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    Flatbreads Pump Up Meal Appeal

    Versatile breads are showing more depth and breadth

    From pub concepts to juice bars and sports bars, appetizer menus are making room for more and more shareable flatbreads, where they serve as a new platform for signature flavors.

    The latest restaurant chain to jump on this trend is Winston-Salem, N.C.-based East Coast Wings & Grill, where Buffalo Chicken Flatbread is aimed to please heat-seekers, and a veggie variety even has fresh kale. The Pub Kitchen Flatbread adds gourmet touches to a bar-food classic with Sam Adams craft beer cheese sauce, and the Philly Cheesesteak Flatbread is a variation on the brand’s signature Steak Philly with cheese sauce, mushrooms, sauteed green peppers and onions, and shaved sirloin, finished with a blend of mozzarella and cheddar cheeses.

    Technomic sees flatbread benefiting from “the evolving pizza occasion” that is moving America’s favorite takeout into more settings and more dayparts. Artisan forms are showing up topped with eggs for breakfast, in lunch sizes and in many appetizer variations.

    But flatbread doesn’t always look like pizza. Indian naan, Mexican tortillas and Turkish lavash flatbreads are bringing variety and global accents to sandwich programs. At the popular fast casual Tava Indian concept, a two-unit in the San Francisco area, the Burroti hybridizes the burrito form with house-made Indian roti bread wrapped around crumbled Indian cheese, vegetables, lentils, meats and Southern Indian chutneys.

    Less embellished flatbreads like focaccia and pita are perfect for dipping, spreading and pairing with cheese, olives and salad bar favorites. At Maryland-based Cava Grill, a growing chain of fast casual Eastern Mediterranean restaurants, house-baked pita bread is a carrier for the operator’s menu of dips and spreads like the Crazy Feta, a jalepeno-infused feta mousse made with imported Greek feta.

    Grocerant-Ready Ideas:

    • Pizza ovens repurposed for focaccia, naan and pita bread
    • Freshly baked flatbread merchandised with the salad bar for DIY appetizer ideas
    • Personal-sized flatbreads for the lunch crowd

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