And they’re not limited to upscale restaurants.
“You’re seeing portabellas on Wendy’s hamburgers,” he said, noting that he also has seen them advertised at Applebee’s restaurants.
“It’s filtered down from fine dining to casual and even to the fast food industry,” Donovan said.
Dole Mushrooms, Kennett Square, does some foodservice business under the Oakshire brand, said Gary Schroeder, director.
The company has worked with some chains on various portabella programs that have been very successful, he said.
“Their growth has been wonderful.”
The program has allowed the restaurants to improve sales on some meals that have not previously been strong movers, he said.
“Portabella has been a wonderful addition to some of these restaurants,” Schroeder said.
Mushrooms grower-shippers say the recession has been felt to varying degrees in the foodservice category.
Foodservice operators are seeking out value-added items to save labor in the kitchen, said Paul Frederic, senior vice president of sales and marketing for To-Jo Mushrooms, Avondale, Pa.
The company offers a number of foodservice items, including sauteed, flavored and sliced portabella mushrooms that are fully prepared and just need to be heated up, he said.
To-Jo also offers customized flavors and blends for foodservice.
At Gourmet Mushrooms, Engel said the company experienced a bit of a decline at the height of the recession.
“I think that’s over,” he said.
“(Restaurants) still want good value, but they know their name is built in part by the ingredients they source,” he said.
To some extent, foodservice business has rebounded for Phillips Mushroom Farms, but not the point where Donovan is willing to declare the recession over.