Monthly Archives: July 2017

  1. How to Accommodate Paleo, Keto, and Other Diets in Restaurants

    How to Accommodate Paleo, Keto, and Other Diets in Restaurants

    Over the past three months, I have lost 36 lbs on the Keto diet.

    And I don't say this to brag, I say it to prove a point.  In the past, I've tried a number of diets and exercise regimens, but nothing seemed to bring me success until I tried Keto. This diet  excludes carbs, replacing them with more protein and fat.

    The one thing that made my weight loss efforts difficult was the fact that I could never find a restaurant that could accommodate my diet.

    Grabbing a bite for lunch became an exercise in Google-fu to see where I could dine. More often than not, it was just plain inconvenient to try to find a cost-effective meal that met my dietary requirements. 

    With approximately 66% of Americans becoming more health conscious and dieting in the U.S. each year, restaurants across the country could do with looking at ways to adapt their menu to fit some of the more popular diets.

    Or else, these restaurants risk losing those customers. 

    So what can you do to make your menu friendlier to popular, restrictive diets? Let's take a look at some of the more popular diets, and what your restaurant can do to accommodate them with your menu.

    The Paleo Diet

    The Paleo diet focuses on eating what our hunter-gatherer ancestors ate, consisting mainly of the following:

    paleo restaurants
    • Fruits
    • Vegetables
    • Seafood
    • Meat
    • Nuts  

    Excluded items and ingredients are ingredients like:

    • Soy
    • Dairy
    • Grains
    • Beans
    • Wheat
    • Processed foods

    As grains and wheat themselves are such a staple in many cuisines, it can be challenging for diners to avoid the standard fare and meet their requirements.

    Diners in quick-service burger restaurants can replace buns for lettuce, and many restaurants have gluten-free menus. However, to make a truly Paleo meal, restaurants can try removing all excluded groups by replace those sides with extra fruits or vegetables and replacing sauces with vinegrettes as the needs arise. 

    While it's not specifically a Paleo menu, Panera Bread developed a (not so) secret menu that is - at the very least - Paleo-inspired. Many of their regular menu choices have been replaced with items that are higher in protein to keep diners feeling fuller despite the lack of grains, wheat, and cheese. 

    The Ketogenic Diet

    The Keto diet, (short for Ketogenic diet) is known for extremely low carb, high fat, high protein content. Many of the wheat flour-based menu items are replaced with almond and coconut flour variants, and one can eat all the bacon they want (which was a selling point for me).

    For the most part, a low-carb version of many menu items will suffice to satisfy Keto dieters. However, there are a number of sauces used in regular fare that are high in sugar, which is one of Keto's main restrictions. 

    For burger and sandwich shops, it's not too difficult to convert menu items into Keto-friendly versions. Replacing the bun with lettuce, and replacing sauces and marinades with low sugar or sugar free versions will meet the requirements of many Keto dieters. Salad dressings like ranch, blue cheese, and Italian can be used to add flavor to dishes, and as I mentioned earlier, more bacon is always welcomed. Bacon wrapped asparagus, or smoked salmon wrapped cheese appetizers can replace your regular carb filled appetizers, and add some new flavor combinations to your menu.

    Check out to see how some well-known restaurants are going Keto without even knowing it! 

    Gluten Free

    This one is more about health than losing weight.  Celiac disease affecting 1 in 133 people in the U.S., and regions that consume more wheat tend to have higher occurrences of the disease.  

    If your menu doesn't have a gluten-free option, you're leaving money on the table. Many restaurants already have gluten-free menus, including many pizzerias like Otto in Maine and Massachusetts. They do this by removing wheat-based items or making gluten-free versions.

    Your restaurant can stand out with some pretty inventive alternatives.

    Much like the Keto diet, replacing wheat flour with almond and/or coconut flour will help satisfy the bread cravings of those who can't have gluten, but it doesn't have to stop there. Try portabella mushrooms or eggplant instead of buns for sandwiches and burgers, or cabbage or rice paper instead of flour tortillas. 

    Adapting to the Many Diets Your Guests Are Trying

    As more diners become health conscious, adapting to their needs (instead of hoping they come in on their cheat day) is the more sustainable route. The more you understand the popular dietary restrictions of your customers, the more you'll be able to accommodate them.

    And if your customers are anything like me, they'll thank you for it.

    This blog entry is compliments of Toast. As always, check out for all your restaurant needs.
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  2. 3 Sure Signs It's Time to Rebrand Your Restaurant

    3 Sure Signs It's Time to Rebrand Your Restaurant

    Are you ready for a change in your restaurant?

    Trick Question! Well, sort of.

    All restaurants go through change. It is the one constant in the universe. Throw out the suggestion of “rebranding" to a restaurant owner and you'll get a wide array of reactions from contemplative to shock.

    Why Rebrand Your Restaurant?

    Any homeowner can tell you, sometimes it just needs a fresh coat of paint and a few minor adjustments to make it fresh again.

    Other times, it’s better to tear it all down and start over. It's no different for restaurants. 

    The decision to rebrand is never an easy one to make because it’s usually an emotional one. You have given a lot to building your restaurant's brand, so the last thing you want to do think about change.

    But the reality is this: markets and technology are always advancing, developing, morphing, and changing. Those that fail to embrace change quickly find themselves playing catch-up in the market.

    Do you really want to be in the position of playing catch-up with the competition?

    Let’s look at the three most common red flags that it might be time consider a rebranding project for your restaurant. 

    1) Sales are Falling

    When sales are falling or are on a steady decline, there might be more to the cause then you realize. Recently, Subway - one of the largest restaurant businesses in the world - decided to rebrand themselves following years of falling sales.

    Not only is their brand image getting a physical design update - they're trying to re-position themselves as a fresh and healthy restaurant.

    Take a look at your market and see if you have some competition that snuck up behind you and started luring guests away. It happens even to the best brands, because restaurants want to copy your success model, or because you have become old news.

    People like new! If you fail to give people what they want, they tend to go elsewhere - particularly if your food and service is average. 

    So what can you do?

    Take a hard look at your restaurant and ask yourself questions that require little brutal honesty.

    1. Is my concept still relevant to current market trends and the area?
    2. Has our guest profile changed?
    3. Does our brand tell the wrong (or outdated) story?
    4. Why do our guests come here?
    5. Are we sharing the same congruent message across all of our marketing platforms?
    6. What is our purpose, and why?

    You'll have to do some soul-searching to get to the real answers. This is something you will want to take seriously. If you want better results for your restaurant it all comes down to asking yourself better quality questions. The truth is always in there.

    2) You’re on a Growth Plan

    You might be getting too big and expanding beyond your original brand identity. This can be a good thing! But it can be complicated if you never took the time to set up your brand with vision for the future.

    Let’s say you are a small little poke restaurant. You opened up your first location and business has just taken off. Soon enough, you've opened three more locations in your state. Then comes the offers to expand your brand into the next state.

    However, your website is - that could be a problem and an excellent reason to rebrand.

    It’s actually fairly common. You started with something small and it grew and grew. Now, you went from local market hotspot to up-and-coming restaurant empire. Make sure you set yourself up for long-term rebranding success.

    So what can you do?

    • Make sure you have a marketing plan in place before you launch your new improved website and social media platforms. Give your guests and your team plenty of time to adjust. 
    • Buy a domain name that will serve your brand now and in the future. is great...if you never want to expand to another city.
    • Find a domain name that you can use for all your social media platforms. Nothing confuses people more than trying to remember all the different names you use for Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat.

    Being able to open more locations is a testimonial your market that you deliver on your brand promise. Celebrate that. Share that. Brag about it.

    3) You Need to Update Your Look

    Markets change and the best brands keep their's current. Competition is entering your market and threatens to take guests away from you. You must become driven to stay top of mind in your market. A lot of famous brands have done some “fresh look” rebranding to their logos in order to appeal to the demographic they service.

    Kentucky Fried Chicken as seen a few revisions of their logo throughout the years. 

    Probably, one of the most iconic logos that is recognized around the world wouldn't exist if not for a restaurant rebrand.

    Even modern restaurants understand that they to need to refresh their look in order to attract the market they are focused on.

    It used to be quite expensive to hire a graphic designer to give your brand fresh new look. Not anymore.

    With websites like Fiverr, 99 Design, and Upwork (which actually underwent a rebranding of their own from Elance-oDesk), you can fairly economically-priced hire graphic designers to help you pull together an updated look for your brand.

    Sorry, Microsoft Publisher, you were good to us for a long time, however, I think we need to see other graphic designers. No hard feelings, we still love Microsoft Word.

    Whenever you do, make sure that it looks professional. In today’s online competitive marketplace, you need to make sure that your brand makes a statement.

    A bold statement.

    Attention spans are shrinking, you need to make sure your brand grabs a hold of the guest and keeps them tuned in through consistency in everything you do: Branding, marketing, food, and service.


    Now, be aware what is known as “brand boredom.” That’s when an owner decides to constantly change and update their logo and image because they have become bored with it. When your brand starts changing too quickly, it starts to confuse your guests.

    People don’t like to be confused.

    When you start doing that, they tend to drift away.

    If you feel as if the spark has gone out of the relationship you have with your brand, maybe it’s time to rebrand and fall back in love with your restaurant. To start doing that, download our restaurant branding guide below. 

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  3. 27 Creative & Cool Restaurant Names

    27 Creative & Cool Restaurant Names
    We’ve all had those a-ha! moments when something up there clicks, and we make the realization that restaurant or store name is actually quite impressively creative.

    My personal favorite is when I’m driving semi-aimlessly (but attentively, I assure you!) down the street and happen across a restaurant. I don’t think twice about it at first, but all of the sudden when I've paused at a red light four blocks away, the light bulb illuminates, and I realize just how creative that restaurant name was.

    That’s why I’m here to highlight some of the most unique and creative restaurants' names in the country. Shoutout to Delish and Eater for compiling some awesome lists already. The rest were combined with a dig through the Toast restaurant customer base as well as some of my own research. I’ve broken them out into a few of my favorite categories including puns, references, and miscellaneous aliases.

    The Puns It’s been said that puns are the lowest form of humor.

    But you can’t deny that they possess the rare ability to crack a smile even on the sternest of characters. Most restaurants with pun names tend to promote a more relaxed atmosphere. And there is no shortage of puns in restaurant names. Here are some of my favorites:

    1. Brew’d Awakening Coffeehaus - Lowell, MA. Not only is this a pun, but it is also a double-entre. Wins all around.

    2. Cheesy Does It - Saratoga, NY 3. The Dairy Godmother - Alexandria, VA 4. Kale Me Crazy - Atlanta, GA 5. Turnip the Beet - Dover, NH 6. Lettuce B. Frank - Rochester, NY 7. Party Fowl - Nashville, TN. This Nashville fried chicken joint “includes a number of hot chicken dishes with heat levels ranging from mild to “Poultrygeist,” as well as creative spins on the classics.” Check out their website for more menu items.

    8. Rolling Dough Cookie Company - Lynchburg, VA 9. Wok N' Roll - Cambridge, MA 10. Wild Thyme Cafe - Smithville, TN

    The (Sometimes Obscure) References When you love something, sometimes you’ve just got to name a restaurant after it.

    Or, at least, that was the case for some of these restaurants and managers. The combination of pun + movie or music or miscellaneous references is popular amongst restaurants. The below list are my favorite creative restaurant names based on pop culture or other obscure references.

    11. Life of Pie - Ontario, Canda. With a rotating menu depending on the day of the week, this Canada-based bakery & cafe certainly knows a thing or two about pie.

    12. 16 Handles - New York, NY and others 13. Wok This Way - San Antonio, TX 14. Tequila Mockingbird - New Canaan, CT 15. The Big Legrowlski - Portland, OR 16. Lord of the Fries - Melbourne, Australia 17. The Glass Onion - Falmouth, MA. When their 2-year old son suggested that the restaurant be named after one of his favorite Beatles’ songs, The Glass Onion, Josh and Tally Christian couldn’t really deny him.

    18. Pita Pan - New York, NY 19. Lee Harvey’s - Dallas, TX 20. Planet of the Crepes - Tucson, AZ. They stand as Tucson’s online mobile creperie and was voted as the Best Food Truck in 2014. 21. Thai Tanic - Washington, D.C. District of Columbia 22. Jekyll & Hyde Club - New York, NY. No big pun or mystery here, this Jekyll & Hyde themed restaurant is a “haunted restaurant and bar for eccentric explorers and mad scientists.”

    The Miscellaneous Aliases The sounds roll of your tongue. The catchiness and compelling nature of alliteration encourage restaurant goers to start talking about your restaurant. Highlighted below are some that got me talking:

    23. No Name Restaurant - Boston, MA 24. Biscuit Boy - Zion, IL. The simplicity alongside the alliterative nature of this Zion restaurant makes the name a winner. 25. Duck Duck Goat - Chicago, IL 26. He’s Not Here Bar - Chapel Hill, NC 27. The Three Needs Taproom & Brewery - Burlington, VT. This Burlington-based taproom doesn’t clearly outline what the 3 needs are. In order to find out, you need to go inside and ask, and even then an answer is not guaranteed.

    This is simply a few of the MANY cool and creative restaurant names that exists out there. Are there others that you’ve seen? Comment below and I’ll add them to the list next time around! This blog entry is compliments of Toast. As always, check out for all your restaurant needs.
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  4. Proper Juicing for a Healthy Life

    Proper Juicing for a Healthy Life
    This article is compliments of Lindy Schwarts - Juicing has been quite popular lately thanks to celebrities such as Salma Hayek, Gwyneth Paltrow, Anne Hathaway, and more especially Beyonce, because of this, many people have picked up juicing especially in hopes to lose weight. Juicing also helps a lot especially for those who don’t like eating fruits and vegetables that much and more importantly for those who want to lose a few pounds so they can hit the beach in their new swimsuit for summer or that beautiful dress for their best friend’s wedding. But does juicing really help you shed all those extra pounds? Is it as easy as they claim to be? Does it really deliver the results you want? Is it really even safe and healthy?

    What is Juicing? Just to clear some things up, juicing is a process in vitamins, minerals, and more importantly the natural juices of fruits and vegetables. But why go through all that trouble when you can simply purchase fruit and vegetable juices in your local supermarket?

    First off, most of the juices you see in your supermarket are not made up of real fruit juices but rather contain half or made from powdered juices with added water, now because of that, most of these juices contain so much sugar and other additives that can be bad for your health especially if you’ll be drinking it on a daily basis.

    As for juicing, this allows you to take in more fiber and vitamins and consume more fiber at one time, this can be really beneficial for those who don’t like vegetables very much. Juicing is also an easy way for your body to absorb the nutrients from fruits and vegetables much easier, this is important because many of us suffer from impaired digestion because we have an easier access to processed food nowadays thus limiting your body in absorbing the nutrients it needs. Juicing also allows picky eaters to try out different kinds of fruits and vegetables or for those who are looking for ways to consume more fruits and vegetables rather than just making a salad everyday.

    Juicing for a Healthier Lifestyle

    One of the most important benefits of juicing is that it offers your body a complete cleanse which, if done correctly, can lead to weight loss. Green juices especially contain high levels of chlorophyll which can help your body get rid of toxins, heavy metals, and even free radicals. This also increases your blood’s capacity to carry more oxygen by stimulating the production of red blood cells. But before you head on to your local supermarket and grab a handful of fruits and vegetables. For this article, we will be discussing on how you can incorporate into your lifestyle but before that, let’s start off with some tips and tricks on how to do the juice cleanse properly.

    Start off by thoroughly washing the fruits and vegetables you’ve bought from the supermarket before cutting, slicing, peeling them. Do not use soap, bleach, or use any commercial cleaning products when washing your fruits and vegetables. Now when you juice or blend fruits and vegetables, they need to be consumed immediately as they have a relatively short shelf life with most of them lasting up to 2 days as long as it’s stored properly.

    While juicing can promote weight loss, it shouldn’t be your means to drop a couple of pounds as consuming just fruits and vegetables in juice form is not considered a balanced diet.

    You may need to consult with your doctor before starting your own juice cleanse as a sudden change in your eating habits can surprise your body.

    While juicing does have its benefits, too much juicing can be just as bad for you, sudden weight loss can trigger a slew of health problems. Try to complement juices with your meals especially during breakfast as juicing alone cannot replace protein and other important components your body needs.

    Juicing isn’t simply limited to leafy green vegetables, go ahead and experiment with many different fruits and vegetables, you’ll be surprised to find a lot of fun and delicious recipes online that you can try out.

    Juicing is like receiving a fresh boost of vitamins and nutrients directly into your body without stimulants like caffeine, and since it’s in an easily digestible form, you can get a natural energy boost within a matter of minutes. Juicing also allows you to consume a healthy amount of vegetables in an efficient manner, this also allows you to juice vegetables that you may not like in their original form. Additionally, juicing doesn’t only promote weight loss but also helps boost your immune system, increase your energy without suffering the sugar crash by the middle of the day, and even help your brain stay healthy by lessening your risk of developing Alzheimer's in their old age.

    Juicing is intended for adults and although some companies claim they make child-friendly juices and blends, one shouldn’t buy these juices to promote weight loss. If you’d like your children to lose some weight, it’s better that you consult with your doctor to help your child lose weight the proper and healthy way. Although juicing is okay for children, they are not the perfect candidates for juicing, however, you can still introduce them to juicing especially if they are picky eaters. As mentioned before, juicing should be done to complement your lifestyle rather than become the center of your lifestyle, you can make juicing as the replacement for your coffee habit which will come in handy during the afternoon where you’ll be expecting that sugar crash. Another great thing about juicing is that you get to use every part of the fruit or vegetable thus also reducing produce waste. However, for you to have a successful juice cleanse, we recommend that you don’t add additional ingredients such as dairy and sugar. Also, while fruit juices are much more tastier compared to their vegetable counterparts they don’t include as much fructose that can lead to cravings and extra weight especially if you will be drinking this everyday. As always, check out for all your restaurant needs.
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  5. Sangria for Every Season

    Homemade Delicious Red Sangria

    We have all been there, at a point in our lives where we want sweet fruity drinks, cocktails that we can sit around with a group of friends and enjoy the summers afternoon sun. Our go to picks may have been sweet wines such as Moscato, Lambrusco or the ever favorite Sangria. Today these libations have become increasingly popular again with Millenials and Gen Z consumer. Although considered be dessert wines, many of these consumers have been found to drink it all day making it an integral part of many recent restaurants’ wine lists. The general public has typically viewed sangria as a wine based cocktail for the warm summer months but, recently it has become an all-weather/ every season cocktail, with fruit, juice and spices that when done correctly can be adapted to any season and most importably any demographic basis. Drinking of course, in any sense is commonly seen as a communal experience which makes sangria an enjoyable treat in a group but, also creates a sense of community and makes the establishment offering the cocktail be seen in a very positive light and a place people truly want to be at! Considering we are about to go into the fall season, which is filled with delicious root vegetables and hot spiced wines, it is evident that Sangria is the mulled wine of summer and the young drinking demographic can’t get enough of it! Perhaps it is evident to some but, to those of you who are not promoting sangria on your wine list, you are missing a great profit opportunity. After all, when this younger generation goes out with friends, to enjoy great food and drinks they are likely to order pitches of Sangria because, they feel as though they are being offered a great deal. For the restaurant owners and manager, this “deal” helps your beverage cost and drive your bottom line. This is associated to the low cost associated with the production of Sangria and the high demand for the drink, it really can become a viable source of income. It is also a wonderful idea to make the sangria you serve to be individualized and customizable. We know it is always helpful to have delicious recipes to offer your clients so we want to supply you with a few:

    Traditional Red Sangria


    • 1/2 apple, cored, skin on, chopped into small pieces
    • 1/2 orange, rind on, sliced into small pieces, large seeds removed (plus more for garnish)
    • 3-4 Tbsp (41-55 g) organic brown sugar (or 3 Tbsp (37.5 g) organic cane sugar)
    • 3/4 cup (180 ml) orange juice, plus more to taste
    • 1/3 cup (80 ml) brandy, plus more to taste
    • 1 750 ml bottle dry Spanish red wine*
    • Ice to chill (~1 cup)


    Add apples, oranges and sugar to a large pitcher and muddle with a muddler or wooden spoon for 45 seconds.
    Add orange juice and brandy and muddle again to combine for 30 seconds. Add red wine and stir to incorporate, then taste and adjust flavor as needed. I added a bit more brandy, orange juice and brown sugar. Stir to combine.
    Add ice and stir once more to chill. Serve as is, or with a bit more ice. Garnish with orange segments (optional).
    Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator for up to 48 hours, though best when fresh.

    Traditional White Sangria


    • 1/2 cup superfine sugar
    • 1/2 cup cognac
    • 1 mango, peeled, pitted and thinly sliced
    • 1 peach or nectarine, pitted and thinly sliced
    • 1 red apple, cored and thinly sliced
    • 1 to 2 plums, pitted and thinly sliced
    • 2 bottles (750 ml) dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio,chilled
    • Ice cubes, for serving


    In a large pitcher, stir sugar and cognac until well combined. Stir in fruit slices until fully coated; let stand, refrigerated, overnight.
    Add wine to pitcher and stir until well combined. Serve sangria over ice.

    Champagne Sangria


    • 3oz triple sec
    • 3oz brandy
    • 2oz rum
    • 2oz vodka
    • 1 cup strawberries, blended
    • Chopped up fruit as desired (apple, mango, tangerine, pear, peach)
    • 1 (750ml) bottle sparkling wine


    Prepare a large bowl or pitcher. Add in the Triple Sec, brandy, rum, vodka, strawberries, and fruit. Mix together well. Allow to sit for at least a few hours, and preferably overnight, so the liquids soak up the flavors of the fruits you have chosen.

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  6. Craft Beer Continues to Boom

    Craft Beer Continues to Boom

    The last time that we sent into a bar, we were greeted with a list of beers that went on for pages and pages. This bar was an actual beer bar, but set foot into most bars and you will see that there are at least one or two selections which don’t fit the status quo.

    If you’re looking for some draft to fill your kegerator or you’re looking for bottles to fill your undercounter beer cooler, there are many distributors who are willing to meet your needs. It doesn’t matter if you’re looking for something hoptacular or something low key.

    The best part of this story is that there are more brewers making beer for you. There were 12.2 million barrels sold by craft brewers. It’s growing and growing, to the point where every bar is going to have an even wider selection.

    The US added 699 more breweries since last year, and there are 1755 more in the making. Even if you don’t like beer, you might find something which really floats your boat. Maybe more restaurants will bring beer specialists on staff.

    Think your cooler can take the surge of new beer that is hitting the market and already here? We’ll find out soon.

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  7. 3 Reasons Why You Must Update Your Restaurant Menu

    3 Reasons Why You Must Update Your Restaurant Menu
    They say that those who fail to learn from the past are doomed to repeat it.

    Well, those that fail to adapt to the market are in the same boat - especially when it comes to menus. There is one constant in the universe and that is change. It’s evolution. Your restaurant can either adapt or become extinct.

    Your restaurant menu is not immune to this natural law. You might have an amazing menu in your restaurant that has served your business well. Guests enjoy the selections and you are making money.

    But maybe you could do better. Could you maybe adjust a little? Could you maybe make even more profit?

    Should You Update Your Restaurant Menu? Come on - you know you should update a few items on your menu. So why don't you?

    Because when something is a should, it only happens when all the elements come together: time, resources, and motivation. Waiting for those three to fall in your lap to be inspired to take action is not the kind of odds you would bet on for long term success. You need to change that should into a must! Let’s explore 3 compelling reasons why you must update your menu now.

    1. Your Guests' Tastes Are Changing The palate of your guests is ever-changing. Now, you can be stubborn. You can dig in and make a statement that you don't “follow trends.” That’s cool and noble. However, your guests will get their cravings fulfilled by another restaurant.

    If nothing else, you should do some research and see what is hot and in demand out there. Follow industry thought leaders like those found on Toast’s annual list of The 35 Best Chefs & Restaurant Experts to Follow. These people spend their days exploring the world of restaurants and food. Why not make it easy on yourself and just tag along?

    The biggest advantage that an independent restaurant has is its ability to make changes quickly. The big chain restaurants might like a trendy new flavor (think Sriracha), and within a year it’s mainstream.

    Once a trend has hit your really big chains, it’s usually pretty played out (think Sriracha Shrimp at Applebee’s). Now, there might be some flavor profiles like Sriracha that your guests crave, you’ll just need to think a little outside the box. While Sriracha is now mainstream, similar spices like Harissa are a little more on the side and still really pack a dynamic flavor punch for those seeking a little heat in their food (think Lamb Meatballs with Harissa-Jelly Glaze). There are evolutionary restaurants and revolutionary ones. The difference is the speed at which they adapt. Evolutionary restaurants adapt quickly and they can stay a few steps ahead of the competition. Revolutionary restaurants are the ones that set the trends and get copied by evolutionary restaurants.

    Which would you rather be?

    2. Food Pricing is Changing We know that food prices go up and most restaurants adjust for that by raising prices. What do you do when the economy has a deflation? Yikes!

    The problem is when you notice you are getting a much lower price on something in your restaurant and you don’t “readjust” and pass the market correction along to the guest. Don’t think they don’t notice either. They see the price of items at their local grocery store and most are good at math.

    The challenge for restaurants today is that Millennials see those prices at the store and think that they could make dinner at home cheaper. If you know you are getting a better price on something why not pass that along to your guests and be open about it?

    On the other end, there are items that have become so high priced due to demand (think chicken wings) that small restaurants find it very hard to menu those items and make a profit. There are some that even take a loss to be able to offer a high demand item.

    First, remember that your menu is a balance of profitable and popular menu items (check out Toast’s Menu Engineering Worksheet). However, there comes a time when the market just makes it a bad move to keep up with the restaurant down the street that specializes in chicken wings and can buy them at a much lower price than you.

    Sometimes you have to remember those famous lyrics from the song The Gambler by Kenny Rogers, “You’ve got to know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em, know when to walk away, and know when to run.” There are probably a few items on your menu that you need to run away from. While chicken wings are popular, there are restaurants that have been exploring making crispy chicken skins (like Chicago Chef Matthias Merges who is a Charlie Trotter Alumni). Remember - you can be evolutionary or revolutionary.

    Updating your menu also means looking at your beverage menu as well. You need to dig deep and conduct a real analysis to see where you’re priced in your market.

    Sad to say that many beverage menus do not get the respect that they should have and that has to stop if you truly want to maximize your menu’s profit potential. Is everything priced right? Anything too high? Anything too low? When looking at your menu prices compared to your competition you want to approach it like you are a member of the CSI Forensic Team! Dig deep to get to the truth.

    3. Labor is Changing One of the many challenges restaurants faces this year is the labor market. In fact, according to Toast's 2017 Restaurant Success Report, staffing remains the top challenge to restaurants.

    With more and more restaurants opening, the labor pool is not keeping pace to fulfill demand. Add on top of that ever increasing demand for higher wages and you have the perfect storm rolling into our industry. Many restaurants will need to rethink their menus and operations if they want to stay in the game.

    Mega-restaurants (200+ seats) and mega-menus (4+ pages) are becoming less common and more of an anomaly. If your labor percent is creeping up (especially in the kitchen) this could be the most compelling reason you need to update your menu now.

    Here's what you can do: 1. Look at the number of menu items that come off each station in your kitchen. Is anyone station getting really hammered? Having too many items come off one station can lead to quality and time issues with the food.

    2. Dump the menu dogs. If you have done a menu engineering exercise and understand where each menu item falls in stratification (star, plowhorse, puzzle, or dog), then take the dogs off and do not replace them.

    Don't feel compelled to keep your menu the same size. Dogs on your menu are in that category because they are not popular and they do not contribute to profitability. Keeping a menu item around that doesn't sell or really do anything is like paying a person to stand in the corner and do nothing…not a smart business move.

    3. Hire better talent. Now, this might sound counterintuitive, but paying more for someone with better skills actually, reduces labor costs in the long game.

    A line cook who is worth $17 an hour is far most cost effective than two checked out college kids who make $11 per hour because you need two of them to be able to produce the same work load as the aforementioned all-star.

    4. Examine each item in your menu for cross utilization. Every item on your menu needs to be used in as many menu items as possible. Sure you love Foie Gras, however, if it is only used on the menu as an appetizer - and given the fact that it's a dog on the menu engineering spreadsheet - it’s time to take it off the regular menu. You can still bring it in for a limited time or for a special prix fixe menu, where you can balance the item cost out with the price of the special menu.

    5. Re-evaluate your equipment. This might be a great option if your kitchen is especially in need of some new tools.

    There have been come amazing advances in cooking technology that can increase the efficiency of your kitchen line. At the 2017 National Restaurant Association Show, many of the leading manufacturers like Altosham, Turbochef, Rational, and Winston were showcasing new equipment that can cook more efficiently.

    A chef at a restaurant in Durango, Colorado recently replaced a piece of outdated equipment on his line with a TurboChef oven and found that he only needed one cook to work that station instead of two. He simultaneously increased the amount of items that station could produce, reduced ticket times, and reduced labor!

    That's a major win for a small restaurant with less than 60 seats where ticket times can help or hurt when you need to turn tables. He has added another Turbochef oven to his line and has seen an increase in sales of those items that come off that station.

    Updating Your Restaurant Menu Times are changing in the restaurant industry. Updating your menu is the perfect place to start. The biggest obstacle most will have to overcome is them. The menu can become very personal to chefs and restaurant owners. Taking your restaurant and your menu to the next level does require a transcendence of the self (that means your ego).

    Your menu is a marketing and profitability tool. Think about it like this: There is the menu you want, there is the menu your guests want, and somewhere in between is the menu you must have to stay in the game. This blog entry is compliments of Toast. As always, check out for all your restaurant needs.
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  8. How to Benefit From the Local Food Restaurants Movement

    How to Benefit From the Local Food Restaurants Movement
    When is the last time you visited a restaurant and were greeted by a chalkboard naming the farms and producers behind the ingredients featured on the menu?

    Chances are it wasn’t long ago. Locally sourced food can be found everywhere these days, from high-end fine-dining establishments like No. 9 Park in Boston to national quick-serve chains like Sweetgreen.

    And according to Statista, approximately two-thirds of diners prefer locally-sourced meat, fruit, and vegetables.

    The reasons are simple - customers are increasingly aware of local food and requesting it, and restaurateurs are recognizing the many benefits a local food program can deliver. Here, we explore some of those benefits and explain why your menu need not be compromised exclusively of local offerings to realize them.

    First, What Does "Local Food" Mean for Restaurants? While there is no hard and fast definition of local food, food sourced from within a 100 mile radius became a commonly accepted benchmark after authors Alisa Smith and J.B. Mackinnon published “The 100 Mile Diet: A Year of Local Eating” in 2007.

    Otherwise, food can be considered local when it is produced in your state or region by a small-scale production.

    The History of Local Food Restaurants Alice Waters is often credited with founding the local food, or "farm-to-table," movement as we know it today with her Bay Area restaurant, Chez Panisse. Opened in the early 1970s, Chez Panisse pioneered the idea of letting locally grown, seasonal products steer the menu as opposed to the other way around.

    Given the ubiquity of the local food movement today, it’s hard to believe this practice was considered avant garde at the time. In citing menu trends to watch in 2017, the National Restaurant Association noted the pervasiveness of the movement:

    “While farm-to-table concepts and locally sourced food still rank as top trends, they are moving toward perennial favorite territory, indicating that they may be on their way to becoming the new normal.” Those chalkboards don’t lie.

    How Can Restaurants Benefit From the Local Food Movement? Whether farm-to-table is a core part of your restaurant’s mission or you’re just beginning to dabble, it’s worth understanding the value proposition of local food. Sure it’s about taste, quality, and the feel-good factor of supporting local businesses but the advantages don’t stop there.

    1) You've Got Something to Talk About Restaurant marketing is hard. Coming up with fresh content to share can be a daily struggle. This is where seasonal menu changes are your friend. The arrival of new crops and farmer collaborations provide excellent fodder for social media posts and newsletters.

    In this Facebook post, 12 Farms Restaurant in Hightstown, New Jersey announces a new menu item with early season swiss chard and gives a shout out to the producer, North Slope Farm. By celebrating and tagging the producer, they’re not only giving their customers insight into where their food comes from, they’re upping the chance this post will be shared and seen by more people.

    2) Fresh is Best, Green is Good The belief that locally sourced food tastes better and more fresh than food shipped hundreds of miles is a core tenet of the farm-to-table movement. Frank Pace, Owner of The Great Northern in Burlington, VT, says that's in part due to the reliability of the farmers and their products.

    He says:

    “I trust the products these farmers are producing and know it’s the best available product we have for our restaurant. We support local agriculture because it’s important to know where your food comes from and it just tastes better!” Perhaps equally important to diners is the understanding that local food has a smaller carbon footprint than foods shipped great distances. While the concept of food miles is a contentious one, environmental sustainability resonates with diners nonetheless; it came in at #4 trend on the National Restaurant Association’s survey of chefs predicting the hottest menu trends for 2017.

    One Boston restaurant embracing this approach is Mei Mei - named a Certified Sustainable Business Leader by the Sustainable Business Network of Massachusetts. They're so proud of their local sourcing and sustainability (as they should be) that they even embedded this map on their website of all their suppliers!

    3) Meet the Face Behind the Food Local food and farmer partnerships lend themselves well to events.

    Consider meet-the-farmer/ brewer/winemaker/cheesemaker dinners. They allow restaurants to host ticketed events that deliver an experience above and beyond a regular dinner out and tap a new audience when producers cross-promote on their channels.

    Bear in Boots Gastropub in Falmouth, Massachusetts hosts a regular series of meet-the-farmer dinners where they often have multiple farmers in attendance. As they advertise on their site, “This unique event gives you a chance to taste the product from two local farms, meet the farmers growing the produce and learn about how they make farming work here on Cape Cod.”

    4) Jump on an Evolving Trend

    As the farm-to-table movement continues a march towards the mainstream, we will likely begin to see it shaping the restaurant landscape more and more.

    local food restaurantsThe Mug, a two-location drive-in concept in Indiana, bills itself as ‘farm to curb’ and provides a unique example of an instance where the farm came first.

    “In our farm business, Tyner Pond Farm, essentially we are online sellers of meat. We wind up with a lot of surplus of ground products so it seemed natural we should expand by getting into the restaurant business,” says owner Chris Baggott. They pair their pasture and grass-fed meat with produce, dairy products, root beer and more all sourced from Central Indiana. We’d consider The Mug a telltale sign of where the local food movement is headed next - to independent, fast casual operations answering consumer demand for food that’s fresh, fast and has a story to tell. This blog entry is compliments of Toast. As always, check out for all your restaurant needs.
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