Monthly Archives: June 2016

  1. Tips to Create a Better Lunch Experience for your Restaurant

    sandwich for lunch

    Lunch represents a huge monetary opportunity for restaurants - and although you can provide the same service and menu as you would for dinner, you will increase your tables, turn around, and profits if you tailor the experience to the meal - and what your customers want!

    Speed is one of the first factors diners mention when going to lunch. Some offices provide a strict hour timeline to eat, and if that includes travel time, it may be difficult for diners to enjoy their lunch experience and get in and out in a timely manner. Express lunch options will allow those in a hurry to get in and out speedily. Multi course and fast to prepare, these can also increase the cost per head per diners and boost your profits, while giving the kitchen easy, pre-prepped food choices which will make for speedy kitchen service. Another tip is to have the servers ask if there are any time constraints when parties are seated. Some people may not like to be rushed - particularly if their lunch is also a business meeting. By asking, your restaurant can provide speedy service to those in a hurry without rushing those who may choose to linger.

    If you work in an area with lot of office buildings, don't forget the potential for boxed/catered lunches. You can prepare boxed meals for pick up/delivery for those who don't have time to eat a sit down meal at an affordable price point and boost your revenue while also keeping your labor costs down. Advertise with local HR managers and pick up catering for luncheons also in local office buildings.

    Don't be afraid to research your competition also. By going to lunch a your competitor's establishments, you can get valuable insights into what works for them and then transfer that, when applicable, to your own menu. Buck a shuck? Omelettes for lunch? Research Instagram as well for creative ideas on how to increase your lunch game.

    Finally, don't assume that every diner is going to be an office worker. Stay at home moms and dads with kids in tow - and discretionary income - are a great target for lunch. Offer a great lunch menu for kids and advertise to local moms groups and at the library in order to target the 'ladies who lunch,' and their littles!

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  2. Building Social Capital for your Restaurant

    sos taste of the nation

    Share our Strength is a great, national food based charity for those looking to connect.

    What is social capital? It's: "the network of social connections that exist between people, and theirshared values and norms of behaviour, which enable and encouragemutually advantageous social cooperation (DICTIONARY.COM)."

    But in a broader sense than the literal definition, social capital speaks to the intangible, non-monetary, but still incredibly valuable 'capital' a business can build by supporting the community around it and giving back to those in need. Warby Parker is a famous, and very successful, example of a business which gives back heavily of itself by donating a pair of glasses for each pair they sell. Newman's Own is another, food based socially minded business, which gives "all profits to charity" and focuses as a non-profit.

    Both of the above mentioned businesses build tremendous social values by giving to those in need with every sale they make. For restaurants, the charity model is possible on a much smaller, scaleable, and easy to manage scale. No matter your neighborhood - there are good causes which need help and support. And it doesn't have to be monetary based - literally everyone has to eat, and food donations are always appreciated. Bakeries can donate day old bread to homeless shelters. Pizza places can sponsor their local little leagues with fun pizza party fundraisers.

    For higher end restaurants, sampling opportunities abound, especially in big, metropolitan areas. Almost every museum and major charity, whether arts based or social needs based, hosts a large fundraiser every year to provide vital funding for their various initiatives. Many of these fundraisers take the form of galas with a silent auction, where you can donate gift cards, but even better are those which have stations where chefs cook food in small portions for guests. The food costs for these events is usually not terribly high, and the marketing impact is very good as it brands your establishment as a socially conscious establishment whilst simultaneously showing off your goods to a large crowd of typically affluent and entertainment focused individuals. So get out in your community and look for chances to do good. It will help you connect with potential customers and make a positive impact at the same time.

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  3. Big Data and its growing importance to the Restaurant Industry

    restaurant energy use

    Big Data used to be inaccessible to all but the largest companies, but the rise of computerized information means that restaurants large and small can now take advantage of it.

    Although “big data” seems complicated, it’s just the process of collecting as much data as possible about customers in order to better serve them. Everyone realizes that understanding analytics is imperative to improving business operations, but few people actually know how to use it.

    Previously, big data analytics was the domain of major corporations such as Amazon. Now, thanks to advances in software and hardware capability and access to cloud-based services, restaurants of all sizes can use big data software to mine information from their POS, marketing, accounting, inventory and scheduling systems.

    Analyzing and understanding big data allows for restaurants to reduce waste and increase efficiency, particularly with food orders and labor costs. In addition, it allows restaurants to better predict trends for year over year sales.

    Analyzing this data will help readers better understand customer preferences, improve menus and service, and improve operations providing customers with a better experience. This will ultimately lead to significant improvements in the bottom line.

    Since competition in the restaurant business is at an all-time high, having an effective big data system is critical. Stay on top of your business and pay attention tot he analytics. Investment in reporting can pay off big when it yields a massive increase to your bottom line!

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  4. Shaken or stirred? A quick guide to how to mix your favorite cocktails.

    shaken not stirred

    TGIF! As part of our weekly cocktail series, we bring you some handy tips on mixed drink prep. James Bond famously asked for a martini, 'shaken, not stirred,' but - we hate to report: 007 was incorrect.

    A classic martini contains dry elements which do not need to be shaken to be combined. In fact, a shaken martini (or manhattan) may end up with ice chips as it's a very delicate mix of similarly weighted liquors which requires only a couple brisk stirs and a strain in order to mix effectively.

    So what's the point of a shaken cocktail? Anything with heavier elements, such as fruit (or a flip egg white cocktail) requires a vigorous shaking in order to combine the elements in the drink properly. So shake up your daiquiri, your margarita, your cosmo, or any other cocktail which has thick, heavy ingredients which will require vigorous movement in order to meld them properly.

    Delicately stir your full liquor cocktails - particularly those with gin or whiskey, as it is said that shaking can 'bruise' the liquor. Below is a recipe for a classic stirred and a classic shaken cocktail to get you started. Happy bartending!

    Negroni

    1.5 oz sweet vermouth | 1.5 oz Campari | 1.5 oz gin | Orange twist to garnish

    Combine all ingredients, minus the garnish over ice in a cocktail shaker, stir several times, strain into a chilled highball, garnish and serve.

    Mai Tai

    1 oz light rum | 1 oz dark rum | 1 oz fresh lime juice | .5 oz Orange Curacao | .5 oz Orgeat syrup | .25 oz simple syrup | mint sprig garnish

    Pour all ingredients, except for the garnish, into a large cocktail shaker filled with two cups of crushed ice. Shake vigorously to combine, pour without straining into a highball glass, garnish and serve.

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  5. Throw Back Thursday - the Restaurant Scene in the 1920s

    1920 soda shop

    Today for throw back Thursday, we are looking at the restaurant scene in the 1920s. This was, most importantly, the era of prohibition in the USA. As restaurants lost their liquor margins, they turned to cheap, casual fast food alternatives - giving rise to the modern fast casual dining scene of today.

    Ice cream salons and soda shops were also immensely popular. Without bars (at least legal ones!) to social in, the ice cream shop became a meet and greet spot for those looking to socialize, date, and mingle. Sample dishes could contain chocolate ice cream, butterscotch, nuts, peaches, and whipped cream. Decadent and sugar filled, the dessert spots reigned supreme until prohibition finally ended.

    People were also dining out very frequently in the '20s. The emphasis on "American made" and "quick and clean" simple food without "European frivolousness" was all the rage. A fast economy, combined with cheap prices, meant that dining out at least 25% percent of the time was the norm for city dwellers. Women, with spare time to socialize, dined out more than men.

    Another super popular 1920 restaurant trend: the diner. The diner combined many of the elements of unpretentious, no alchohol, fast and convenient simple American foods that were the rage in the day. With sleek, ultramodern metallic finishes, fast and friendly service, and a range of simple crowd pleasing foods (including, of course, pie!) diners flourished in the 20s and sprang up all over the country.

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  6. Coffeeshop culture and the rise of the cold brew (plus tips on how to make it)

    coldbrew

    Millenial culture has shifted the demographic of the work force away from 9 to 5 and towards a freelance work force. We've blogged about this before - as well as the trend toward more hyper local, artisanal products. Both of these trends collide in the rise of independent coffee shops, which provide small batch, high quality goods as well as an engaging work environment and meeting space for those who work on the go.

    Cold brew is the drink of choice for the season in coffee shops. A method which produces an iced coffee superior to a drip brewed/iced down coffee, cold brew is simple to make and brings out flavor nuances which the coffee aficionados appreciate. Even if you don't have own a coffee shop, it's easy enough to bring cold brew to your own restaurant.

    Cold brew removes the bitterness from the coffee (heat is the main culprit in bitter beans - particularly if the beans are well roasted). It's also easier to digest, and when using high quality beans, it really brings out the nuances and flavors of the roast. You can easily make cold brew - no special equipment needed. Just put cold, filtered water in a french press (you can make a bigger batch using a cheesecloth and large vat if desired), and refridgerate for 12-14 hours without straining. Then strain and serve over ice. Easy, cool, and a delicious low calorie summer treat!

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  7. Top 10 Food Trends to watch in 2016

    no farms no food

    The National Restaurant Association has conducted extensive surveys to figure out 'what's trending' in 2016. Pay attention to the items below and boost your sales by giving your customers what they want, when they want it!

    1. Locally sourced meats and seafoods: the world grows bigger, but the culinary scene is focused smaller. Much smaller. Large factories still produce processed beef, but smaller farms are producer smaller, batch, artisanal products with higher flavors, lower environmental impact, and of course, a higher price point.

    2. Chef-driven fast casual concepts: the emphasis on quality extends to fast food. When chefs design a fast food menu, its less likely to be your standard burger and fries and more likely to be bahn mi sliders and other artisanal gourmet products.

    3. Locally grown product: mirroring the trend in protein, local vegetables and fruits are king. CSAs, particularly ones offering organic product, are on the rise. Nutritious, eco friendly, and affordable, using fresh vegetables and cooking seasonally elevates the flavor profile of the dishes in your restaurant.

    4. Hyper-local sourcing: again, think CSAs. Not only are you buying locally, but you're buying from a farm right up the street.

    5. Natural ingredients/minimally processed food: when you're using local kale and wild caught salmon, chances are you're not reaching for the MSG to season it. The return to simple foods includes a backlash against over processed ingredients, in all of their forms.

    6. Environmental sustainability: by sourcing locally, the environmental impact is cut down in many ways. Less trucks are used to transport the food. Less chemicals are used to grow the food. Smaller batches means less environmental waste and greenhouse gasses. Overall, the local, organic food movement significantly reduces wear and tear not he planet.

    7. Healthful kids' meals: McDonalds, the giant of fast food, is keen to shed its image and links to child obesity. With smaller portion and more fruit options, they are paying attention to this trend. But many consumers are taking it further and purchasing non processed, non GMO food for their children to ensure they receive the healthiest possible food.

    8. New cuts of meat: tomahawk ribeye is a great example of this trend. A bone in rib eye which resembles an axe (hence the name) the tomahawk is flavorful and one of the newer cuts of meat that chefs are showcasing alongside the classics in their steak cases.

    9. Sustainable seafood: sustainable seafood has ethical implications more far reaching than the environment. With links to slavery, the shrimp industry is often considered 'dirty' and without being able to verify the source of the shrimp, there's a chance it has very unsavory origins. Seafood that is certified ethical is also sourced without over fishing, thereby reducing the impact on fish populations overall.

    10. House made/artisan ice cream: a delicious treat to round off the list. Ice cream is simple to make and requires few ingredients. Arethusa Farms is a great example of a local ice cream store making artisan product with local ingredients. Use artisanal milk, play around with flavors, and have fun creating sweet treats for your customers!

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  8. Whose applying for that open position? The answer may surprise you!

    Smiling Bartender

    The era of high school servers may not be completely finished, but it drawing closer to an end. Recent data shows an older demographic (40-60) taking up the jobs usually occupied by high schoolers and college students in restaurants: serving tables and hostessing.

    Why is this? The unemployment rate has improved drastically in the past couple of years, but part of the reason for this trend is that people are taking whatever jobs they can get. It may be more difficult to support a family and pay a mortgage working part time gigs, but if that's what the option is, then that's what you do. The news isn't all bad however - not only are restaurants thriving and dynamic work environments, but tips can raise wages above the average retail job significantly - particularly for those in busy, bustling restaurants.

    The rise of foodie culture in the US may also be part of reason for this trend. As more restaurants take the time to provide stellar cutting edge cuisine sourced locally and following the latest in cooking trends, the server body follows with more knowledgeable and career driven servers. In Europe, it's not uncommon to make restaurant service a life long profession - and perhaps this is to become the case in the USA also.

    Also noteworthy: more people are working for themselves and, in doing self employed contractor work, they may be interested in a 'side gig' to supplement their income. For that matter, self motivated millenials may also be turning to a part time after hours job just to make a little extra for that vacation - or car payment. Whatever the case may be, the labor force is shifting to an older, more mature group. And while they may not move quite as quickly as the teenagers, these older workers tend to be more reliable and, not surprisingly, more mature than their teenage counterparts.

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  9. Best Leftovers to Bring to the Beach!

    fried chicken It’s beach season-- at any moment, the great weather might call us seaside. With no time to whip up the perfect lunch, what can we grab from the fridge that’s already beach-perfect? Make something for your customers that will be great tonight, and tomorrow, too. Or have a to-go item that’s so beach-friendly, beachgoers will stop by your restaurant before the lunch rush to get their favorites. Fried chicken

    Leftover fried chicken is the perfect beach food. Cold, savory, and satisfying-- it’s a classic. Keep it simple, or give your customers a flight of dipping sauces for the road. If you’ve got boneless wings around, try wrapping them in collard greens for an easy-to-eat and easy-to-love wrap.

    Fruit and Veggie Skewers

    Nobody wants to hack a melon apart in between subathing. Ball up cantelope, watermelon, or whatever other fruit is in season in your area and make gorgeous, affordable kabobs. Pack your tupperware with mint to bring out the flavor.

    Wrap it Up

    All it takes is some creativity and anything can be a great cold wrap. Steak tips, goat cheese, and cherry tomatoes? Check. Diced potatoes and ground beef? Mmm. Chicken and avacado? Throw any flavors you want in there, wrap it in a tortilla or a big lettuce leaf, and enjoy. If you’re feeling especially bold, bring a selection of ingredients and have the family make their own. Picnic table recommended!

    Cold Sesame Noodles

    Nothing’s more refreshing on the beach than the cool, spicy, and filling flavors of this awesome dish. This is the beach food everyone will be jealous of. This is what you’ll want to eat just after finishing up a long swim. Put this on your menu and suggest folks take it away for their beach day.

    Yesterday’s Cheese plate

    So much cheese, so little time. Easy to pack and much on all day long, a cheese plate will go a long way for marathon beach-goers. Pack a selection of crackers and toasts, too-- and a little fig jam never hurt anyone.

    Iced Coffees and Teas

    Load up a few thermoses of iced teas and coffees to top it off.

    Pack it all in as much ice as you can manage, and get swimming- and snacking! Your customers will thank you-- or maybe this is just what you’ll want to do on your Monday off, when all your customers are back at their desks and you’re living the restaurant life.

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  10. The top earning Chefs and how they got their start

    The restaurant business can be tough, but those at the top definitely pull in a significant amount of cash! Hard work, persistence, star power, and of course, a passion for excellence is one thing that all three top earners have in common. With multiple restaurants and cookbook endorsements, as well as TV shows and licensed food ware, the sky the limit in terms of earnings for these chefs who made their name their brand and then drove that brand to great success:

    wolfgang puck - 1

    1. Wolfgang Puck's estimated net worth is $400 million. An Australian native, Wolfgang worked as an apprentice in Paris before emigrating to the United States. His first restaurant was Ma Maison in Los Angeles.

    jamie oliver - 1

    2. Jamie Oliver is worth around $150 million total. He started out at Antonio Carlucci's Neal's Yard Restaurant, where he was mentored by Gennaro Contaldo. He was spotted by the BBC several years later, which launched his show, "The Naked Chef," a well as his status as a celebrity.

    gordon ramsay - 1

    3. Gordon Ramsay got an accidental start to the culinary world. He opened Restaurant Gordon Ramsay in 1998. In 2001, the restaurant was the first owned by a person of Scottish descent to earn three Michelin stars. He is estimated to be worth $118 million.

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