Monthly Archives: November 2017

  1. 4 Ways to Increase Your Restaurant Lunch Sales

    restaurant lunch sales

    Increasing lunch sales is key to greater profitability in restaurants.

    In full service restaurants, most of the costs associated with preparing for the dinner rush happen during the daytime.

    Think about it: you are paying rent and utilities whether you are generating sales or not. You front labor costs to get all the prep done to have a successful dinner shift. If you could generate enough sales to at least cover the daytime expenses, the next shift becomes a pure profit center.

    Basically, the busier you make your lunch business, the sooner you start making money.

    However, this is easier said than done for lunch – the industry has seen shaky lunch sales in the past decade, due in part tohigher lunch prices set to meet higher restaurant food costs and a rising minimum wage. 

    So, what can you do to drive lunch business your way? Here’s a four-pronged approach to increasing your restaurant lunch sales.

    Part 1: Focus on the Customers

    You must understand who your lunchtime customers are.

    Are they business people who only have an hour for lunch, meaning you must get them in and out of your restaurant within 30-45 minutes? Are they housewives or stay-at-home parents who are looking for a longer, more social dining experience? Are they millennials who are on a limited dollars and looking for speed in a social environment? 

    This may be the most important piece to the puzzle of increasing your lunchtime sales, because restaurant marketing is meaningless if you don't know who you are marketing to.

    Part 2: Perfect the Menu

    There are four things to consider when looking to create or change your lunch menu:

    1. Speed.
    2. Price.
    3. Dietary restrictions.
    4. Portions.

    1) Speed 

    Speed is essential. Most companies give their employees only an hour for lunch, which means you have to act fast. Those in the millennial generation are also looking for speed, which is why they are flocking to fast casual restaurant concepts.

    If your restaurant generally has ticket times longer than ten minutes, you may want to consider a special lunch menu that is built on speed.

    2) Pricing

    Pricing is important. While minimum wages are going up all over the United States, costs are rising with them. This means potential guests are brown-bagging it more and more.

    The addition of value-driven lunch items has become increasingly important. Make sure your lunch offers and prices are enticing enough to attract the money-conscious diner but also high enough to turn a profit.

    3) Diets & Allergies

    Dietary restrictions are extremely prevalent among today’s diners. Remember some years ago when many restaurants said "this gluten-free thing" is just a fad and will go away like the rest of them? Well, I’ve got news for you. It has turned out to be more than a fad.

    In fact, the list of dietary restrictions is growing larger. Today’s diners are looking for gluten-free, nut-free, low-carb, no-carb, paleo, keto, and vegetarian menu items because of health concerns.

    If you plan on adding items or labeling items to take care of these customers, make sure you understand the difference between a dietary need and an allergy (yes – there is a big difference). One could make a customer sick, while the other could kill them. Resources, such as AllerTrain, help with staff training around dietary restrictions and allergies. 

    4) Portion Size 

    Smaller portions are key to increased sales. Not only are people aggressively counting calories, studies are showing that millennials are changing their eating patterns from three meals a day to five or six small meals a day. This movement screams for smaller portions.

    The crazy thing is that, in my experience, many customers who are looking for smaller portions and can't find them at your restaurant will never tell you – they'll just stop showing up.

    Part 3: Master the Service

    As restaurant operators, if we want to make price less important and set ourselves apart from the increasing competition, we must deliver “WOW" customer service.

    What is "WOW?"

    In his book Secret Service, Customer service guru John Dejulius says that “with WOW customer service, you make price irrelevant.”

    Let’s remember one very important fact: as a restaurant, you are not competing as a food business. If you were, you would be competing with a gas station. They sell food, right?

    Restaurants are in the hospitality business. You create memories, and great service is critical to building sales. Period.

    It doesn't matter how good your food is. If your service is lacking, your customers will find somewhere else to spend their dining dollars. Make training your team a top priority.

    Part 4: Obsess Over Accessibility 

    At lunchtime, accessibility is key given the time crunch. Again – not everyone has over an hour to wine and dine, which is why restaurants like Buffalo Wild Wings have made lunch a more efficient process for diners with their 15-minute guarantee. 

    Here are two of the most effective ways your marketing efforts can pay off in driving lunchtime business by making your restaurant more accessible.  

    Online Ordering

    Online ordering has become a norm to many of our current and potential customers because of the convenience and speed factors. In fact, 81% of restaurant-goers have used a restaurant's website to order food online.

    Online ordering allows the person who only has a limited time to eat lunch to speed up the whole dining process. Considering that cell phones have overtaken computers for web browsing, it also translates to a change in customers dining behaviors. Customers are ordering online for pickup or delivery at a rapid pace.

    Delivery

    While some people get an hour for lunch, some get even less than that or don't want to leave their desks. Delivery is a great way of filling seats in your restaurant that don’t exist!

    There are a few very important things to think about before you start promoting delivery in your restaurant. Two of them are the type of food you offer and the packaging of your takeout containers. 

    If your food shows up at a person’s home or office and it has degraded greatly, they will get the impression your restaurant isn't worth a second visit. For example, you place a beautiful burger with hand cut fries in a styrofoam container. By the time it is delivered, the burger bun and fries are soggy because the heat created a rain forest in the closed container.

    Delivery is a key component to accessibility during lunch, but you need to be prepared with the right tools to ensure a positive guest experience outside of your walls. 

    Not at liberty to hire a full-time delivery driver? Look into partnering with a delivery service like FavorUberEats, or Peach.

    Selling More at Lunchtime 

    If you are looking to increase your lunchtime sales, follow this four-step plan. From there, the marketing will be effortless, and you'll benefit from outstanding word of mouth marketing from happy guests. 

    But do understand, while the plan looks easy, it will take work and a commitment of time and financial resources from you and your management team.

    • Start by having a meeting with your team to discuss each point discussed in this article.
    • Create an action plan for each task and person involved.
    • Make sure your plan is put into action and continue to review your plan. 

    This blog is courtesy of Toast.


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  2. Recipe: Golden Soup

    Golden Soup is hee-yahhh.

    What exactly is golden soup, you ask? Friends, it’s a lifestyle. It’s a like-to-eat-healthy-food, but-like-to-eat-cozy-food-more, and-have-eaten-out-a-lot-lately-so-need-intervention-quickly kind of lifestyle. You know the kind. You know if Golden Soup is right for you. If it fits, you just know.

    This soup has:

    • turmeric (hence the big, beautiful golden-ness)
    • cauliflower
    • cashews
    • garlic / onions
    • olive oil
    • salt
    • squeeze of lemon juice – just trust
    • crispy chickpeas and parsley and more olive oil on top

    and therefore it also has the power to:

    • reduce inflammation
    • boost antioxidants
    • make skin happy
    • make tummy happy
    • generally be very healing.

    Bonus for the lifestyle part: it takes about 25 minutes to make, and it tastes like the most wonderful creamy goodness of winter.

    If it feels like I’m selling you something, it’s because I am. I AM SELLING YOU GOLDEN SOUP.

    This recipe is courtesy of Pinch & Yum.

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  3. A Recap: All the Ways Restaurant Technology Has Evolved in 2017

    Read the Restaurant Technology in 2017 Industry Report

    On October 30, the third annual report unveiled a slew of restaurant technology-centric data points and insights.

    What we’re particularly excited about this year is that the report will covered both restaurant and diner perspectives, not just one or the other, as in past years. 

    What this means is you can compare your restaurant's business decisions to your competitors' actions and your guest preferences. All of this information is available for free in the 2017 Toast Restaurant Technology Report.

    To help hold you over until the launch, here’s a look back at some of the top findings from past reports and what you can expect from this year's release.

    Previously, in the Toast Restaurant Tech Report...

    What's Up With Restaurants? (2015)

    It's been two years since we formally checked in with restaurants about their technology. We sought to learn:

    1. What kind of technology restaurants use
    2. What kind of technology restaurants will invest in
    3. How often restaurants examined sales and important data

    In our 2015 Restaurant Technology Report, we discovered the following statistics:

    Upgrading Restaurant Technology

    restaurant technology trends

    The report, launched in October of 2015, revealed that 73 percent of restaurants planned to upgrade their technology within one year of taking the survey. This includes management software and point of sale (POS) systems. 52 percent of restaurateurs said "advanced functionality" and "ease of use" were their top reasons for replacing their existing method or software

    Back in 2015, the top features restaurateurs looked for in a POS upgrade were: inventory management (20 percent), online ordering (13 percent) and PCI compliance (9 percent).

    Sales and Reporting

    Two years ago, it was found that just 46 percent of restaurateurs looked at their business reports and sales metrics every day, meaning less than a half of restaurateurs are actively looking at their important numbers on a daily basis. 

    What Do Customers Want? (2016)

    Last year, we flipped the script and asked restaurant-goers how technology shaped their dining experience for the 2016 Restaurant Technology Report

    In the age of readily-available, user-friendly technology, diners' opinions on restaurant technology were largely positive. 

    Technology for Diners

    Online ordering, mobile tablets, credit cards, loyalty software...I could go on and on. Sometimes it seems like there's too much technology. 

    However, your guests would likely disagree with you. In 2016, four out of five diners (79 percent) diners agreed that restaurant technology improves their guest experience.   

    Online and Mobile Ordering

    opinions on restaurant technology

    Diners also appreciate the benefits and efficiency of mobile devices in the restaurant experience. 

    Last year, it was found that 57 percent of diners ordered from a restaurant's website online daily, weekly, or monthly, while 68 percent agreed that server handheld tablets improve their guest experience.

    Furthermore, diners appreciated ordering from web-based devices and when their servers use them, but they weren't too enthusiastic about mobile pay. More than half never paid with mobile payments such as Apple Pay, Level Up, or Samsung Pay. 

    Have any of these numbers shifted? You'll have to read this year's Tech Report to see for yourself.

    Exclusive Findings: Restaurant Technology in 2017

    Looking for newer information? You can read some of the highlights below or download the full report here

    Here's the key takeaway: restaurant technology not only improves the restaurant experience, but it also shows trends around the industry embracing restaurant technology more than ever.

    Rising in Popularity: Server Handheld Tablets

    This recent article in Eater shares how tools like tabletop tablets help improve the customer experience so much that servers see increased tips with tablets:

    In fact, tips have stayed steady or even increased, thanks to the ease of tipping via tablet: Diners can typically tap just one button to automatically apply a tip of the industry standard 20 percent, which is easier than manually entering a smaller tip. Tips are likely also higher thanks to diners’ increased satisfaction with service — e.g., their ability to pay their check rather than having to wait around for the tab.”

    Dropping in Popularity: Cash Payments 

    tech trends in restaurants

    We’re also seeing growing trends in cash versus credit preferences.

    Despite quite a few recent, very public hacks, cash isn’t still necessarily king anymore. Don’t agree? This helpful article from The Motley Fool lays out an argument for why consumers do (or should) use credit over cash, hinting at an emergence of cashless restaurants.

    In stark contrast to previous years, a large number of diners use mobile pay now more than ever.

    It makes sense, too. While mobile pay is steadily increasing in popularity in the U.S., it is virtually the only way to pay in other parts of the world. Evelyn Cheng, reporter for CNBC, recently said, “mobile pay is growing so rapidly in mainland China that as a foreigner, I sometimes found it difficult to complete basic transactions without it.”

    Also on the rise? Online reservations, online ordering, and the demand for guest wi-fi.


    This article is compliments of Toast.

    As always, check out Restaurantsupply.com for all your restaurant needs.

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  4. DIY Cozy Homemade Peppermint Mocha

    A delicious take on the most popular latte of December, the peppermint mocha. 

    Homemade mint syrup and mocha make this recipe extra fresh. Creamy, minty, rich in dark chocolate…Cozy up, grab a blanket and a book, and get enjoy the start of the holiday season. 

    INGREDIENTS:

    for the mint syrup

    • 1 1/2 cups water
    • 1 1/2 cups sugar
    • 1 bunch fresh mint leaves OR 1 teaspoon peppermint extract (or a combination of both)

    for the mocha

    • 3/4 cup milk
    • 1 ounce unsweetened chocolate
    • 1 Nespresso Altissio espresso capsule
    • whipped cream
    • crushed candy canes

    INSTRUCTIONS:

    1. Bring the water to a low boil. Add the sugar and stir until dissolved. Add the mint or peppermint extract and steep for 10-15 minutes (heat off or on low) until the syrup has good flavor to it. Remove the mint leaves and store in the refrigerator for future peppermint mochas. 
    2. Heat the milk and unsweetened chocolate together until melted (could be in the microwave or on the stovetop).
    3. Prepare one espresso capsule and add the milk mixture and 2-3 tablespoons mint syrup. Top with whipped cream and candy cane pieces.


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  5. Marketing to Millennials Made Simple: The Restaurant Edition

    With over 75 million millennials in the United States, marketing to millennials is a smart move for any bar or restaurant. 

    What are millennilas? The common consensus is that the millennial generation consists of people born between 1982 and 2004. This puts the very youngest of millennials at the age of 18 and the older ones in their late thirties. 

    What does this mean for your restaurant? It means that if you're marketing to millennials, you're not marketing to kids anymore. You're marketing to adults with jobs and disposable incomes. And when 54% of millennials go out to eat at least three times a week, it's time to get this marketing right. 

    Read on for actionable tips to start making your restaurant more appealing to millennials (and their dollars). For more tips, sign up for our online panel for Florida restaurants featuring Donald Burns, Suviche, Vicky Bakery, Roasters N' Toasters, and more.

    Step 1: Make Your Restaurant Millennial-Friendly

    Before you get to the actual marketing, you have to make sure your restaurant lives up to the promises of its messaging.

    If your ads to millennials promote a fun, relaxed restaurant with a modern atmosphere, that's what guests will expect – so keep the following in mind when running your restaurant. 

    Millennials Like Technology

    Shocker – millennials like technology!

    Data collected from the 2017 Restaurant Technology Report found that 77% of millennials say restaurant technology improves their dining experience. This generation places a particular emphasis on accessible, innovative tech that streamlines the dining experience. 

    Some stats from the data include the following:

    • Millennials are the most common users of ordering ahead through restaurant apps and online ordering aggregate siteslike Grubhub. 
    • 49% of millennials prefer digital receipts (text or email) to paper ones, while just 33% of those outside the millennial generation opt for digital receipts.
    • A majority of millennials appreciate innovative restaurant technology like kiosks (54% approval) and server handheld tablets (63% approval).
    • 60% of millennials will sometimes or always use mobile pay when available in a restaurant.
    • Millennials are most likely to pay with a credit or debit card. 69% pay with card for low-priced items and 91% do the same for higher-priced items. 

    If millennials are not able to order online, show up to find a cash-only establishment, or have to wait around for their check or receipt, they won't feel like the dining experience is catered to them at all. 

    And we all know how special millennials like to feel.

    Millennials Are Environmentally- and Health-Conscious

    The National Restaurant Association found that millennials are searching far and wide for restaurants that serve local, fresh, and healthy food. 

    74% of millennials are more likely to dine at a restaurant with healthy menu options, while 70% value local food sourcing when choosing a restaurant.

    restaurant marketing to millennials

    Want more millennials in your restaurant? It might be time to cut out the frozen or processed food and make way for more fresh alternatives. While this can cost more in inventory, it all works out in the end – diners are willing to pay more for local food.

    Millennials Just Wanna Have Fun

    Millennials want to spend their money on an experience – not just a meal.

    Data collected from the 2017 Restaurant Technology Report revealed that the millennial generation places more importance on the ambiance and atmosphere of a restaurant than any other generation. This means that restaurants marketing to millennials must differentiate their experience

    If your restaurant offers the same menu as three other places in the area and has the same interior design as 95% of the country's similar restaurant concepts, your restaurant won't be perceived as unique, exclusive, or special. Millennials won't go out of their way for that. 

    Step 2: Marketing the Restaurant

    Once you've made your restaurant more millennial-friendly, you can start marketing to them. Here are five ways to market to millennials.

    Social Media Marketing

    You've heard of the importance of restaurant social media marketing time and time again, I'm sure. You probably have a restaurant Facebook page, and you may have even sprung for Twitter. 

    But let's talk about two tools you should be using to market to millennials that you may not have started on – Snapchat and Instagram.

    These two visual social media platforms are more popular with younger millennials than sites like Facebook. Twenty-somethings aren't averse to choosing their next meal based on a picture they see on their phone. If you don't have accounts on these platforms for your restaurant, take a few minutes and get them started today. 

    Get a Loyalty Program

    Members of restaurant loyalty programs drive more sales and visit a restaurant more often than non-loyalty members. The more loyalty sign-ups you can get, the better. 

    This is particularly relevant for millennials since modern loyalty programs are digital, which means punch cards (i.e. "Buy 9, get the tenth free") are simply not how restaurant loyalty is done anymore. It's beneficial for restaurants too, as diners who are part of a digital loyalty program spend 39% more than non-loyalty members. 

    Try Email and Text Message Marketing

    Over 95% of millennials have a smartphone, and they're constantly using it to text their friends and check their email. 

    Remember the stat about half of millennials preferring digital receipts? If your restaurant POS offers this feature, take advantage of it. When someone enters their phone number or email address after paying for their meal, you have that information stored into a giant customer database you can use for your marketing.

    Leverage this list by emailing or texting updates, newsletters, or special promotions to your loyal customers. 

    If digital receipts aren't one of your offerings yes, don't fret. You can always resort to the tried and true business card drop and build a manual list of contact info – though this will involve a bit more busy work typing in all that information. 

    List on Google My Business

    With 85% of millennials searching for a restaurant while on-the-go with their phones, your restaurant needs to be optimized for search. 

    Google designed their search page results to favor businesses who regularly update their information. Because of this, you may not be the first result if someone searches "restaurants near me," even if they're right in front of your store. 

    To rank highly on Google for local search, make sure your restaurant Google My Business page has the following:

    • Verified locations and phone number
    • Accurate hours
    • Photos
    • Follow-ups to customer reviews

    For more information on what Google prioritizes in local search, click here

    Word of Mouth & Reviews

    In the age of social media, everybody's talking. Turning your guests into advocates for your restaurant is a free and effective way to bring in new customers. 

    restaurant millennial marketing

    Encouraging customers to post about their experience to their social media profile or even write a review can expose your brand to dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of new faces depending on the size of their following.

    Even without technology, you should never underestimate the power of a friend's recommendation. Peer-to-peer conversations and suggestions from coworkers or classmates can lead to new guests through word-of-mouth restaurant marketing.

    Marketing Your Restaurant Millennials

    We know millennials are brand-loyal, stay attached to their phones, love to share their experiences, and will spend a good amount of their income on food.

    Restaurants perfectly fit that lifestyle.

    If your business hasn't taken steps to appeal to millennials and market to them, you're missing out on a growing market share that could make up the majority of your sales.

    What are you waiting for? Though they'd never admit it, millennials aren't getting any younger. 


    This article is compliments of Toast.

    As always, check out Restaurantsupply.com for all your restaurant needs.

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  6. How Much Does a Food Truck Cost to Start?

    how much does a food truck cost

    So, you want to start a food truck?

    City by city, permit by permit, the food trucks are coming. You’ve likely seen them pulling up at parks, breweries, and special events serving everything from bibimbap to banh mi.

    As ubiquitous as food trucks seem these days, the trend is still a young one. In fact, today’s food truck craze was born during The Great Recession. Roy Choi is only 47 years old but is considered the grandfather of the modern food truck, having launched a $1.2 billion dollar industry with his Korean taco truck, Kogi, in Los Angeles in 2008.

    Success stories like Roy’s make investing in a food truck seem like a no-brainer. After all, it’s a chance to launch your dream restaurant minus the rent payment, right? Well, yes and no.

    Food Truck Costs

    Besides the costs you’d incur running any food business (labor, cost of goods, marketing and advertising, insurance), there are specific food truck costs that would-be operators must consider.

    They include:

    • The Truck
    • Pimping Your Ride
    • Commercial Kitchen & Parking
    • Permits & Licenses

    Let’s break them down and answer the relatively new question: how much does a food truck cost to start?

    The Truck

    This is the largest and most obvious line item in your food truck budget.

    food truck costMetzy's Taqueria on How to Run a Food Truck

    A quick eBay search yields dozens of results for trucks, both new and used, ranging from under $10K to over $100K. Where your investment falls on that spectrum depends on:

    • The condition (new or used)
    • Equipment included
    • The size
    • Where in the country you make your purchase

    As with any purchase, a no-frills truck will run you considerably less than one with lots of bells and whistles. Similarly, if you live and plan to operate your truck in an expensive market, be prepared to pay a premium.

    Bottom Line Estimate: $25,000 - $40,000

    Pimping Your Ride

    Most food trucks are step vans that have been customized to meet the needs of foodservice. If you begin with a used food truck already outfitted for service, you may only have to make minor changes or updates to accommodate your model.

    If you’re beginning from scratch, this is no small task.

    how much is a food truckWheely Grilly on How to Start a Food Truck

    Food Truck Empire breaks down the basic steps involved once you have a vehicle lined up. You must:

    • Set up electrical wiring
    • Frame the interior
    • Cut out holes for your serving window and ventilation
    • Finish inside walls with fireproof material
    • Install gas / propane tank, hood, and cooking equipment
    • Configure plumbing
    • Set up your generator
    • Design outside of your truck and have it wrapped

    It’s a lot of steps involving lots of different professionals. You may elect to work as your own independent contractor or hire a company that specializes in customization to handle soup to nuts.

    Bottom Line Estimate: $50,000 - $200,000

    Commercial Kitchen Space & Parking

    Kitchen Space

    Serving meals on wheels is one thing. Prepping meals on wheels is another, and for the most part, it’s simply not feasible.

    Most food truck operators rent space at a commercial kitchen – a commissary – to prep and store food. In fact, commissary space is so essential to a food truck’s operations that many cities require proof of a commissary arrangement as part of their food truck application process.

    cost of a food truck

    Renting commissary space can run up to $1,000 month, usually incorporating both annual and hourly fees. Commissary kitchens serve many types of small food businesses, not just food truck operators, meaning they are popular places. In high demand markets it’s not uncommon for commissaries to have a wait list.

    If you find yourself competing for space, consider brokering an arrangement with other certified owners of commercial kitchen space. Restaurants, community centers, and even churches may have a certified kitchen that could be rented for food prep.

    Parking

    After food prep and service are done for the day, where do trucks go at night? To a city-approved, secure location, that’s where. Many cities strictly regulate where food trucks can park, not only when they’re serving, but when they’re closed as well.

    If you have the space to store at home on private property that’s certainly an option. But if not, many commissaries offer overnight parking as an a-la-cart add on. Be sure to consider this when shopping for your commercial kitchen space.

    Bottom Line Estimate: $500 - $1,000 / month

    Permits & Licenses

    Restaurant permits and licenses stack up quickly for any food business, but even more so when your operation is mobile. Casey Grawien is the owner and founder of Street Surfer, a food truck based in Tampa. She described the “licenses and permits to work in each zip code [they] have clients,” as her number one unexpected cost.

    “Since the Tampa area is so large,” Casey explained, “there are multiple rules and regulations you need to follow depending on [whether you’re serving in] public [or] private events.”

    Here’s a rundown of the basic permits and licenses food truck operators are expected to secure. It’s not uncommon though for cities to have additional requirements.

    • Business Certificate and EIN (Employer Identification Number)
    • Vehicle License
    • Seller’s Permit
    • Health Permits
    • Fire Inspection

    We looked at requirements for food truck operators in three different cities to see how fees stack up. Note that many of these are not one-time, but annual costs.

    Permit/License

    Boston, MA

    Rochester, NY

    New Orleans, LA

    Business Certificate

    $65

    $25

    $150

    Vehicle License

    $40

    $40

    $10

    Health Permit

    $100

    $200

    $100

    Fire Permit

    $110

    $100

    $50

    Hawker and Peddler Permit

    $62

    N/A

    N/A

    GPS Contract

    $299 + $89

    N/A

    N/A

    Food Truck License/Permit

    N/A

    $1000

    $400.25

    Food Truck Application

    $500

    $7

    $50

    Vendor Identification Badge

    N/A

    $24

    $5

    Sales Tax Deposit

    N/A

    N/A

    $50

    Total

    $1,265

    $1,396

    $815.25


    It’s clear to see that requirements vary considerably city to city. Additionally, simply navigating which fees are owed to which department and which order they need to be secured can be quite tricky. Many cities with a vibrant food truck scene have associations where members lobby for favorable policies and serve as a resource for newcomers. The Nashville Food Truck Association is a great example. Annual dues for participation are yet another cost to factor into your budget.

    Bottom Line Estimate: $800 - $1,400

    And the Grand Total is...

    Totaling up all these estimates, you can expect to spend between $75,000 - $250,000 to get your food truck off the ground. Keep in mind, this does not include universal restaurant startup costs such as labor, food, kitchen tools, or equipment. 

    Sticker shock setting in yet? While it’s relatively less expensive to start a food truck than opening a brick and mortar restaurant, it is still a big investment that requires careful planning.

    For aspiring food truck operators, Katharine Woodward, owner of Walter’s Hot Dogs has this advice:

    “Food trucks are amazing because you get to bring them all over, meet new customers everyday, and see [at which locations] your demand is highest. However I’d stress to everyone that truck life is not easy. It is a restaurant on wheels so not only do you need processes in place for admin, bookings, contracts, party planning, and HR, but you also need processes for opening and closing, loading and unloading, cleaning etc. It’s a 24/7 job, wifi is in and out, and things can always break on the road. There are a lot of variables, the same as a restaurant. But if you’re ready to work hard and love doing it everyday, truck life is very rewarding!”


    This article is compliments of Toast.

    As always, check out Restaurantsupply.com for all your restaurant needs.

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  7. 5 Reasons to Be Thankful You Work in the Restaurant Industry

    restaurant thanksgiving ideas

    The restaurant industry is not a place for the faint of heart.

    It takes a very unique person to thrive in the fast-paced, unpredictable, and chaotic restaurant environment. 50% of adults have done it, and 14.4 million Americans do it now.

    Working in the restaurant industry is more than an occupation; it is a lifestyle, and a difficult one to boot. For restaurant owners and employees, long hours, high employee turnover, slim margins, and insane competition are simply realities that come with the territory. Vacations and holidays? Fahgetaboutit! You’d be hard-pressed to find a restaurant owner or manager who has ever taken time off to vacation during a holiday weekend.

    The restaurant industry is certainly not a place for everyone, but let’s ignore the surplus of challenges that would cause any sane person to run screaming in the opposite direction for a moment. In the spirit of Thanksgiving, take a minute to think about the benefits of being a member of the chaotic, unforgiving world that is the restaurant industry.

    1) You Work in a Thriving Industry 

    Everyone needs to eat and millions of people enjoying eating out on a regular basis. Consumer confidence levels are on the rise, gas prices have decreased drastically, and the U.S. has seen steady job growth as of late, causing restaurant sales to hit all-time highs. According to a report by the National Restaurant Association, restaurant sales totaled $48.6 billion in October 2014, an increase of over $400 million in sales compared to the previous month. As you sit with your family, or serve other families this Thanksgiving, take a moment to be thankful that you chose a career in the restaurant industry and not in print journalism or with the US Postal Service.

    2) Every Day is Unique 

    When the kitchen is backed up, the most popular dish is 86'd, and the food runner calls in sick at the last minute, remember that you could be stuck in a cubicle, behind a desk all day. According to a Gallup poll, 71% of Americans are bored or disengaged at work. Of course, working in the restaurant industry does not mean that you are exempt from paperwork and mundane tasks, but days spent working in the restaurant industry are never repetitive. According to Angelo Kinicki, a management professor at Arizona State University, “It's repetitiveness that’s the culprit [for boredom in the workplace].” Every day spent working at a restaurant carries the promise of something new -- new people, new challenges, new curveballs, and endless opportunities for creativity and improvement.

    3) You Have the Opportunity to Make a Difference 

    Restaurant owners and employees often have the opportunity to make a huge impact on the lives of others. Each guest has his or her own story. A restaurant experience can contribute to someone's great day or change the course of a lousy one. Morton's staff met Peter Shankman at the airport after he facetiously requested a steak upon arrival after an exhausting day. A server at Chili's kindly fixed an autistic 7-year-old's cut cheeseburger after she cried that it was "broken." These stories are covered by the media and go viral because of the influence that restaurant workers have on the lives of other people. Whether its celebrating in happy times or uplifting spirits in rough times, restauratuers can play a crucial role in making a difference in their guests’ lives.

    4) You Get to Be a Part of Someone Else’s Story

    Whether guests visit your restaurant on their first date, to catch up with old friends, or to celebrate a special occasion, when they choose to dine at your establishment, they make you an element of their story. In 20 years, when a couple tells the story of their first date, or when life-long friends reminisce about the past, they will talk about your restaurant and remember the experience that they had there. 

    5) You Are a Member of a Team

    Most industries don't require that employees work collaboratively with a diverse team of people toward a common goal every day. In order for a restaurant to run smoothly and efficiently, teamwork is not optional. You don't have to be BFFs with the entire staff, but there's nothing better than that feeling that you're operating a well-oiled machine. 

    Share the reasons that you are thankful to you work in the restaurant industry with us in the comments section below and have a Happy Thanksgiving, whether you spend it with your family or with the families dining at your restaurant!

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  8. Christmas in Restaurants: Running Joyful Restaurant Promotions

    christmas.jpg

    During this special time of year, everyone gets together and celebrates the abundance of deals and promotions happening.

    If your restaurant wants to stand out this holiday season, you'll need to know how to run an effective restaurant promotion to bring in and satisfy customers.

    No matter what the celebration is, every holiday is a crucial opportunity for restaurants to temporarily change things up in the business, which could result in:

    The holidays are about giving and receiving - so we suggest the following: give and you will receive!  

    Here are some areas where you can create restaurant promotions for the holidays.

    And if you really want to stand out during holidays all year, download Toast's Holiday Handbook!

    Restaurant Promotion Idea #1: Gift Cards

    There are many reasons for restaurants to offer gift cards. Let's start with the clincher - some restaurant types see a 191% spending increase on average when a guest pays with a gift card.

    Some of the other perks of offering gifts cards include:

    • Guaranteed money: Whether that gift card is redeemed or not, you officially make that sale.
    • Reaching new customers: If one of your regulars buys a gift card for their friend, that's (hopefully) a new face you'll see in your restaurant and can continue to delight again and again. 
    • A higher payday: 45% of guests spend more than the gift card value when using gift cards, according to Toast's 2016 Restaurant Gift Card Study.

    So how does this coincide with the holidays?

    About half of all restaurant gift card sales take place during the month of December - that's around 50% of all gift card sales taking place over the course of 8.3% of the year!

    Cash in on this gift card craze by offering special promotions for gift card purchase during the month of December. Let's take a look at what Blaze Pizza is doing this year. 

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    Blaze is offering a great incentive for buying a gift card. With a $25 gift card purchase, guests will get a free pizza pass. This is a smart idea for a few reasons.

    1. Some of Blaze's customers (like me) would consider buying $25 in gift cards just to get the free pizza pass, then keep all the funds for themselves and use it over time. After all, I'm not stopping my Blaze visits anytimes soon. This is guaranteed revenue for Blaze.
    2. Blaze's advocates can buy the card for a present to someone who has yet to try their pizza, then pocket the free pass for themselves. 
    3. People buy gift cards during the holidays. With an incentive, Blaze is making sure people buy gift cards from them.
    4. Someone buying for a Blaze-lover but who has maybe not tried Blaze can gift the $25 card and use the pass to finally try it for themselves. This is for a small customer acquisition cost of one pizza, which Blaze can easily earn back after winning the customer over with their delicious pizza and stellar customer service.

    Another nice touch to this promotion is the expiration date - the coupon is valid only for two months. Gift cards can't expire, but free passes can. This adds some immediacy to get to Blaze while the coupon is valid.

    Now that's a smart restaurant promotion. 

    Restaurant Promotion Idea #2: Loyalty Program Engagement

    Who doesn't love restaurant loyalty programs?

    If you don't, you should.

    Loyalty programs are so popular because they not only reward loyalty - they create it. Thus, they result in more spending from your guests.

    They also generate invaluable customer data to help you discover the buying behavior of your guests. Toast Marketer Allie Tetreault supports this idea, saying in a recent FitSmallBusiness article that loyalty programs are a great way to leverage your email list during the holiday season.

    For this holiday restaurant promotion idea, offer an incentive to those who come into your restaurant and are not members of your loyalty program. Offer a promotion for the holidays - everyone who joins your restaurant loyalty program during the month of December gets a free soft drink or dessert. If your loyalty program lets you pre-load points onto an account, it's also a good incentive to increase sign ups if you can offer bonus points for signing up in December. 

    But let's get back to the question of why a loyalty program is worth it for your restaurant.

    With a loyalty program, an individual's spending amount can increase by 39% and visitation frequency can increase by 75%. For the marginal discount or freebie that you occasionally give out, that seems completely worth it.

    Not to mention, if we're talking about a digital loyalty program based off a record of customer information, you have customer contact information and buying patterns right at your fingertips.

    Using the holidays to reel in more members to your customer loyalty program is a smart and easy restaurant promotion idea will benefit your restaurant all year.

    Restaurant Promotion Idea #3: Social Media

    Social media for restaurants - it's a puzzle, but when you put that puzzle together, it's a beautiful thing. Especially around the holidays.

    No matter what holiday promotion your restaurant is running this year - make your social media followers aware. This is a free way to explain the promotion and get some shares on the topic. 

    You can also use social media during any holidays to...

    • Run contests for your followers (and get more followers) by giving away gift cards or coupons for free food.
    • Show pictures of your limited-time holiday menu or menu items (Shrieking Spaghetti for Halloween, Peppermint Pastries for Christmas, etc.).
    • Announce your holiday hours so everyone knows when you will and will not be open.
    • Remind your followers to make a reservation for this busy time of year.

    This article is compliments of Toast.

    As always, check out Restaurantsupply.com for all your restaurant needs.

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  9. Can The Can: Making Pumpkin Purée from Scratch

    Making pumpkin pureé from scratch is easier than you think. 

    You're not only going to taste the difference, both you're body and mother nature are going to thank you. Studies have shown there are high levels of BPA in canned goods. The chemical BPA (Bisphenol A) is extremely harmful, being linked to reproductive abnormalities, a heightened risk of breast and prostate cancers, diabetes, and heart disease.


    Ditch the can aisle of the grocery store. Roll up your sleeves, and enjoy the process of using fresh ingredients.Farm-to-table is a win for everyone. Picking up a pumpkin at the localfarmstand is better for the enviornment.

    The average 18-wheeled semitruck travels

    about 5 miles per gallon of gas.

    That means about 500 gallons of diesel fuel is needed to deliver produce an average distance of 1,500 miles. Yikes.

    To top it off, you're helping the local economy and supporting your community. 

    How to Make Pumpin Pureé

    Did you know the best pumpkins for pies are "sugar" or "pie"pumpkins?

    Not the "Jack-O-Lantern" pumpkins, which are mostly hallow.


    1. Buy a small sugar or pie pumpkin from the local market.
    2. Cut pumpkin in half, then remove seeds and fibers.
    3. Place cut sides down, on a foil covered cookie sheet.
    4. Bake at 425°F for 40-50, or until fork-tender.
    5. Remove from oven and let cool.
    6. Scoop out softened pumpkin and pureé in food processor.

    Follow your favorite pumpkin recipe, and enjoy every moment from prepping, to cooking, to taking that first warm bite of pumpkin pie. One of our favorite pumpkin pie recipes we recommend trying is Nany Fuller's, from Food Network's Farmhouse Rules



    As always, check out Restaurantsupply.com for all your restaurant needs.

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  10. 3 Clever Coffee Shop Interior Design Ideas

    Coffee shops around the world have a few specific things in common; they’re cozy, inviting, and a hub of social activity.

    Aside from those traits, the sky's the limit when it comes to how you set your café apart with clever coffee shop interior design.

    With coffee shops opening up everywhere – from major cities to much smaller towns – the growth of coffee shops in the United States is around 7% year over year. Therefore, the need to make your location unique and attract repeat customers is more important than ever.


    So, how can aspiring coffee shop owners create environments that can challenge much larger corporations, appeal to customers, and be worth the trip to town rather than a trip to the grocery store?

    1. Accentuate Local Touches and Flavor

    One trait that multi-location coffee shop designs have is that many of them look the same. Due to corporate branding, you’d know if you walked into a Starbucks in New York City or in Burke, Texas. When planning out your coffee shop design, take the opportunity to set your location apart by adding local flair or items that are unique to your part of the world. Jane on Fillmore in the Pacific Heights neighborhood of San Francisco accomplishes this in part with their room-length mirror that was 'tagged' by local artist Geso. Other out of the box ideas include custom murals by more local artists, playing local music, and even serving food items and syrups that are locally produced.

    2. Remember that Lighting Matters

    Living in Boston, I see a lot of coffee shops that make use of exposed piping and brick walls. While some may think that this style is a little too hipster, there are practical benefits to this aesthetic. Many coffee shops historically use exposed bulbs, which emit a soft yellow light. That light reflects off brick and wood surfaces to fill the area with more warm light. At later times of the day (especially evening), warmer lights are easier for our eyes to adjust to, as opposed to brighter or cooler lights, like florescent lights. You notice this more in coffee shops that are open later into the evening, versus those that are open during the day. Consider when you expect to have the highest traffic, and plan your lighting accordingly. Cooler lights and lighter walls help to illuminate areas during the day (especially as lighter colors reflect sunlight easier), while warmer colors make reading and lounging easier during the evening. Check out the below examples of Toby's Estate and I Feel Espresso Bar for inspiration.

    3. Keep it (Mobile) Friendly

    Walking down the street, one thing you're bound to notice is how many people are on their phones. I'm certainly guilty of this as well. I even start to panic when my phone is at less than 10% battery when I'm not close to a charger. When drafting up your café design, one way to keep your tech-savvy customers in your location is to include USB outlets. Having a few USB ready outlets in your location can encourage patrons to stick around longer while they charge their phones (and maybe get another cup of coffee while they're at it). Many of these outlets are inexpensive and easy to install, giving you a low-cost way to make your coffee shop a little more tech friendly.

    What Are Your Coffee Shop Interior Design Tips?

    The coffee shop is a staple of towns across America, and while not everyone has the resources of the bigger coffee companies, making yours stand out isn't an impossible task. By taking stock of what resources you have from your local area, considering the ambiance of your location, and with a little hard work, you can bring something new to the table without breaking the bank. What are some of your coffee shop interior design tips? Share in the comments below!


    This article is compliments of Toast.

    As always, check out Restaurantsupply.com for all your restaurant needs.

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