

4. Rather than work at one restaurant, some foodservice professionals are turning to apps like Pared, which offer a variety of short-term foodservice gigs at various top restaurants in major metro areas.

5. The concept of the “celebrity chef” dates back to the 18th century with Marie-Antoine Carême. He traveled the world, making Haute French dishes, and is credited with both establishing the traditional white coat chef’s uniform and perfecting the souffle.

Restaurants’ Rich History

1. Foodservice has been an important part of civilization for centuries! The ancient Romans enjoyed takeout-style fast food at establishments called thermopolium, and the concept of the modern restaurant likely originated in Hangzhou, China in the 12th century.

2. McDonald’s took the fast-food world by storm with its “Speedee Service System” that churned out burgers in record time. The company was keeping track of how many burgers they sold and posting this statistic on its signs around the world…until 1994, when someone lost count right before the 100 billion mark. Now the signs just say “over 99 billion” or “billions and billions” served. Whoops!

3. Speaking of McDonald’s, the burger giant says that today, their restaurants in the United Kingdom can produce a classic hamburger in 112 seconds and a Quarter Pounder™ with cheese in 180 seconds.

4. Online restaurant ordering and delivery services are offering a closer look at nationwide meal trends. GrubHub’s 2019 “State of the Plate” report noted that cauliflower bites are 536% more popular in spring than any other season, and vegan food is growing in popularity across the country.

5. In fact, more and more restaurants are starting to offer vegan versions of their most popular dishes, using highly realistic plant-based meat alternatives from companies like Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat.

Foodservice Equipment & Inventions

1. Mankind has been cooking over flame since the discovery of fire. It’s thought that the first use of gas flames for cooking occurred in 1802, and commercial gas oven production began in the 1830s, helping to revolutionize cooking as we know it today.

2. Ovens continued to evolve in the 1940s with the discovery of microwave cooking. The Raytheon Corporation produced the first commercial microwave oven in the 1950s.

3. Foodservice Equipment & Supplies Magazine reported that in 2019, sales among the top foodservice equipment dealers topped 10 billion dollars. When you factor in the other local and family-owned foodservice supply companies thriving in the United States, the industry picture is even more impressive!

4. Robots are starting to make their way into the foodservice sector. Several Chinese restaurants are experimenting with incorporating robots into food preparation and delivery.

5. The Green Restaurant Association reports that as of 2019, many cities are requiring restaurants to use environmentally-friendly packaging and processes, ranging from bans on plastic straws to implementing on-site composting of all food scraps. These new rules are opening the door for more unique and innovative supplies serving the “green” market.

It’s clear to see that foodservice has been a huge part of civilized society, from ancient times to today. At SandenVendo, we’re always excited to keep learning about how our favorite industry continues to evolve while innovating new solutions that help you serve your customers with style.

What’s your favorite foodservice fact or invention? Let us know!

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