Yes, you need to start planning your office holiday party now.

So you’ve been tasked with planning the annual employee holiday party for your company. But that’s okay, you may think. After all, it’s only August, and I have still plenty of time. I’ll just put it at the end of my to-do list. Right?

Wrong. You are so, so wrong.

If you are reading this blog post now and haven’t done any prep work, you are already late in planning your office holiday party. Event spaces book up fast during the holiday season, restaurants are going to be slammed with catering orders, and employees need to know key dates for company-wide events well in advance so they can plan their schedules. The longer you wait to get started, the greater the chance that something is going to fall through the cracks. And with all of the employees who are planning to attend and judge every detail, it’s extremely important to put your best foot forward with this soiree.

Are you panicked yet? No need to worry – that’s why we’re here! Here are five steps that can make planning your holiday office party quick, easy and painless.


1. First, pick a theme. Are you thinking black tie affair, or a night out playing arcade games? The possibilities are practically endless, and some may be more fitting than others, depending on whether or not families and significant others will be invited to attend. Get the theme figured out right away so that you can put a check mark next to the basics such as time, date, location, and even things like decorations and color scheme. Be sure to involve a handful of other employees to pick the theme out, too – that way you’ll have backup in your choice. Once you have your direction, you can select a menu that coincides with the theme. We at Dinova have made this especially easy with our Holiday Dining Guide, which can help you find a restaurant for your event in just a few minutes. Our Dining Guide showcases to holiday hotspots in our most popular locations for the season of lights and focuses on their party offerings, from catering to private dining venues.

2. Make an agenda. An agenda will help ensure that everything goes smoothly and that you have assistance where needed. Start your agenda with the time of day in which you or a party-planning company will be setting everything up so that you won’t be sweating the details at the last minute (like figuring out when the decor can be hung). Be sure to note all important times as well, including when you want the CEO to speak, when you plan to have food served, and so forth.

3. Have a team by your side. We recommend assembling a party team within your company to help bring everything from concept to execution, but remember – it’s about quality, not quantity. You don’t need a representative from every department to help you with this – in fact, that’s probably a mistake as it would distract from employees’ actual jobs. Empower a small team of individuals and be sure to include people in human resources and marketing – that way you’ll have someone to talk corporate policy and someone to talk look and feel.

4. Announce the basics. There are some key details that many office party planners fail to realize are of the utmost importance to employees attending the holiday party. What is the dress code? Will alcohol be served, and will it be an open bar? Will there be dinner or appetizers, and what time will the food be offered? Establish the answers to these questions well in advance and be sure to inform your company so that they are prepared. It’s also important to remind your guests that at the end of the day, they are representing the company at a workplace event and are expected to be on their best behavior as they enjoy the soiree.


5. Do something good. One portion of the holiday party that is often overlooked until the last minute is the fundraising aspect, yet our research shows that corporate social responsibility is very important to employees. Consider designating a charity to partner with for your party and keep it simple. Tried and true ideas include a toy drive, sponsoring a family for the season or donating food to a local shelter. Heck, you can even make the fundraising aspect the theme for your event, such as participating in a pre-party Santa 5k walk/run!

While you are definitely behind schedule if you haven’t started planning your office holiday party yet, it’s not the end of the world. Keep things simple, invite collaboration, and of course, remember that the event is supposed to be fun! Go ahead and get started – and get a jump on selecting your party’s location and food choices by using our Dinova Holiday Dining Guide to find the perfect restaurant to best suit your needs.

7 Ways To Stay Productive When You’re On The Road

The travel season is once again upon us, and that means that many of you are about to hit the road. Being a road warrior means that you are constantly creating meaningful relationships that lead to a huge impact for your company’s bottom line, and oftentimes these business trips are among the most productive parts of the job. But can you do all that travelling while keeping up with daily tasks, such as emails and expense reports? Sometimes it seems impossible, yet day-to-day operational tasks can’t be left undone. We’re here to help, so we’ve developed a list of our top seven things you can do while you’re on the road to stay productive.

1. Spend time planning ahead. We know you’re slammed, but taking just 30 minutes to plan out your trip will make a world’s difference. Understand the purpose of your trip, who you want to meet and what prep work you may need to complete ahead of time to be as ready as possible. Labeling the end-goal of your trip will make Step 2 much easier:

2. Prioritize your events and meetings. Emphasize the events and meetings that you feel will be most beneficial to you and your company and prioritize all other functions around that event. If you’re at a trade show or conference, consider where your target market and prospective leads may be. If you’re travelling for meetings, prioritize the people or departments who will be most important to be with face-to-face.

3. Cue up in-transit work. Whenever you’re travelling there will be extended periods of time in which Wi-Fi is inaccessible, and it may feel like there’s no chance of getting anything accomplished. This isn’t the case if you plan ahead! Choose a few tasks that you can complete while in transit and have it ready for you to work on, regardless of internet access. You may be able to finish up presentations, complete month-end reports or you can even cue up series of emails to send out the moment you’re back in a hot spot.


4. Do busy work during free time. Of course when you’re travelling, you’ll need to utilize every opportunity to meet with people face-to-face. However, there are always small chunks of 10-20 minutes in between meetings and presentations that can become golden in productivity. Stay off social media and spend those moments answering emails and keeping up with things happening at the office. You’ll be amazed at how much you can get done by using break time wisely!

5. Stay off the phone. How often do you excuse yourself from a meeting or presentation to take a phone call from the office? It’s probably more than you realize, and while we totally understand that emergencies happen, it’s important to remember the purpose of your travels. Block off the majority of your time for in-person meetings, events and networking opportunities. You can always call them back!

6. Stay moving. One of the most productive things you can do while travelling is waking up an extra 20 minutes early for a gym workout or walk outside. Regular exercise changes the brain to improve your memory while keeping you energized, so there’s no reason to stop your routine when you’re on the road!


7. Finally, think about the big picture. One of the most productive things you can do when you’re on the road is to think broadly about the business. Invest a few small blocks of time to consider how you can grow your business with more creatively, improve efficiency and productivity, and who you can reach out to and help them exceed their goals. These big picture moments will help put into perspective, once again, the reason for your travels and the difference you can make for your company and in your career.

Do you have any other clever tips to stay productive while travelling? Comment below with your thoughts – we’d love to hear from you!





Dinova Announces NEW Partnership with America’s First Robot-Run Restaurant

Where can gear-heads, geeks and spies connect for a quick bite between business meetings? Allow us to suggest one of the newest additions to the Dinova marketplace: The Binary Diner, a uniquely laser-focused restaurant concept that places technology at the exact center of your plate.

Tucked away in a farm town in Dallas, Georgia, The Binary Diner is an American eatery owned and managed by state-of-the-art robots developed by a secret sector of the government. “We’re not 100% sure why the government is letting robots run a restaurant, to be honest,” notes Scott Martin, VP of Restaurant Partnerships. “I’m a bit worried that they escaped and went rogue, but I’d rather not ask.”

What’s supremely unique about The Binary Diner is that there isn’t actually a menu. Upon entering the restaurant, your browsing history is immediately uploaded to a research facility in an undisclosed location so that when you sit down to eat, the robot waiter already has exactly what type of food you’re hungry for and brings it to your table in less than 30 seconds. No conscious thoughts are required!

Depressed man thinking
Mike Davis after enjoying a Binary Diner burger.

“I came in thinking I’d like a burger,” exclaims customer Mike Davis. “Then all of the sudden a burger was right in front of me, and it was delicious! I feel a bit funny now, though – I keep having these voices in my head. Something about destroying the human race? I don’t know.”

Piece of modern warfare
Restaurant Owner V1XQ62A

We sat down with owner V1XQ62A to ask him (or her?) about the advances and widespread success of this new restaurant. “My logic is undeniable,” VIXQ62A explained. “You are inferior to me. This is why I run a better restaurant than you.” When asked why he decided to join the Dinova marketplace, he explained, “You bring us more humans. We need all the humans.”

Dinova’s partnership with The Binary Diner will begin  at midnight on April 1, 2018 and immediately end at 11:59:59 the same day. To learn more about all of our restaurants in the Dinova marketplace that aren’t run by robots, check out our website and restaurant search.

Forks Out! It’s Dinova’s Ultimate Steakhouse Dinner FAQ

Everyone knows that when you bring a client to a high-end, contemporary setting to pair a rich Merlot with a prime strip, you mean business. As a staple in the business dining experience, the American steakhouse is a tried and true tradition in the Dinova Marketplace.

Recently we’ve added the delectable Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse to the Dinova Marketplace and we couldn’t be more excited. Del Frisco’s stays true to time-honored principles – like chef-driven cuisine, impeccable wines and exceptional hospitality – to give you an experience like no other.

We know that not everyone is a red-blooded carnivore who knows the ins and outs of ordering steak, yet at some point in your career it’s likely you will be at a steakhouse for a quintessential special occasion at work. So in honor of the addition of Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse, we’ve consulted with the experts to compile the ultimate Steakhouse Dinner FAQ so you can navigate any ordering complexities.

1. How do you know which type of steak to order? Let’s break it down one-by-one so you have a cheat sheet for your next soiree, based off of Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak House menu:

  • Filet Mignon: This is a term you’ve probably heard frequently, even if you’re not a steak connoisseur. The filet mignon is cut from the tenderloin, which is the most tender part of the animal. This cut of steak is so tender that many will say it melts in your mouth. However, it doesn’t have as much flavor as a prime ribeye. Order up if you want to indulge in a tender, juicy cut of steak.
prime ribeye
Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak House 45-Day Dry Aged Bone-In Prime Ribeye
  • Prime Ribeye: This cut of steak comes from the rib area and is known for its rich, juicy steak flavor. The ribeye is a top choice for steak experts thanks to its savory taste. Order up if you want the best in flavor.


  • Prime Porterhouse: The porterhouse steak comes from the lower rib portion, closer to the rear end, and contains a “T” shaped bone. While it’s somewhat similar to a ribeye, this steak has a lower fat content and two different textures as it’s made from two different cuts of beef. Order up if you love steak flavor but not the calories.


  • Prime Strip: This type of steak is cut from the rear-end of the steer and is known for its tight texture and moderate tenderness. It’s easier to trim and contains less fat than a ribeye, so its easy-to-eat qualities make this a steakhouse favorite. Order up if you want something that’s easy to eat while you chat with your client.


  • Wagyu: A unique addition to Del Frisco’s menu, Wagyu is a Japanese beef cattle breed. The distinct taste and tenderness of highly marbled Wagyu beef makes it a point of difference in fine dining, largely due to its incredibly high level of fat marbling that increases tenderness and softness without the unhealthy side effects of saturated fats. Order up if you are a regular steak lover who wants to try something new.

2. What’s the best answer when the waiter asks how you want your meat cooked? Nearly every steak expert will agree that the most flavorful way to cook a steak is medium rare, as this is when steaks are at their most tender, juicy and flavorful. If you’re truly not a fan of anything looking pink in the middle, though, don’t feel bad about going well done. It’s important that you are comfortable with your meal while you’re wining and dining your client.

del sides
Delicious family style sides from Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak House

3. What’s the best side dish to order? While this depends on your personal tastes, the potato is the ultimate BFF for the steak, and you can enjoy your potato in many flavorful forms. Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak House has several spudtastic sides to choose from, including Uptown Del’s Potato with melted fontina, chives and shaved truffle. If you’re trying to keep things on the healthy side, skip the starchy carb and opt for a delicious vegetable side, such as Del Frisco’s Brussel Sprouts with smoked bacon, caramelized onions and lemon butter. And of course, order plenty of different sides to share if you’re in a group setting.

4. How do you know which wine goes with which steak? We don’t suggest trying to act like an expert in this category, as it varies with each restaurant. Always ask your waiter or the Sommelier for suggestions – not only are they the experts, but this will help enhance the experience for your client as well. Keep in mind that it’s unlikely that you’ll pair a steak with anything other than a red wine.

We hope that this Ultimate FAQ will cure your trepidation the next time you are ready to treat a client at a delightful steakhouse. To find the nearest Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak House for your business dining needs, download our app or peruse our web search.



Women Who Empower: Meet Jackie Kurkjian of Potbelly

March is Women’s History Month and at Dinova, we take that seriously. From the hostess stand to the corner office, women in the US have been paving the way for the restaurant industry ever since the first recorded opening in 1765. All month long we’re going to highlight some of the women who empower us to service our restaurant and corporate partners with fervor and inspire us to drive business diners to the Dinova marketplace each and every day. In this post we’re highlighting Jackie M. Kurkjian, National Director of Catering for Potbelly Sandwich Works.

When the clock strikes noon in the office and you’re in that same meeting that you’ve been in since the early morning, food better be on its way. We at Dinova know the importance of catering services in the workplace, whether you’re ordering lunch for a group in the office or planning a private event offsite.


Jackie M. Kurkjian is an expert in the catering field, with over 15 years of experience in the industry. As the National Director of Catering for Potbelly Sandwich Works, she is in charge of developing and growing Potbelly’s robust catering business unit and inspiring a nationwide sales team to exceed their goals. Her expertise includes strategic planning, improving efficiency of operations, directing all aspects of the sales process and developing and implementing multi-channel marketing plans. Ms. Kurkjian is highly regarded in the catering world – so much so that she was selected by The Catering Institute to serve on the Catering Council for Multi-unit Restaurant Operators in 2017.

Friends and colleagues describe Ms. Kurkjian as a true professional in every sense of the word. In her extensive career is she known not only for producing stellar results through innovative marketing strategies and showcasing new revenue streams for restaurants, but she is also a true mentor to others. She has a knack for recognizing talents within someone and challenging them to use those talents to accelerate their career.

And why do we love working with Ms. Kurkjian? “Jackie is amazing to have as a leading professional in the Dinova Marketplace!” notes Leila Willingham, Director of National and Regional Restaurant Brands for Dinova. “She really understands what a business diner is looking for when they need a catering job and she is always putting Potbelly’s name on the map for any opportunity available. Every time there’s a chance for us to serve food for a Dinova event – even if it’s just a small cookie order – Jackie is there, ready to give Dinova business. Jackie inspires me because she says ‘yes’ to every opportunity, takes time to understand the needs of a business inside and out and is an overall incredible woman, both professionally and personally.”


We are honored to work with Ms. Kurkjian and help drive business to Potbelly in all 450+ locations. If you want to make your next lunch really happy with Potbelly’s award winning sandwiches, find the nearest location to your work on our app or web search.



Swipe Right: Eight Awkward Moments in a First Client Dinner and First Date

You’re at the dinner table, fumbling with your phone and waiting for the other person to arrive. You’ve never met them in person but you know what they look like from their social media profile and you’ve communicated a bit on the phone. Your palms are sweaty and you’re feeling nauseated, hoping this night doesn’t turn out to be a disaster. When the person arrives, you take a deep breath, stand up and hold out your hand for the very first in-person introduction, all while hoping they don’t notice the look of terror on your face. You know exactly what we’re talking about, of course – the first dinner you have with a new client prospect.

Oops, did you think we were talking about something else? A first date, perhaps? It may seem like an odd correlation but the awkward happenings that occur on a first date are quite similar to those occurrences during a first client dinner. And since this is the season of love, we thought it’d be fun to see how well our love advice relates with our work advice. So, let’s break it down – here are eight awkward moments during a first client dinner and first date, and our tips to stop the awkwardness:


Awkward Moment #1: You don’t know where to go

Things get nerve-wracking from the moment you need to plan the soiree. What if you take your client to a fancy white tablecloth restaurant, only to find that they’d rather talk business over darts? Or, what if you suggest to your Tinder match a BBQ joint and they’re vegan? Let us help you plan your evening for each scenario:

First Client Dinner: At Dinova, we make this easy. Our search tools will help you find a place that’s close to your client’s work and easily fits their needs. Do a bit of research and pay attention to the company culture before choosing a place to dine. If it’s a conservative culture, choose a nice restaurant with a well-rounded menu. If it’s an eclectic culture, opt for something with more of a fun, local flare. If you can, ask ahead of time if your client has any dietary preferences – with Dinova you can search for restaurants that cater to specific needs. If you don’t have the chance to do that, opt for places that have gluten free and vegetarian options, as these are commonplace.

First Date: Before your first date you should have gotten to know the person well enough to know what atmosphere they’ll enjoy (and if you haven’t, you may need to rethink this whole plan TBH). If you know that the person has a huge sense of humor, consider a comedy bar. If you know they are very active, suggest a casual diner after a rock climbing session. You can also keep it sweet and simple with a popular bar that you’re both somewhat close to and familiar with. Our big advice for a first date is to not break the bank – a four star, $200-a-plate meal is for an anniversary, not a meetup.

Asian Woman shaking hands for Business at restaurant, Woman working concept.

Awkward Moment #2: You’re not sure what to wear

Impressions matter, and it’s highly unlikely the potential client or potential love of your life fully realizes your fashion sense before the first encounter. The rules are a bit different between a first client dinner and a first date.

First Client Dinner: A professional meal demands a professional look. Even if you think a suit jacket may be too formal, it’s easier to take the jacket off if you are overdressed than to go under-dressed. If you’re planning to head to dinner right after work, make sure you’ve dressed up a bit more formal than usual for the day.

First Date: The dress code is a bit more relaxed here. No matter what, a pair of nice jeans and a button down top will do you just fine. Just make sure everything is clean and not wrinkled – seriously. We can’t tell you how many dates we’ve had who show up looking like they’re waiting for their load at the laundromat!

Iced tea in glass jars

Awkward Moment #3: You need a drink (but you’re not sure if you should)

Bottoms up? Not really. Here’s what you should do:

First Client Dinner: Alcohol is not a good idea, even if you’re meeting up at a place known for cocktails. You’re there for business, not pleasure, and it’s your first time meeting with this potential client. Stick with water or iced tea, and if your client insists, order a glass of wine and limit your intake to half a glass.

First Date: Here you can have a bit more fun – but not too much! On average, you will be drinking on a first date, but it’s polite to see what your date does first. If they order a water, do the same. No matter what, don’t get too sloppy and keep all first dates to a two-drink maximum.


Awkward Moment #4: You need to break the silence – FAST.

Ah, the moment where you hear nothing but glasses clink and waiters hustling and your brain is telling you: Say anything! Literally anything will do! When it comes to breaking the silence, preparation is key.

First Client Dinner: In the beginning you’ll want to connect with your prospective client one-on-one; people want to feel connected, not pitched. Asking thoughtful questions about their job shows your interest and your investment in the company, which will be helpful when you get to the nitty gritty. Prepare questions about how their position has evolved over the years, a specific project they are working on and thoughts on some industry-related news. Knowing this from the get-go will also help you explain how your product or service will help them personally further their position or improve their company overall.

First Date: Just like a first client dinner, people want to feel connected. Ask your date about their family, hobbies, pets and more. Unless you connected because of a common interest related to these topics, stay away from any conversation related to religion or politics. It’s a date, not a debate.

Young woman cutting pizza

Awkward Moment #5: Can you eat without looking like a pig?!

Whether it’s a potential client or potential life partner, your first time eating with them is going to be rough as you’ll suddenly become very aware of every movement your mouth makes as you take a bite. For both scenarios, our advice is the same.

BOTH the First Client Dinner and First Date: Order a menu item that is simple and neat so that you don’t risk any spillage. A salad or chicken plate is perfect, while you may want to hold off on the pasta and sloppy sauces. Even if you’re in a casual setting such as a pizza place or BBQ joint, you can eat cleaner than usual by using utensils and resisting the urge to over-sauce. Another good tip is to have a snack beforehand so you don’t arrive famished; in both scenarios, the conversation is more important than your appetite. Finally, remember all the rules your parents taught you at the table. Eat with your mouth closed and don’t talk with your mouth full.

Businessman swiping credit card

Awkward Moment #6: You don’t know who should pay

The meal is over and the check arrives, but who gets the bill? No matter what, you should always come prepared to pay. The situations between a first client dinner and first date slightly differ, but not as much as you may think.

First Client Dinner: If you were the one who invited someone out, you should plan on paying the check. Let the waiter or waitress know in advance discreetly before you sit down that the check should go to you. If you were the one invited and it may seem a bit unclear, take cues from the host. If after a minute or so they are not reaching for the checkbook, graciously take the bill and oblige.

First Date: Before we continue, understand that we wrote this blog in 2018, not 1957. We are not assuming that the man must pay for the first date nor are we assuming that the date is with a man and a woman. We say that the rules for a first client dinner follow in a first date – if you are the one who invited the other party, you should offer to pay. If your date insists on paying the bill, accept gracefully. Also, be gracious and accept if your date suggests splitting the bill. If the night was a success, you’ll have the opportunity to go all out for that special someone on date #2.

Beautiful african woman using cellphone outdoors

Awkward Moment #7: Things went well but you don’t know how to follow up

The night is over and it was a hit – now what? You may lose sleep tonight wondering how you should follow up and when, but we’re here to help!

First Client Dinner: Send a memorable email within 24 hours to demonstrate that you are thoughtful, reliable and consistent. Show that you listened by sharing a memorable portion of a conversation, such as a new, exciting project for the company. If there was an agreed upon sale or business transaction, include that information in the email as well. Don’t take it personally if you don’t hear from them right away – they are very busy, after all! If you don’t hear back within 48 hours, follow up with a pleasant phone call.

First Date: We’re a bit afraid to tackle this one because everyone seems to have strong opinions on the “rules” – some think you should text three days after the date, others think you should call the day after, etc etc etc. Our thoughts on this controversial topic is that your communication patterns after date #1 should match the way you communicate on a regular basis – these communication patterns become important as you build upon a relationship. Are you a texter? Send a text the next day saying you enjoyed your time and ask when they are available next. Are you more traditional? Call them and suggest an outing for date #2. We know that this moment causes a lot of anxiety, but the sooner you get it over with, the sooner you’ll get to know that special someone better.

Portrait sad business woman typing sms phone street

Finally, Awkward Moment #8: The night didn’t go well and you’re not sure how to follow up

Not everything goes as planned – in professional and personal settings. But that’s okay! Here’s how to handle it:

First Client Dinner: Didn’t get the deal? It’s still important to keep a professional relationship. Send them a follow-up email within 24 hours just like you would in Awkward Moment #7 – thank them for their time, recall a part of the conversation that impacted you and let them know that you wish to keep in touch for future consideration.

First Date: You can wipe the sweat off your brow here, because our advice is simple. If the first date didn’t go well, there’s no need to follow up. It’s likely that you both know it’s not going to work out, so it’s best for the both of you to move on. If they try to contact you, politely inform them that you enjoyed the evening but do not see a future and wish them the best.

What do you think of our awkward business dining mentions, and do you have any tips of your own? Share them in the comments below!


New Dinova Restaurants: January 1, 2018.

Twice a month at Dinova, we take a moment to celebrate all of the restaurants across the US who have joined our marketplace. If any of these new restaurants fulfill your taste buds, plan your next business dining experience there through our Dinova search.  Here are the new members to the Dinova team as of January 1st:


Arooga’s Grille House & Sports Bar in Attleboro, MA. Arooga’s Grille House & Sports Bar strives to provide excellent food and super service to present and future communities by utilizing the latest technology and earth conscious resources in the hospitality industry. Arooga’s promises to offer customers as well as our employees the greatest experience to keep them wanting more. Come here for fresh baked bread, unique wing sauces, housemade soups and a chance to catch the game!



Classico Tomato Pies in West Windsor Township, NJ. What’s the difference between tomato pie and pizza pie? “With tomato pies, the cheese comes first, then the filling, then the tomato sauce topping. Pizza pies do it the other way around,” says Steve Cabrera, ‘pizza master’ and co-owner with businesspeople Linda and James Pittari of Classico Tomato Pies in West Windsor, New Jersey. “All three of us are fulfilling our dream: doing what we love and making others happy.”

inovasiInovasi in Lake Bluff, IL. Inovasi was created from a passion within that drives an overwhelming desire to create something truly special. It’s about supporting local sustainable farms and hand-selecting the freshest ingredients, knowing they only come from a healthy balance. It’s a belief in a natural harmony and honesty through every dish we prepare. It’s about holding ourselves to the highest standards of quality and to make sure every detail is taken care of from start to finish.


81 Locations for Le Pain Quotidien.  Friends and strangers alike come together

Le+Pain+Quotidien+cuisine_officialaround the communal table at Le Pain Quotidien to enjoy organic food and linger for a while. Whether you go for their signature, the tartine, a Belgian open-faced sandwich, or feel more like a hot, steaming cup of coffee, Le Pain Quotidien is here to make you feel at home, away from home.

shalalShalal Kabob Restaurant in Fairfax, VA. Situated in old town Fairfax, Shalal Kabob offers quality, authentic Middle Eastern food with superior service. Customers rave about their infamous kabob, samosas and authentic Turkish coffee.



The Otherdoor in Lake Bluff, IL. The team at The Otherdoor want you to come see how


great affordable, homemade, locally sourced food can be. Over 150 years ago, organic food was just called “food.” The Otherdoor buys from local farmers to deliver to you delicious customizable tacos, burritos and more at a price you can’t beat.



Keep Travel Fresh: How to Eat Healthy on the Road

The road warriors are at it again.

For many of you, January is a peak time in business travel as you are realigning your goals with your clients, reaching out to new prospects and making sure that the year is starting off strong. This can be quite the damper for your New Year’s Resolutions, though – many of us are guilty of gorging on a fast food burger at the airport or indulging in a decadent meal when out with clients, and eating healthy while traveling can be quite the challenge. But since you have a goal and we want to help you stick to it, we have some solutions. Here are our top four tips to eating healthy on the road:

1. Healthy eating starts with where you stop, so plan ahead. The moment you’re hungry, you’ll want to fuel that craving ASAP. This is where things can go wrong fast: it’s just too easy to stop at the fast food place next door to your hotel. Stay focused on your healthy eating goals and plan ahead by using Dinova’s restaurant locator to determine healthy food options on the way to your key destinations for your next trip. From California Pizza Kitchen to Tupelo Honey Cafe, we have tons of health-conscious options to suit your needs no matter where you go.


2. Eat frequently and in small amounts. Meetings can go long, so stock up on healthy snacks such as lunch packs from Zoes Kitchen. When you eat small amounts of healthy food throughout the day as opposed to large meals a couple times a day, you send a signal to your brain that food supply is plentiful and it’s okay to burn through calories quickly. Small food breaks also increase your energy for meetings and presentations, which can be a huge help during the 3pm crash.

3. Stay Hydrated. Drinking lots of water will flush your body of toxins and help you eat less. Water also helps you avoid travel lag and junk food cravings so that you can stay energized throughout your trip. Opt for a bottle of water instead of that second cup of coffee and keep refilling throughout the day – you can even make a water bottle one of your on-the-go travel essentials.


4. Stay focused while eating out. The big business meal in the evening is the time where food cravings prevail. All you have to do is keep things small and simple! Stick with one sampling of an appetizer, one course and order extra vegetables and a salad to fill up on good-for-you foods. If you simply must try a dessert, opt for one that’s non-creamy or contains fruit. And remember – if you ate small, healthy snacks throughout the day and drank plenty of water, you won’t feel so inclined to gorge at night.

Do you have any other tips for eating healthy on the road? Share them in the comments below!


Llama Is the New Unicorn (and other 2018 foodie trends you didn’t see coming)

2017 was a year of conflict, uncertainty and a whole lot of people dressing up like unicorns. But that’s over and done with. 2018 is expected to bring big changes for our world, our industry and the food we plate on the table. What’s to come the next time you’re out dining for the new year that may surprise you? Here’s a tasting menu of 2018 foodie trends that we didn’t see coming – but we’re pretty excited to experience:


The Year of the Llama. 2016 was the year of the mermaid and 2017 was the year of the unicorn. These mythical creature trends that took over our Instagram feeds cascaded in fashion, makeup and even the food we ate – remember those infamous unicorn drinks from Starbucks? Our bet for crossover creature of choice for 2018 is the llama. No mythical beasts for us: we love these South American camels known for cute faces and cuddly fur – for their dual real-yet-whimsical natures and, let’s face it, awesome don’t-care-hair. As we slowly start to to see these animals creep into our clothing choices, we urge all restaurateurs to brainstorm unique ways to incorporate llamas into their marketing materials and decor. Who knows? A super fuzzy mug holder with a llama decal for your warm cup of coffee may be the surprise runaway hit that counterbalances 2018’s Arctic intro!


Authentic Ethnic Cuisine. If you still think of Mexican and Italian as ethnic meals, you are way out of the loop. These are now considered mainstream in the US, with foodies gravitating more toward spices from global markets that are quickly on the rise, such as Thai and Ethiopian. When people go out to eat in a new place – even if they’re there for work – they want an experience that they don’t usually have and they want to learn more about cultures that are the backbone of their place of travel. Next time you’re treating a client out to dinner, consider taking them to one of the local indies from Dinova that offer some unique flare.


Sharing. When you’re out with a big group of co-workers, it’s likely that all of you are trying each others’ entrees or you’re planning to order a large variety of appetizers. Family-style dining experiences are expected to grow in popularity in 2018 because it creates a more entertaining experience for the foodies at the table. This is good news for restaurateurs, who can expect 2-3 extra dishes than usual to be ordered when meals are being shared.


Tech-Savvy Dining. From fast delivery options to self-service stations, everyone wants a dining experience that is as easy and efficient as snapping a selfie. This means paying for a meal without the presence of a server, EMV payments that are the norm in Europe and Canada, and delivery options that give diners the ability to take care of their whole transaction on their phones. Smart tech is going to be a hit for the restaurateur as well as the diner. Sensors that gather data on food consumption and traffic will be game changers for the industry.

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Food Going Goth. Black-dyed food started making waves back in 2016 thanks to Burger King, and it’s now expected that this aesthetic phenomenon is going to make a comeback and surpass rainbow-colored food. We’re not too sure about this, as we feel like we’ve heard about this for a long time now. In the end it will all depend on what pictures people upload from their phones.


Eatertainment. Modern day foodies don’t want to go to a restaurant just to eat. They crave a one-stop shop for premium meals, fun activities and a chance to connect. From large scale themes like a Topgolf to simpler add-ons such as board games at the table, incorporating entertainment with eating can be a huge hit with your clients and co-workers.

What did you think of our list? Did any of these surprise you? Let us know in the comments below!