Monthly Archives: December 2016

  1. Prix Fixe for New Year's Eve

    Close-up of champagne explosion

    New Year's Eve is a great night to boost your sales. It's, quote, "the biggest party night of the year," and that means reservations galore. Expect to pack your tables with customers, both regulars and newcomers, and plan accordingly to give guests what they're looking for. Because it's a big night for celebrating, people are willing to spend a little more, and because you'll be fairly full, keeping things streamlined in the kitchen is essential. A great solution to both of these points? Prix fixe. Appetizer, entree, and dessert allow for simple course options which will be easy for your kitchen to execute quickly, and also will allow you to charge a premium for a table. Here are some tips for optimizing your New Year's Eve dinner flow:

    Two seatings are best. Depending on how early you start, you could (probably) seat three turnovers, but attempting to do so may create havoc for tables that want to linger over coffee, in addition to making an early seating with is too early for many people to arrive. A 7 pm and 10 pm seating are ideal - this will allow people plenty of time to linger, enjoy wine and and beverages (increasing your table cost per person) and still give you plenty of space. Consider adding a champagne toast and party favors to your latest seating in order to increase the party atmosphere - and your price point. For reservations, make sure you are marketing reservations in advance, but accept walk ins at the bar with a regular or lighter menu for those more informal drop ins for folks pre-gaming their evening at your establishment prior to dinner or dancing plans.

    Cocktails, cocktails, cocktails. This is a night for celebrations, so plan accordingly and offer a couple sparkling and holiday themed cocktails at an additional cost, naturally. Offering a discount on a premium bottle of champagne or sparkling wine will also up your average sale cost. And be sensitive to road safety - partnering with a local driver service or Uber to ensure that designated driving is a key point for drivers will increase both neighborhood safety and the comfort of your guest. Consider printing special check presenters, or just let your staff know to push both alcoholic beverages AND safe driving policies for every table you seat.

    Finally - menu options. Rich and over the top cuisine sells a celebration - bust out the lobster or even the foie gras - but ensure that your cover cost reflects a profit while still ensuring your average price point isn't significantly higher than the average restaurant experience would be. In other words - if you're a casual establishment - perhaps offer a kobe burger instead of a $40 dry aged steak option. Another choice is to create entree options which are pricier, but a la carte. So if your prix fixe is priced at $70, have the lobster entree option available for an additional $10. Be sensitive to dietary needs and restrictions also - if you can offer a vegan or a gluten free option - or both! - it will make for a more comfortable dining experience for all.

    Here's wishing you and your staff a Happy New Years! Enjoy the holiday and we will see you in 2017.

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  2. Chanukah - a special Holiday to Market to your Customers

    Glowing Hanukkah Candles

    Chanukah is eight nights of celebrations, candles, and gifts. That gives you eight opportunities to sell your restaurant's goods and services to consumers looking to celebrate with their loved ones. No need to put an entire Chanukah menu in place, but consider adding some traditional items to your dinner specials, such as latkes (recipe below).

    In addition to dinner plans, your guests will be giving gifts for eight nights in a row. Gift cards are the perfect way to boost your sales, and eight nights of gifts means small denomination gift cards will be purchased by your customers in multiples. Consider staging photos with Chanukah chocolates or dreidels, or targeting your gift card Facebook posts to users who are interested in Jewish holidays to boost your gift card sales.

    Finally, check your calendar. The dates of Chanukah vary every year - sometimes earlier, sometimes later - so take time to do a little research in November to ensure your marketing and menu plan and perfectly in place for all eight nights of celebration - and sales for your establishment.

    Latke Recipe

    YIELD
    Makes 12 to 16 latkes
    ACTIVE TIME
    45 min
    TOTAL TIME
    45 min

    INGREDIENTS

    • 1 pound potatoes
    • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
    • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 to 3/4 cup olive oil
    • Accompaniments: sour cream and applesauce
    Preparation
    • Preheat oven to 250°F.
    • Peel potatoes and coarsely grate by hand, transferring to a large bowl of cold water as grated. Soak potatoes 1 to 2 minutes after last batch is added to water, then drain well in a colander.
    • Spread grated potatoes and onion on a kitchen towel and roll up jelly-roll style. Twist towel tightly to wring out as much liquid as possible. Transfer potato mixture to a bowl and stir in egg and salt.
    • Heat 1/4 cup oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking. Working in batches of 4 latkes, spoon 2 tablespoons potato mixture per latke into skillet, spreading into 3-inch rounds with a fork. Reduce heat to moderate and cook until undersides are browned, about 5 minutes. Turn latkes over and cook until undersides are browned, about 5 minutes more. Transfer to paper towels to drain and season with salt. Add more oil to skillet as needed. Keep latkes warm on a wire rack set in a shallow baking pan in oven.
    Cooks' notes:
    ·Latkes may be made up to 8 hours ahead. Reheat on a rack set over a baking sheet in a 350°F oven, about 5 minutes. ·Grating the potatoes, soaking them briefly in water, and then squeezing out the liquid (as we've done here) keeps the batter from turning brown too quickly.
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  3. All the Little Details

    Stainless Steel Equipment in Empty Kitchen

    Opening a new restaurant? Congratulations. We hope you're shopping for the best equipment with the best prices with us. You have so many decisions to make, and we hope this handy check list will help you get everything you need prior to the big day, without a stressful experience:

    Big Equipment: do research into every single piece of equipment that you buy. Make sure the sizes match the sizes of your build out (there's a big difference between a 48 and a 52 inch cooler if you only have space for 48 inches). Look into energy efficient designs that will save you money in the long run. Shop our full collection for the best deals and prices!

    Little equipment: chefs knives, dishes, plates, forks, soap dispensers, brooms, mops, paper towels. The list is virtually endless. Get organized with a spreadsheet so that you can check items off if you purchase them. And take advantage of the end of the year - and the end of tax season - to purchase as much as possible before January 1! It's all business expense and a write off for you.

    Front of house details: decor and design are the finishing touches on your big project. Take time to research and develop a decoration scheme which complements your brand, identity, and theme. From succulents to candles, the small accents are the final touches to create a perfect look.

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  4. New Years Day Brunch

    Traditional Manhattan brunch

    New Year's Eve is one of the biggest nights for restaurants of the year. You can't go wrong with the basics: a prix fixe menu and champagne toast at midnight. Simple, effective, and almost universal for a reason, you can pack in reservations and keep your customers happy with a showcase of your menu which will also offer a high profit margin. But what to do the next day?

    "Recovery brunch" is an increasingly popular and easy to execute theme. The idea is simple - hungover customers will enjoy a meal which will lessen their hangover and allow them to socialize at the same time. It doesn't have to be unhealthy - this type of brunch can go two ways. Healthy and light options allow for a physical recovery, whereas the 'hair of the dog' and great and salty comfort food also offers relief - at least temporary. Look at fun ingredients, like aloe vera and papaya, of go for classic and high alcohol speakeasy cocktails.

    Consider adding a DJ or Jazz band to up the entertainment factor of your brunch. Which direction you go in depends on your personal taste or your establishment's vibe, but the one thing you can guarantee is that live entertainment, particularly for New Years Day brunch, will up your covers on a very competitive day. Brunch is increasingly popular, so make sure your guests have a good reason to choose your establishment.

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  5. 2017 Minimum wage trends

    We have all heard at one point or another that the minimum wage for employees with increase exceedingly in the near future. The questions are though, how much will the minimum wage increase next year and where will the increase happen first? To be an operator in this industry we know the importance of running a lean shift and the importance of planning not only our schedules, but the price of food, drinks and in some instances administrative fee’s.

    National news suggests that the future of the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour remains uncertain and restaurant operates must prepare to increase their staffs pay once the new year hits. Certain states have already reported a hike in their minimum wages to $15 per hour starting promptly on January 1st, 2017. The $15 per hour rate has already rolled out in states such as New York and California.

    The rate of $15 per hour of course seems high and as operators we question why are we paying all of our employees such a high hourly minimum wage, especially those who are tipped? The answer, wages will be based off of non-tipped employees. This means a tipped hourly employee will see an increase in pay, but it will not be as high as those not tipped.

    Now, we do understand that any sort of wage increase is hard to take at first take some number crunching to figure out. But, it is possible and it will help your employees live a better life. All increases are based of the the price to live the state in which you operate in. If you are in a state with exceeding costs, chances are you will be paying your employees more. If you are in a state where the cost of living is low, you an expect a lower increase.

    We have seen certain establishments increase their pay rates prior to the state mandates and the reaction have been mixed reviews. Obviously employees greatly appreciate it, you may have a lump in your throat the first time you pay everyone and the businesses around you may hate you. This is because, other local businesses may then feel the pressure to pay their employees the same way. It is important to know that if you think it is right, DO IT. Paying your employees what they are worth is absolutely a necessity and if done before the mandate chances are they will respect you and work even harder.

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  6. Stand out this New Years Eve

    If your open on New Years Eve, and why wouldn’t you be, chances are you know the pressure of hosting a spectacular evening that will capture you guests attention and wow them throughout their dining experience. It is inevitable that every establishments with four doors and a wall will be competing for the same customers to dine and welcome in the new year with them. This being said, it becomes exceedingly important to promote your NYE’s promotions, but how exactly are you able to stand out from the crowd and execute a successful NYE party.

    All steps come from within; being creative, attentive and strategic will allow you to build a night that will be remembered by all those in attention.

    1 - Be Creative - If you are looking to ramp up your customer engagement and excitement developing a competition where the winner will be announced that night. Offer a complimentary champagne toast to all guest or a signature cocktail. This will capture guests attentions when looking for a place to celebrate and will surely captivate a large audience base. If you are in an area where numerous shows are playing try working with a ticketing partner. It is important to appeal to niche audiences and it is very important to make your consumers NYE experience smooth and enjoyable. Consider offering a prefixed menu, allowing your customers to eat a delicious meal in a timely manner. Guests will greatly appreciate your thoughtfulness and planning ahead.

    2 - Focus on a niche audience - When trying to stand out from the crowd, the first thing that is important for you to do is STOP TRYING TO PLEASE EVERYONE. Instead of running a generic NYE event, focus on a particular demographic. This will allow you to focus on a true targeted audience, it will allow you to create an event that is much more appealing to a specific group than just anyone. Remember that the more specific your audience, the better you will be able to match the event you will promote your event to your customers interests. It will be just as profitable to market toward a niche market than the entire area your business serves.

    3 - Pick the right theme - Now that you have honed on a niche market it is your job to pick a theme for your NYE event that will elevate your establishment over your competitors. A well planned evening can be devised in clever ways that can be incorporated into the dress code, food, drink, location and venue, music, entertainment, games and decor. Popular themes include James Bond, Alice in Wonderland, 80’s Rock and a plethora of other ideas.

    New Years Even can become one of he most popular and successful nights. If you are able to be creative and meticulous with your planning your audience will recognize your attention to detail. We hope you have a successful NYE’s and our tips help you plan a memorable evening.

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  7. Make the season merry and bright!

    Tis’ the season of being cheerful, happy and light hearted. For those of us in the industry we know the importance of the holiday season, to impress those hosting company parties and create a memorable experience for all those in attendance. Customers are typically more joyful, pleasant to serve and more likely to add additional gratuity to their checks.

    Tips for customer service professionals tend to increase during the holiday season from a national average of 19.47 percent to 24.13 percent. While the cause of holiday tip rates remains a mystery, customers are simply more giving/ generous or that they recognize their servers working are creating memories for them instead of their families, customers do tend to spread the wealth during the holiday season!

    Just as important to note, it is not just your staff’s wallets and tip percentages from your consumers generosity during the holiday season. It’s simple to understand that servers respond well when receiving higher gratuity percentages, they tend to give exceptional service and make your customers happier when visiting. This directly correlates to a higher brand recognition, restaurant reviews and a heightened exposure to your current market place.

    As the owner/ manager of a restaurant it is important to disclose the proper protocol and tools to guide your staff to make the the most of the season. By alerting your staff that there is a much higher rate that consumers will tip higher, ensure your entire staff is on top of their game and that you continuously encourage your staff to raise their check averages you will be in for a great season.

    Teaching your servers, bartenders and all other service personal that the higher the check corresponds to more gratuity is nothing new, but teaching them how to properly up-sell to consumers in a craft all of its own. Our studies show that guests are already tipping five percent higher, if your servers are able to raise their check averages even $20 more thats an additional $5 to $6 in their pockets. This can easily be achieved by adding an expensive entree special, wine feature or pre-fixed menu that traditionally gives the consumers the idea that they are receiving a great deal!

    Lastly, pay attention to even the smallest details during the season. Customers are in the generous mood, but you don’t want to discourage them with bad service and mistakes. Continuously watch over your staff, do line checks, make sure uniforms are cleaned and pressed, ensure cocktails are being prepared correctly and most of all manage your staff to execute superior service. The holidays are already in your favor, if everything runs smoothly your guests will leave happy as well as your employees.

    Now get out there and wow your guests!

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  8. Oh the joy of eggnog!

    We are in the depths of the holiday season and we all have been working diligently to create festive holiday cocktails that captivate our customers attention. As any treat there are numerous ways to craft the famous drink and for those who are fanatics they will tell you to put down the carton, real eggnog is made from scratch. Many experts agree the best come from aging your eggnog for at least three weeks and served with your favorite liquor.

    The trend of aging eggnog began to become popular in 2008 and simply involves making eggnog, placing it in the fridge and letting it age. Many enthusiasts explain that the best eggnogs are aged for a full year, but for the impatient consumers we have crafted a recipe that ferments the mixture of eggs, cream and booze for only three weeks.

    Since we know many of our consumers enjoy homemade cocktails we highly recommend making a batch of this delectable treat. It can be priced according to your restaurants branding, type of liquor choose and the size of the cocktail you will be serving to your guests. The cocktails can be presented in lovely ways that incorporate the holiday spirit!

    Below we have a wonderful recipe that is simple and delicious! We hope your customers love it as much as we do.

    Total: 10 minutes, plus 3 weeks for aging

    Makes: About 1 gallon

    Note: Unlike most eggnog recipes, this one calls for aging the eggnog for at least 3 weeks prior to consumption (or up to a year), to allows the flavors to meld. Age the eggnog in the refrigerator in a clean 1-gallon jug, and it worked just fine.

    For the eggnog:

    12 large eggs
    2 cups granulated sugar
    1 cup heavy cream
    1 qt (4 cups) whole milk
    1 liter (about 4 cups) bourbon, such as Jim Beam
    1/2 cup Myers’s dark rum
    1/2 to 1 cup good Cognac or other brandy
    Pinch kosher salt
    1 whole nutmeg

    To serve (optional):

    10 egg whites
    1 1/2 cups heavy cream

    For the eggnog:

    Separate egg yolks and whites. (Reserve egg whites for another use, such as egg-white frittata). Combine yolks and sugar in a large mixing bowl and whisk until well blended and creamy. Add cream, milk, bourbon, rum, Cognac (use the good stuff), and salt, then stir.

    Bottle it right away and refrigerate it until it’s ready. (An old liquor bottle works great, as do 22-ounce bail-top bottles, available in brewing supply stores. It’s traditional to wrap the bottle in aluminum foil, shiny side out, together with a fresh nut of nutmeg tucked into the foil for grating later. Keep refrigerated for at least 3 weeks, or up to a year if you can.

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  9. Food items to look out for in 2017

    Every year around this time we begin to think about what will be best for our establishments to serve in the upcoming year. What items will be profitable for the restaurant and which items will engage our consumers to keep coming back for more. We know in the grand scheme of things what’s hot in culinary trends right now may be obsolete next month.

    We know that right now you are busy every night with holiday parties and can’t even begin to think about planning a new menu but, if you are proactive while planning your next menu, chances are you will be successful.

    Looking through up and coming trends in late 2016, we were able to identify a few stand out menu trends that will be sure to capture your guests attention!

    1 - Street Food- Consumers can't seem to get enough of this tasty snack. This is evident when you drive by any food truck with lines 10 to 20 people deep. Consumers love the ethnic vibe street food offers and it is a simple and economical way to please your guests palates, along with your bottom line.

    2 - Sustainable Seafood- There is no surprise when you say consumers love seafood. It has been a staple for years for those who love dining out. What is new however is that consumers want to know where their food is coming from and making sure it is sustainable. Consumers want to know what they are eating is not only delicious but, that it will not hurt the local fisheries.

    3 - Housemade Condiments- Believe it or not, consumers enjoy knowing that their condiments are made in house. This can be anything from ketchup, mustard, dressings and more. Making condiments in house can add an unique flavor profile and a personal touch your customers will adore.

    4 - Heirloom Fruits & Vegetables- Heirloom vegetables are old-time varieties, open-pollinated instead of hybrid, and saved and handed down through multiple generations of families. These vegetables tend to be slightly more expensive to purchase but, are able to captivate all of the sense: sight, sound, smell and taste.

    5 - Ethnic Spices- In years prior we have seen trends focusing on traditional cooking methods, this year we will see a rise in the spices used. Unique spices which are able to bring your menu items to a different level and become inclusive of multiple cultures.

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  10. The trick to selling more gift cards!

    On average 90 percent of American consumers purchased or received at least one gift card in 2015. Almost half of that population who purchased the gift cards physically went to the store to purchase them. The the holiday season upon us, we must strategically execute a single or multiple promotions that with entice our audience to feel the want and need to buy gift cards with us.

    It is no secret that consumers can search the web to find stellar deals on gift cards to OUR establishment, many websites auction gift cards for sale at a discounted rate, this not only rewards the consumer for shopping online but, disincentives them to buy at your restaurant and in the end hurting your business.

    There is hope however, in the past years we have discovered that if you are able and willing to give consumers a true incentive for purchasing gift cards with you, especially in store than your will have a much high likely hood of seeing profits grow. Incentives should entice consumers to either back to your establishment, create a feeling of respect and above of all show that you appreciate their business.

    Here are a few promotions that we have seen to work in the past to expand your gift card sales!

    1. Show off your personality- It’s the holidays, so invite your staff to have a little fun with gift card sales. Don’t be afraid to be corny to get their attention. Place gift cards strategically throughout your restaurant to capture their attention! Customers respond well to fun ideas!

    2. Offer a food reward instead of money- Offer something that will make your consumer come back to you! Many restaurants will offer a complimentary drink, appetizer or even entree ( depending on price) to make the consumer want to purchase a gift card with you as well as have the desire to come back! It is a win win for who they are buy the gift card for and themselves.

    3. Take advantage of the Internet- Black Friday and Cyber Monday may be over, but don’t let that stop you from running your own one-day gift card sale online or in the restaurant. Go crazy and truly have your restaurant over everything for a few days! Make you consumers know exactly who you are and what you offer!

    4. Provide instant gratification- The holidays are all about giving, but most consumers also enjoy a good bit of receiving, too. Offer a deal too good to miss, a 10% bounce back card for every $100 spent or a $25 card to come back in for every $100 spent. The key here is to get the attention, spend money and come back in at a later date!

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