Monthly Archives: January 2017

  1. National Food Holidays to Market in February

    Superbowl! Valentines Day! February is a month filled with celebration - probably because it's both short and (depending on where you live) a bit on the dark and gloomy side. We've already discussed the two 'big' holidays to look out for this month - but what about national days? These days, also known as 'hashtag holidays' highlight a particular food item or event in order to get it trending.

    National food days are a fun way to promote your restaurant's strongest offerings. Using the hash tags on Instagram (today, for example, is #nationalcroissantday) can push your profile higher and create buzz for your business.

    national croissant day

    Mmmmm. Croissants.

    So take a look at the the list below, and choose ones that fit your brand. You can offer specials the day of also if you'd like, but most people use national food marketing days as a simple, fun, quirky way to celebrate their menus and restaurant's strengths.

    FEBRUARY 1 National Baked Alaska Day

    FEBRUARY 3

    National Carrot Cake Day

    FEBRUARY 5 Bubblegum Day #BubblegumDay

    FEBRUARY 6 National Frozen Yogurt Day

    FEBRUARY 7 National Fettuccine Alfredo Day

    FEBRUARY 9 National Bagel Day (Formerly Bagel and Lox Day) National Pizza Day

    FEBRUARY 10 National Cream Cheese Brownie Day

    FEBRUARY 11 National Peppermint Patty Day

    FEBRUARY 12

    National Plum Pudding Day

    FEBRUARY 13 National Tortellini Day

    FEBRUARY 14

    National Cream-Filled Chocolates Day

    Valentine’s Day

    FEBRUARY 15 National Gumdrop Day

    FEBRUARY 16 National Almond Day

    FEBRUARY 17 National Cabbage Day

    FEBRUARY 18 National Crab Stuffed Flounder Day National Drink Wine Day

    FEBRUARY 19 National Chocolate Mint Day

    FEBRUARY 20 National Cherry Pie Day

    FEBRUARY 21 National Sticky Bun Day

    FEBRUARY 22 National Cook a Sweet Potato Day National Margarita Day

    FEBRUARY 23 National Banana Bread Day National Toast Day National Chili Day – Fourth Thursday in February

    FEBRUARY 24 National Tortilla Chip Day

    FEBRUARY 25 National Chocolate Covered Nut Day National Clam Chowder Day

    FEBRUARY 26 National Pistachio Day

    FEBRUARY 27 National Kahlua Day National Strawberry Day

    FEBRUARY 28 National Chocolate Souffle Day

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  2. Restaurant Flatware - What You Should Know

    Fork, spoon and knife on white

    What’s in your restaurant flatware? How is it made? Steel is made from a hybrid of metals, and with that hybrid comes quality designations. There are ratings for quality for your flatware, based on the strength of the metals within it. When you see numbers like 18/0, 18/10, and 18/8, that refers to the percentages of other elements that there are in the flatware.

    The 18 in 18/0 refers to the amount of chromium in the restaurant flatware. The 0 refers to the percentage of nickel. That nickel content is what increases the resistance to corrosion, meaning that the 18/0 flatware will stain over time, but it’s honestly still as strong as the other types of flatware that are out there.

    The lower grade of flatware offers several advantages, not the least of which being that those who are allergic to nickel don’t have to worry. The second is that when there is no nickel, that eliminates a higher priced metal for the flatware.

    Moving on, the 18/10 stainless steel means that there is 18% chromium and 10% nickel content. This provides a higher quality of flatware for your restaurant, as there’s a better appearance as well as more strength within the steel itself. It will be a little more expensive, but it might also be just the thing for your restaurant.

    The third type is the 18/8. This is just a slight bit down from the 18/10, so the price is just a bit lower. This is a lower nickel content for those with allergies, but you can get more stunning looks with the stainless steel.

    Stainless steel flatware is the only type of flatware that you should be using for your patrons. It is not only easier to clean, but it is also dishwasher safe.

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  3. Menu Design - Tips and Tricks

    Couple reading menu at restaurant

    What is the one thing your guests are guaranteed to look at when they are in your restaurant? Why, your menu of course! Unless they are such regulars that they know what they want without checking (and even then, they will probably take a glance just to see what you're up to) your menu will create a big, lasting impression on your customers. So ensure that it's laid out well, pleasingly designed, up to date, and typo free.

    How often should you update your menu? That really depends on your brand. Some restaurants print new menus daily. This can be very cost prohibitive - and printing out on a regular office printer with no graphic design is just not going to cut it. Unless you have a good system in place - and a cheap one - printing your menu out yearly or quarterly is just fine. There's no need to create a new menu every time a dish changes - just keep in on the specials menu. But don't write things in using pen and ink, either. Your customers want a clean, sophisticated dining experience. the more you can do to provide that, the better. Make sure your logos and colors are well reflected on the menu also.

    Having a lunch, dinner, happy hour, cocktail, and dessert menus printed separately also makes sense. Happy hour in particular should always be printed separately and distributed only when available. Same rule goes for brunch. This is just common sense, really. You don't want your customers craving food that is not currently available. So train your staff to present the appropriate menus for the time of day, day of the week, and location within the bar. And make sure all your menus have the same look, feel, quality of materials, and graphic design, so that they are completely cohesive for the customer.

    In addition to your appetizers, entrees, and desserts, consider adding recommended wine pairings to your dinner menu. If you have a couple bottles in your cellar with a higher profit margin, push those out on the menu and create an easy upset for your dinner guests. Finally, make sure all your menus are organized in a way that is simple to read, and that your servers are knowledgeable about the entire menu to ensure that any questions can be easily and promptly answered.

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  4. Eating Healthy While Dining Out

    Cutting a vegetables for salad

    You’ve been committing to being healthy all week… eating clean, meal prepping, and hitting the gym, but then comes the weekend. You want to go out, but you don’t want to get off track and sabotage all your hard work.

    Well, there’s no reason why your social life has to be sacrificed if you’re trying to live a healthy lifestyle. Spending time with friends & enjoying life is important for your health too.

    Eating out might seem daunting at first, there’s so many delicious temptations. Cheesy appetizers, bottomless breadsticks, and a dessert menu to die for!

    You want it all, but the key is to simply be mindful of what you order. You can still have an amazing night out without waking up the next morning feeling full of regret in a food coma.

    Here are some helpful tips for your next night out!

    • Avoid words on the menu like, fried, battered, buttery, smothered & breaded. Instead look for words like, broiled, steamed, baked, fresh, sauteed, & grilled.
    • The bread or chips might be free, but that doesn’t mean you have to fill up on empty calories. Try to save room the meal and avoid mindless munching!
    • You love salads, but they’re all loaded extra high-cal ingredients…Just ask for the waiter to hold the cheese, candied pecans, tortilla chips etc. & get the dressing on the side.
    • Don’t obsess over the food & inhale it right away! The best part of the meal should be the company you keep. Take your time chewing, & enjoy conversation. Eating isn’t a race.
    • Salads aren’t the only healthy option. Opt for a protein with veggies. It’s the perfect combo to satisfy your hunger, but also nourish your body.
    • Sip water throughout the meal to stay hydrated. Many times we mistake thirst for hunger.
    • Most importantly, don’t feel guilty about treating yourself. Living a healthy lifestyle is all about balance! If you want to order that cake with the chocolate ganache DO IT. Share it with your friends, savor all the flavors, and don’t regret it.

     

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  5. The perfect Espresso Martini

    treva cocktail

    Time for a cocktail! Here's a recipe for a well beloved classic - the Espresso Martini. It's just the thing after a big, heavy weekend meal when you want to perk up, but still want to keep the party going. Good espresso is key to a successful Espresso Martini - so this drink will work well on your menu if you have an espresso machine.

    This also works well as a mid week cocktail, as the combination of caffeine and alcohol won't totally slow you down. Bottom line? Put an espresso martini on your menu as a staple - it works for multiple situations and is a perennial favorite.

    Here is the simple execute recipe for the above pictured Espresso Martini of Treva:

    1.5 oz Stoli Vanilla Vodka

    .75 oz Kahlua

    .75 oz mezzaluna espresso

    1 oz espresso

     

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  6. Happy Hour Tips and Tricks

    Happy hour neon sign

    Happy Hour. A fun time to get together, get a snack, and enjoy some great food and drink specials! Keeping prices low and quality high can be challenging, so here are some tips on how to craft the perfect happy hour and keep your customers "happy" while still maintaining your bottom line and quality.

    Choose your times wisely. If you're in a busy area, an hour long happy hour is more than decent. 5-6 pm? Monday - Friday? Sure, why not. But if you're off the beaten path and looking to lure in more customers, consider extending that time period - 3-7? Seven days a week? It's up to you - but make it worth your customers' time - and also - if they have to travel to you, chances are a longer time period will equal many more customers. Consider a late night or industry themed happy hour as well. Monday night is a great time for industry folks to get out and enjoy themselves, and considering that they probably have friends in your restaurant (or perhaps they already work for you!) you have a built in fan base just waiting to be tapped. So put together a foodie focused, industry only late hours menu for Sunday and Monday night, and consider a late night happy hour as well (10-12 pm?)

    Your cocktail, beer, and wine list. Most people don't go to happy hour looking for a full meal. It's a fun place to socialize, grab a couple small bites (more on that below) and, most importantly, enjoy an adult beverage after a long day in the office. Therefore, your beverage choices are very important. Play to your strengths and also your brand when designing your happy hour cocktail list. If you're known for your mixology, having a killer cocktail (or two) available for happy hour is such better than a mixed well drink (cheap alcohol and mixer) option. Of course, you can still use cheap alcohol, but use flair and create an actual cocktail that your customers will appreciate. Have a large craft beer list? Offer it for a couple dollars off. Known for your wine cellar? Get a spectacular glass of wine on the menu at a very reasonable price. And yes, it's possible you may only break even for some of these items (ditto for food). But offering a great impression during happy hour will only lead to more business at lunch and dinner. So don't skimp on ingredients or go too cheap and offer a bad representation of your regular menu.

    Finally, the food. You've figured out the basics - time, drinks, now think about some fun bar snacks to go along with these dishes. Small cheese plates, charcuterie boards, sliders, and two bite appetizers are all fun. No one expects large portions at happy hour, so it's completely fine to keep the portions - and the prices - tiny. Offer mini versions of classics from your menu, and again, keep in mind that the happy hour food offerings should be an extensions of your regular list, not something totally out of left field and different. Size wise, keep it simple. 3-5 items is usually great. Same advice for your drinks list. Small, paired down, high quality, and fun. That's really all it takes!

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  7. Five Problems with Restaurant Hiring

    L

    This post is shared with permission from our friends at Toast. Check out their POS system and integrate your restaurant's technology in 2017!

    You are working hard to build your restaurant's team, and maybe things just don’t seem right. The team just doesn't gel together, there are some conflicts, and turnover is sky high. You read the blog posts and the books, and you feel like you are doing and saying the right things.

    So what's happening? What's going wrong?

    Well, I can think of at least 5 things.

    The Prelude to the Problem: How to Fix a Broken Restaurant Team

    Let's start off with a bit of hard truth - the best intentions are nothing without the right execution, no matter how good they may be. Knowing what to do is very different than doing what you know, especially if you are not aware of some of the problems in your restaurant that could be sabotaging your team building efforts.

    Remember this:“Awareness precedes choice and choice precedes change.”

    You have to be aware of the real problem before you can address it. This involves looking into the abyss of yourself as the leader of your restaurant to figure that problem out. After all, the truth will set you free...after it will first piss you off.

    The 5 Causes of a Poor Restaurant Team

    Restaurant team building is complex. It involves bringing a group of people with different dynamics and backgrounds together for the mutual benefit of your business.

    Here are some of the problems that restaurant owners face when trying to make their restaurant team work.

    1) Mixed Messages

    Communication errors account for most restaurant issues, either in the form of miscommunication or through a lack of communication. Mixed messages are a covert form of sabotage that can lead to mass hysteria and inconsistency in your restaurant..

    Let’s use an example of a restaurant with two owners. Say the owner of a restaurant wants beer to be poured for the guest at the table. The other owner does not like that, so they tell some of the team that it’s optional. The result? When you send out mixed messages, you get mixed standards.

    That brings inconsistency, which welcomes mediocrity.

    Once mediocrity sets up residence in your restaurant, you will need an eviction order to get it out!

    Mixed messages also contribute to team turnover. The last thing your team wants to be is bounced back and forth about what the standards are. People want to work for professionals, and not having a clear and consistent message just tells them that you don’t have your act together.

    2) No Plan

    If you were dropped off in the wilderness, how would you get back to civilization? You would pull out your map and compass and plot a course to get back to town. Your map and course help your formulate a plan. Without them, you’d just wander around aimlessly until they send out a search and rescue team to come find you (if a wild animal does not eat you).

    Your market can be just like being dropped off in the middle of nowhere. Without a solid plan (your map) and consistent action making adjustments (your compass), you’ll just wander day-to-day hoping that your business stays in the black. Once again, this does not instill confidence in the leader of the team. Even the Bible mentioned that, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.”

    Moral of the story: You need a plan and you need to share that plan with your team.

    Get them excited about your vision and how you will get there with their assistance. Most people like to feel a part of something bigger than themselves.

    3) Hidden Agendas

    While we are social creatures, humans also tend to be focused on self-preservation. Everyone has a hidden agenda - some bigger than others. This is not to imply that your team is evil, it’s just that survival is hard-wired into our DNA.

    Look how we form cliques in the restaurant industry:

    • FOH versus BOH.
    • Day team versus the night crew.
    • Your restaurant versus the one across the street.

    One huge human flaw is that we need an adversary to fight or form a team against.

    Unfortunately, teams don’t work that well when they have hidden agendas.

    This could be internal conflict in yourself or maybe within a team member, and can be derived from a lack of transparency and honesty. Honesty and transparency builds teams. Without those two elements, your team will never develop trust, and that is the foundation of all great teams. You don’t have to like all of the people on your team. However, you must respect them and trust them that they will do their job to the best they can.

    4) No Defined Roles

    It's shocking to discover that a lot of restaurant staff do not clearly know what their job is. Even worse, they think their job is one thing when it's actually quite different. Talk about having an identity crisis!

    If you have not sat down with people on your team to have a clear discussion about expectations and exactly what their job is as you see it, then you are missing the key to building a winning team.

    On military Special Operation Teams, everyone knows precisely what the role of everyone on the team is and who will take care of what as it occurs. They have to know. The cost is too great not to be prepared and to practice their roles.

    While people might not have life and death facing them like Special Operations Teams do, there still is a heavy cost to pay for restaurants that do not build an effective team…they close.

    Jobs lost, dreams crushed, and lives changed for the worse.

    5) Team Chemistry

    Understanding behavioral dynamics is key to a well-running restaurant team. There are personalities that work well together and some that are like oil and water. Knowing how to assemble a team that can work together is like creating a delicate recipe - you need the right balance of ingredients to make it work.

    There are four basic behavioral traits that everyone has, with one usually being your primary driver. Understanding these traits and which of your restaurant's employees posses them will open the door to better team development when you understand how people are wired.

    Dominance: The Take Charge Trait

    These people are the stand-out-of-my way people. They are rooted in the present and they love to make things happen. Their biggest strength is that they get results. They can be rough around the edges and are not much into small talk. Given too much power without proper guidance, they can become tyrants. When you need a project to get done, you get a high-dominance person to lead the charge.

    Extroverts: The People Trait

    These are the big-picture thinkers. They love people and actually get energy from being around them. They can be extremely creative and they like to talk about their ideas. These people are natural “sales people”. They make other feel very comfortable and are concerned about personal appearance. They are sometimes so caught up in the dream that following through with a task can be difficult. If you need a host for the party, you get a high extrovert.

    Pace: The Patience Trait

    These people are the team protectors. They like harmony and a peaceful work environment. “Why can’t we all get along?” is their mantra, and so they hold the team together like social glue. They want harmony so badly that they will shut down when confronted and it’ll be a challenge to get them to open back up. If you need someone to bring people together for a common goal, you get someone who is high pace.

    Conformity: The Systems Trait

    These people love facts, data, and systems. Nothing makes these people happy like rules and spreadsheets! Now they can tend to be more analytical and not as people-friendly as extroverts and pace traits. They will ask for more information or statistics until they feel they have enough information, which can slow down the team as they wait until they get what they need. If you need someone with attention to detail and who loves numbers for a task like inventory tracking, get a person with high conformity.

    Perfecting Your Restaurant Team

    As you can see, building a great team is very much a balancing act. Too much of one trait and not enough of another and your team will be out of sync. In the end, teams are about people, and having the right people on your team is the best thing you can do to pull together a winning team that will work together to help you build the restaurant you have envisioned.

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  8. Packaging for your Products

    Easter identity branding mockup set, eco concept

    Your customers come in to eat (or order a coffee, or a cocktail) - and then they take something home with them. Could be a to go bag - could be a bag of cookies - what it is depends, of course, on what you are selling. But what you can bank on is that the packaging you present your customers with has a psychological impact on how they view your business. So pay attention to the details, and make sure you're still making a good impression after they walk out the door:

    Quality is important. How something LOOKS is very important too of course - but nothing is more essential than ensuring that the contents of the box or bag or to go cup don't spill all over the floor, ruining their food and possibly their bag or clothing or car. Make sure you invest in durable, made to last packaging which won't break at the slightest touch. Flimsy bags, thin cups, etc. will only save you pennies per product, and they could be responsible for ensuring that you lose a valuable customer if something goes awry. So pay attention to quality, first and foremost.

    Make a suite of products. Once you have quality established, consider aesthetic. When you order to go products, put them all out together (especially if you're a cafe or another establishment that sells many pre packaged goods). Does everything look like it belongs together, or is it a hodge podge of random boxes and cups with no identity? Creating a similar look will go far to create a cohesive, polished feel for your product line. Chances are good your customers will never even notice the effort you've put in - except on a subconscious level. But everything you can do to create a positive, pleasant experience from start to finish also ensures that your customer will return to you, over and over again. Put a little thought into your suite. It's worth the effort.

    Branding. Do you have a logo and brand colors? If not - drop everything else and create one. And take the time to work with a branding company vs. hiring your art school employee to design a logo. Brand psychology is an extensive school of thought, and creating a strong, compelling brand starts with your logo and identity. If you do have a strong logo - consider putting it everywhere you can. It doesn't have to be a cost prohibitive process. Stickers and stamps are fun, simple, easy, and cheap! ways to get your brand in front of the public. The cost of a stamp, once created is basically nothing, and stickers are typically pennies on the dollar. Customer printing can be expensive, so get creative. And remember: every time you put your logo on your packaging, your customers become a walking advert for your brand.

    Bottom line: a little time, a little effort, and a little extra money can make a significant impact in customer impression and retention. So take a look at what you have and, if you need to, up your packaging game.

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  9. Marketing Ideas for February

    February sales

    February is the middle of the winter, which is a dreary time of years for anyone in the north (and some parts of the south!) but it doesn't have to be all doom and gloom. There are plenty of marketing opportunities to take advantage of this month, even though it's the shortest month of the year. Let's take a look at what you should be marketing:

    Valentine's Day: right up there with New Years Eve, Valentines Day is a huge night for sales, celebrations, and romance. Couples will want to celebrate, so break out the bubbly and craft a prix fixe menu they will love as much as their significant other. Send the information out early via social media and press release because people make plans well in advance. If you are more of a bar establishment, well, consider catering to the single crowd with an anti valentines party. Single people want to get a little tipsy and maybe hook up with that special someone. Host something fun and quirky - you'll attract a good crowd for sure.

    Super Bowl: sports bars, rejoice - the biggest sports day of the year is here! Finish off football season with a bang and offer beer specials, wing specials, and all the other comfort food that you know your regulars crave. Creating some ads to push out your establishment to a larger audience isn't a bad idea either - lots of non-sports people watch the Superbowl, and they may not be sure where to go. Capture that extra audience and pack the house! Oh, and be careful about using the word 'Super Bowl' - it's trademarked and while the odds are good you won't hear from the NFL - 'big game' is probably the best wording to use in any ads, especially paid ads - just to play it safe.

     

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  10. Email Marketing - Tips and Tricks

    email-marketing-strategy

    Succesful email marketing can connect you with customers in a way that directly impacts your bottom line. If a customer signs up for your email list - chances are that's a loyal customer. Repeat business is the best business, so keep your regulars happy and engaged with email marketing that gives them what they want - information about you! So set up a list, maintain it well, and send to it often. How often? It depends on your customers - but one per week to one per month is probably right. How do you know how often to send? Pay attention to your metrics:

    Email metrics 101. "Open rate" is a very important indicator of how successful your email marketing is (that's the percentage of people who open your marketing emails). 18% open rate is average - that may not seem like much, but think about how many marketing emails you receive on a daily basis and consider how busy your customers are, and that number doesn't seem so bad. If you're getting under 18% open rate, or if you have a high number of unsubscribes every time you send an email, consider tweaking your message, examining your list (is it old? did you buy emails? if either of these things is the case, you may need to clean it up). Perhaps you're sending too many emails per week - it's tempting to send out every single special you have, but if your customers aren't responding well, put out less and make it higher quality.

    Content Tips. Now that you've figured out your list and how much to send, what should you write about? Chances are, your customers want to keep updated with your specials, your deals, and your beer and wine dinners and celebrations. So make sure you include that information in your emails, but also, give them recipes and other informative information so it's not all sales related, all the time. Make an effort to switch things up, and maintain a consistent level of spelling, punctuation, graphics, and high quality photos. Working with an agency, in house marketing person, or another type of professional is highly recommended as it makes a big difference in how your emails appear. You hire a professional chef to run your kitchen - so make sure your outward facing marketing gets the same professionalism and attention to detail.

    Email Server. Get smart with managing your list. It's tempting to use a free server, but chances are, the templates will be clunky, the font choices uninspired, and you may not have all the smart capabilities to really service your customers. If you use Open Table, consider Fishbowl - it will integrate seamlessly with your reservations list. If not, there are plenty of 'smart' servers which will help you keep a managed list for a low monthly fee. In addition to better templates and integration, choose a server which will allow for smart data, such as remembering your clients birthdays and anniversaries. Sending out a special offer on those special days will encourage them to celebrate with you! And at the end of the day, email is just another tool in building a loyal customer base who comes back often.

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