The impact of Creative Cuisine in DeKalb County restaurants
McQuere, Janice M.
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Due to the high incidence of heart disease in the United States and the increasing number of people dining out, the American Heart Association developed a restaurant program entitled "Eating Away from Home" to identify low-fat, low-cholesterol items on restaurant menus. This program was implemented in 1985 under the name Creative Cuisine in three DeKalb County restaurants: Kishwaukee Country Club, Scalawag's Bazaar, and Chandelier East. A six-item questionnaire was developed to assess consumer knowledge and awareness of their programs. Restaurant records were analyzed for sales of Creative Cuisine entrees at the beginning of the program and one year later. It was found that one-fourth of the total restaurant patrons visited the restaurants because Creative Cuisine was on the menu. A greater percentage of patrons dined at Chandelier East because of Creative Cuisine, while a smaller percentage ate at the country club for this reason. Both Chandelier East and Kishwaukee Country Club have a white collar clientele, a group in which nutrition programs have nationally been more successful. However, members dined more for social reasons at the country club. Scalawag's has established a regular clientele dining because of Creative Cuisine. A majority of patrons heard about the program in the restaurant, but less than one-third were aware that the Creative Cuisine logo signified low-fat, low-cholesterol menu items. Although one-fourth of the patrons came because of Creative Cuisine and three-fourths of this group perceived an increase in menu selections because of the program, less than one-third ordered Creative Cuisine. As in other parts of the nation, taste and appearance are the first priority in menu selection for patrons when dining out, while nutrition is a secondary concern. The special of the day had the greatest impact on sales. If the Creative Cuisine item was a popular food, sales increased. The overall sales of Creative Cuisine entrees at the restaurants did not show much increase or decrease. Due to this fact and that many patrons were not familiar with Creative Cuisine, a media campaign is needed to increase consumer awareness of the program.