Flavor Trends, Strategies and Solutions for Menu Development

By Flavor & The Menu
July 25, 2019

Roti Modern Mediterranean is a fast casual that features customizable bowls, salads, wraps, sandwiches and rice plates, providing its guests a vast array of choices. And although that works for a lot of today’s consumers, Roti wanted to reach those who prefer curated choices, as well as diners who seek out menu items that fulfill their specific dietary habits, answering one of their brand promises of serving “food that loves you back.”

To satisfy both of those needs, Roti rolled out three “Lifestyle Meals” last January: the Keto Salad (mixed greens topped with char-grilled, grass-fed Steak Roti, tomato and cucumber, feta, olives, cilantro, tahini and green s’chug); the Gluten-Free Rice Plate (Roti Rice topped with char-grilled Chicken Roti, red cabbage slaw, pickled onion, feta, housemade hummus with dill, yogurt and cucumber sauce); and the Vegan Plate (baked pita filled with falafel, tomato and cucumber, kale and chickpea salad, housemade hummus, and topped with pita chip “crunchies,” tahini and red s’chug).

“These were specifically designed for digital ordering, understanding that diners who are following lifestyle regimens search for options that will work for them,” says Molly McGrath, chef and culinary director of the Chicago-based concept.

“Rather than guiding them in store with which ingredients fit their needs, we’ve moved into menuing items that can help those diners by giving them menu options that are already built for them.

Although Roti is all about choice, we’ve come to realize that choice can be overwhelming. With these Lifestyle Meals, we want to make following dietary lifestyles easier by taking out the guesswork.”

Roti Modern Mediterranean

Roti’s Keto Salad is a build of greens topped with char-grilled, grass-fed steak, tomato and cucumber, feta, olives, cilantro, tahini and spicy green s’chug.

Roti’s strategy in offering curated options designed with specific dietary lifestyles in mind—keto, gluten-free and vegan—is paying off. “Driving digital business is very important to us, and this strategy is definitely working,” says McGrath, who joined the fast casual as its chef and culinary director in 2018.

“In digital ordering, the curated meals see double or triple of what we see in-restaurant,” she says. “Curated meals sell better here, probably because of the ‘one-click’ aspect.”

Of course, flavor underpins menu strategy, and McGrath is proud of the flavor combinations found across the menu and highlighted well in the Lifestyle Meals.

“Our Keto Salad features a great grass-fed steak that we’re really proud of,” she says. “The flavors here work well, with the creamy earthiness and back note of bitter from the tahini and the bright, spicy tones from the s’chug.” She describes the falafel plate as having roots in great Mediterranean street food.

“The fluffy Israeli-style pita grabs onto the sauce, and our falafel is soft on the inside and crisp on the outside. I like the red s’chug here because it’s got a sweet heat, almost like a Sriracha,” says McGrath. The Gluten-Free Rice Plate reflects Roti’s menu nicely. “We wanted to build this and reemphasize the strengths on our menu.”

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