Monthly Archives: May 2019

  1. Plan your Prix Fixe Right

    Plan your Prix Fixe Right

    Prix fixe menus have been popular across Europe for decades, but it’s only been fairly recently that they’ve gained a presence in the US--thanks in no small part to the recession in 2009. It’s a great way to get new customers in the door, and it’s also good for generating some creativity in the kitchen--as well as a chance to test out some new restaurant supplies. But as with everything, there is a right way and a wrong way to do prix fixe menus, and going about it the wrong way can be just as bad as not doing it at all. With that in mind, here are the things you need to know to successfully launch a prix fixe menu option.

    Know your options

    There are a few different ways to incorporate prix fixe into your restaurant’s rotation, and there are advantages and disadvantages to consider with them all. But first, you should consider whether or not the option is even worth it, or doable, for your operation. In essence, a prix fixe menu is a combo meal option: generally there’s a starter, a main, and possibly a dessert all for a standardized price. One benefit to this is that with a prix fixe menu, it’s much easier to have a per-head cost in your calculations. On the other hand, the menu may scare away some less adventurous diners who don’t want to make the initial commitment.

    With that in mind, there are a few ways to incorporate the concept into your restaurant business: you can exclusively have a fixed price meal for either lunch or dinner, offer it in tandem with the regular menu, or do it only for special events. Obviously the easiest to implement would be to have a fixed-price meal available for specific occasions, such as Valentine’s Day or Mother’s Day. Such meals are a good way of putting your toe in the water, and getting a chance to see how those events go over. Another way to look at the idea is to find out which service period is slower--lunch or dinner--and either replace regular service with the set menu, or add the set menu in addition to the regular service.

    Plan your rollout

    Once you’ve made the decision to incorporate a prix fixe menu into your restaurant’s rotation, plan how to make it happen. This includes making menu decisions, as well as deciding how to price your fixed price menu. On the menu-planning side, an important decision to make is whether you want to stick with dishes that your restaurant already makes, or introduce something new. Both approaches have their merits: by using items your business already offers, you can stick with the usual orders for components, but offering new items for a fixed price can be a way to attract existing customers and new ones alike with the prospect of something new. Whichever way you choose to go, it’s important to stay on-brand; don’t go too far afield with new dishes, or else it won’t make any sense with the rest of your restaurant’s offerings.

    From the pricing standpoint, a lot will depend on which choice you made in regards to the menu offering. The goal is to make sure that the prix fixe menu offers a value to customers--less than they would pay for individual items, if you’re using existing menu options, for example--while also making sure that costs are covered. This consideration can also play into menu choice if you decide to offer items that are not already on your menu; it’s important to find out how much the cost per head for a dish will be, and conservatively estimate early interest in the item for the sake of ordering things. If you succeed in that end of things, you’re likely to be able to find a price point that will more than justify the added menu and some additional work, while still offering a value to customers.

    The great thing about prix fixe menus is that they are easy to promote, they allow chefs some creativity in the kitchen, and they are a way to control costs in a straightforward manner. By promoting your restaurant’s new menu and the great value that it offers--through social media, and possibly a few simply-designed notices in the restaurant itself--you can draw in new customers as well as bringing in existing customers more often. With a little bit of advance planning and thought, your restaurant can incorporate this clever trick that has been so popular across Europe and in other countries for so long; and in doing so, increase revenues, which you can then invest at least some of back into the business--getting new restaurant supplies to continue developing and growing.

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  2. Is your Menu Designed Properly?

    Is your Menu Designed Properly?

    Anyone that’s been out to eat can testify that a crowded menu discourages ordering, but a menu that’s too small makes customers feel like their choices are limited. The answer is somewhere in the middle, and the design definitely matters. Check out our tips below to improve your menu and your sales!

    1. Utilize the Golden Triangle

    People generally read a menu in the same way. Starting in the middle, and moving up to the right corner, before settling on the upper left hand corner. This layout has been dubbed the “golden triangle,” and you should focus on putting the items that you’re most interested in selling in this area.

    2. Invest in Digital Design

     Basically, don’t try to create your own menu unless you’re a professional graphic designer. The investment will pay for itself, and you’ll have a beautiful menu for months to come. In the age of Instagram, photo-worthy menus are a must have.

    3. Use a Decoy

     Put your most expensive dishes at the forefront, instead of trying to hide the pricetag. This will make everything else seem cheap in comparison.

    4. Lose the Pricetag

     If your restaurant is on the higher-end, eliminate the dollar sign completely. Not only does this look better, but it takes away the harshness of paying. Think about the last time you went to a restaurant that used this system, and recall if you felt a little calmer about ordering. Chances are, you did.

    There you have it! Use these little tricks to help improve the quality of your menu, and improve the success of your restaurant. Don’t forget to make sure you’re keeping your customers updated on menu changes, specials, and 86’ed items via social media.

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  3. What will be your Signature Summer Cocktail?

    What will be your Signature Summer Cocktail?

    As the warm weather deepens and the threat of late-season icy blasts goes away, more and more people are enjoying the outdoors, and hand-in-hand with enjoying the sunny weather comes the craving for interesting cold drinks to enjoy it with. Restaurant supply stores carry all the hardware needed to craft beautiful, intriguing cocktails, but just as important as the tools to make drinks are the ingredients you make them with. With that in mind, there are some great sources of inspiration not only in curated lists but also in just the fruits and vegetables available in the season. By taking a new look at a few different alcohols and the way they can combine with the best flavors of the season, you can create cocktails that will encourage people to keep sipping.

    The first thing to look at when considering summer cocktails is the base liquors best suited to the season. Consider focusing on those liquors that were developed in warmer climates, like Southern Italian limoncello or India-inspired gin. Bright, crisp flavors pair well with summery fruits like citrus--take for example this recipe for a modified Tom Collins, which pairs limoncello with lemon and gin to create a sweet, sharp drink that will cool even the most heated heads.

    Frozen drinks are also a traditional summer favorite, but there is something to be said for incorporating unusual ingredients into them. While cucumbers have long been a favorite for drinks like the Pimm’s Cup, they also can make for a satisfying texture and not-too-sweet flavor for daiquiris, as in this recipe for a cucumber daiquiri. Another option to consider is an avocado margarita; the avocado adds a creaminess to the sour lime, sharp tequila, and salt of the mainstay beverage, and of course there are few things that play better with avocado than lime. You can also go in the direction of using unusual liquor combinations to craft frozen drinks--gin and tonic comes together beautifully in a blender to create a beverage that’s even more cooling than the original, and the classic negroni becomes something even more interesting when it’s frozen as opposed to on the rocks.

    Of course, another mainstay of summer drinking is wine--particularly white or blush wine. But it doesn’t have to be boring. In addition to sangria, made with summer fruits like peaches or strawberries, you can look into wine cocktails like this white wine paloma, which uses sauvignon blanc in place of tequila to make a refreshing drink that isn’t quite as potent as the original--but which is every bit as flavorful. For something a little harder, think about combining the best of the margarita with the best of sangria, as in this recipe for the “sangrita”.

    Another trick for sprucing up summer cocktails is to incorporate different flavors through flavored syrups or other accessory ingredients; thyme-infused simple syrup can elevate a classic Collins to the next level, while pepper-infused simple syrup can add a sharp, spicy counterpoint to a rocks margarita. The flavor combinations are almost endless--especially if you make your own syrups for flavoring your drinks.

    Of course, not everyone will want something alcoholic to drink; non-alcoholic beverages can also be exciting in the summer. Mexican agua fresca offers a wealth of possibilities to play with simply by changing up the fruit you use to make the simplified punch: while watermelon is a traditional flavor, cantaloupe is delightful too, and strawberry is a long-time favorite. You can also use your flavored syrups to add interest to lemonade--lavender syrup makes for a particularly delicious and relaxing drink. Non-alcoholic punches don’t have to be boring and overly sweet; you can switch out traditional ginger ale for sharper, less-sweet ginger beer to change up the syrupy taste, or use fresh cherries instead of jarred ones to make a beverage that won’t give you a toothache. Consider also incorporating aromatic bitters--just a dash--into your punches; while they do contain alcohol in most cases, the amount you add is minimal, on par with what you’d add of vanilla extract to cooked items.

    Whatever your tastes, there are ways to bring the summer into any cocktail hour that you want--and with a few good recipes, along with some solid restaurant supplies, you can make delicious and intriguing drinks all summer long.

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  4. National Burger Day: make it memorable for your customers!

    National Burger Day: make it memorable for your customers!

    Memorial Day Weekend marks the official start of grilling season, and Tuesday, May 28th, is National Burger Day!  Make the most out of your marketing budget by celebrating this fun holiday with your customers. Here are a couple ideas to get you started:

    Offer a special on burgers for National Burger Day.  Especially if you are known for your burgers, doing a beer/burger pairing or a specialty burger will give your customers a better reason to come in and celebrate with you, and give them a reason to come to you instead of the competition.

    Let people know about your special!  Some great, cheap marketing ideas include social media posts, a newsletter, and working with a local blogger to let them know about National Burger Day and why they should come in to celebrate with you.

    Use hashtag #nationalburgerday on Instagram to get your post trending and make sure that people notice it!

    Have fun!  Videos with your staff on social media, a contest to see who has the best burger picture, and sharing your favorite burger recipe are all great ways to push your special in front of a larger audience and get your customers talking about your special - and about you!

    Make a list!  If National Burger Day is a success for you for marketing, look ahead for the year and pick out a couple other national days to market.  It’s easy, fun, and a great way to get people talking about your restaurant.

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  5. A Summer Cocktail Featuring Crushed Ice

    A Summer Cocktail Featuring Crushed Ice

    Summer drinks tend to be tall, garnished with a tiny cocktail umbrella, and feature lots and lots of ice.  Crushed ice in particular is a fun, trendy, and modern cocktail feature with a couple benefits to you (fills up the glass/looks fancy/keeps your ingredients cost down).  By updating your ice machine - and your cocktail list - you can charge more for a premium cocktails and keep your bar nightlife at the top of the competition.

    We have linked one of our favorite crushed ice machines below, and here is a recipe that is perfect for the patio and features crushed ice:

    Jungle Bird Cocktail:

    1 ½ oz. rum

    ¾ oz. Campari

    ½ oz. fresh lime juice

    ½ oz. simple syrup

    1 ½ oz. pineapple juice

    Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker and shake thoroughly until frothy.  Pour over a glass of crushed ice into a balloon glass. Garnish with fruit, leaves, or a cocktail umbrella and serve immediately!

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  6. Temps are rising - is your refrigerator up to the task?

    Temps are rising - is your refrigerator up to the task?

    Memorial Day Weekend marks the official start of the summer!  As temperatures goes up, so do your cooling costs - and your customers’ demand for a cool beverage!  Now is the perfect time to make an upgrade to your refrigerated beverage case and invest in a brand new Empura.  Today’s featured fridge is the Empura 22.7” with a White Swing Glass Door.

    This little beauty is a real space saver for tight corners, measuring in just under 2 feet for tight spaces.  It is available for sale on our website via the link below. Here are some of its best features:

    • Accurate temperature control

    • Easy to read digital LED display

    • Space saver

    • Sleek, streamlined look

    • Wide glass door for maximum merchandise visibility

    • Modern white baked enamel and steel finish

    If you’re looking to fill up a bigger space and need bigger inventory, you can place two of these fridges next to each other or flank them on opposite sides of another display for maximum aesthetic effect.

    Buy this fridge here:

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  7. How Food Trends Can Affect Your Restaurant

    How Food Trends Can Affect Your Restaurant

         The dining experience has changed in a number of ways over the past few decades. With an influx of new restaurants and a booming restaurant business, consumers have more choices than ever when picking a spot for a night out. While food trends are ever changing, they certainly shouldn’t be ignored by the restaurant industry. Consumers have the power to make more decisions than ever when dining out. This week on the blog, we’re discussing which food trends to look out for and how they can affect your restaurant’s menu.

         Farm to plate is an extremely popular trend this year, especially with the upcoming summer season. The idea behind farm to plate is sourcing local ingredients from meat to grains and vegetables, and serving them at your restaurant. An agreement with a local farmer can potentially ensure that you have the freshest ingredients at your restaurant, which is greatly appreciated by consumers seeking this specific trend.

         Sustainability goes hand in hand with the farm to plate concept. Sustainable items can range from seafood to vegetables, and consumers are interested in this trend because it creates a positive impact on the environment. Sustainable seafood means good fishing practices, not over-fishing, and fishing for animals that are not endangered. You can offer a short explanation on your menu about how the fish were caught and with what method for consumers interested in this trend.

        Gluten-free and Paleo foods are all over the media. Offering these items on your menu means catering to a niche crowd, so if your restaurant does not serve this population it might not be necessary. Gluten-free is much more common than strict paleo, but the two go hand in hand. Both gluten-free and Paleo refer to foods without grains. Gluten-free specifically refers to food without gluten. Some people have allergic reactions to gluten and cannot tolerate it at all, so it’s helpful to keep a few gluten-free options on the menu for those populations.

        While food trends have an expiration date, it’s important to still keep them in mind. Your restaurant does not need to exhaust every food trend and change the menu constantly, and your guests wouldn’t appreciate that either. However, finding a food trend that works for your restaurant’s culture and implementing it into the menu will show that your restaurant keeps up to date with the current climate and is ready and willing to adapt to change.

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  8. Basic Commercial Kitchen Plumbing

    Basic Commercial Kitchen Plumbing

    Hopefully you will not be in charge of installing your commercial kitchen’s plumbing system, but you don’t want to be completely in the dark about it either. Commercial kitchen plumbing is one of the most complicated types of plumbing that one can encounter. From exhaust hoods to backflow prevention and hot water regulation, there is a multitude of different parts and pieces that make sure a commercial kitchen’s plumbing is running smoothly. So while you may not be in charge of installing each cog and screw, this week on the blog we’re going over some basic commercial kitchen plumbing to educate yourself when shopping for replacement parts and finding the best item for your needs.

    The first and most critical piece of information when considering restaurant plumbing needs is that all needs are different. There is no one size fits all plumbing model because each kitchen has a unique set of needs in order to best serve their customers. Things you may need to consider for your kitchen are venting requirements for sanitary drainage, indirect waste requirements from food preparation and dishwashing sinks, the location of employee restroom facilities, water temperature requirements, and more.

    So now you’ve met with a consultant and determined your needs, you’ll want to consider what piece of equipment is right for the job. One piece of equipment you might need to install more of or replace is the faucet. There are many different types of faucet in the average commercial kitchen, each with a unique function. First, wall mount faucets. These faucets are used if your water line is connected directly to the backsplash of your sink. These faucets are available in single or double faucets, in a variety of faucet sizes, and with or without a nozzle. You can shop all of our wall mount faucets here.

    If you have a lot of deep pots, woks, or paella pans, you will need a specialized faucet to adequately clean the dish. These faucets are versatile because their attachments allow them to bend and twist while still attached to the sink so that you can clean virtually any shape of dish. These faucets have extra stability and come with double jointed nozzles. You can shop all of our pot and wok filler faucets here.

    Restroom faucets have a little more flexibility and are chosen based on function and design. Choosing a restroom faucet will depend on the type of plumbing that the faucet can function with but also the design of the restroom itself. You can also choose between hands free or single lever faucets depending on your restaurant’s aesthetic. You can shop all of our restroom faucets here. One size certainly does not fit all when it comes to restaurant plumbing, and one faucet cannot do the job for the entire restaurant. Make sure that you have planned out how many and which type of faucets your restaurant will require, and then we encourage you to head to our website to view our extensive collection of restaurant faucets.

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  9. The Best Ice Machines for an Athletic Center

    The Best Ice Machines for an Athletic Center

    Ice is the best thing to use when someone takes a fall, has swelling, or is recovering from a sports-related injury. However, one size of ice does not fit all. There are specific types of ice that work best for different recovery centers and types of injury, and this week on the blog we’re diving in to which type is best for your setting.

    If you’re not familiar, cube ice is a type of ice that is produced in either diced, crescent, or square shapes. This type of ice is hard and does not melt easily. Cubed ice is excellent for ice baths, which athletes will appreciate after a competition or a long day of training. A cube ice machine may be an excellent choice for your facility if you house a lot of athletes or run many training sessions there. Ice baths require a lot of ice to fill, in fact you need a 3:1 ratio of water to ice which can end up being around 40 pounds of ice depending on the size of the tub. For this type of use, you’ll need a cubed ice machine that can produce large amounts of ice throughout the day. We recommend the Manitowoc Air Cooled systems for this type of production. You can shop one of our favorites here.

    Flaked ice is not a great choice for ice baths, but works well when placed into a ziploc bag for swelling or injury recovery. You can typically find flaked ice at the grocery store in the vegetable display or seafood section. Flaked ice is comprised of small, thin pieces that mold and compress to the surface they’re pressed upon. This makes flaked ice a great choice for a setting like a physical activity center that works with children, where you will see a lot of falls but not a lot of ice baths. One machine that we love for flaked ice is the Manitowoc Air-Cooled Flake Ice Machine. Great for a high volume setting, this machine can produce up to 191 pounds of ice in 24 hours.  You can shop this product here.

    If you’re looking for a type of ice that melts a little more slowly but can still be used for swelling and ice packs, consider nugget ice. Nugget ice is great because it compresses to the site of a wound similarly to flake ice, but it melts slower resulting in less leakage and longer wear time. Nugget ice is not ideal for ice baths, but can certainly be used in a physical education center or rec center where bumps and bruises are common. Nugget ice is ideal because it can also be used for beverages. One machine that we love is the Scotsman Air-Cooled Nugget Style Ice Machine. You can shop this product here.

    If you’re shopping for an ice machine for your athletic center, consider the needs of your clientele. If you work with high-level athletes or in a large training center, you might need a cubed ice machines for ice baths. If the primary use of ice will be for cuts and bruises, you might want to consider a flaked ice or nugget ice machine. Whichever machine you decide on, we’re here to help! Visit our website to shop our products and speak with a customer service agent.

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  10. What Food and Beverage Cart Suits Your Needs

    What Food and Beverage Cart Suits Your Needs

         When you need to provide service at locations that change regularly, or if you have limited space and need to store various serving stations out of view, consider a food or beverage serving cart. Our website offers coffee and dessert carts, meat carts, condiment stations, and mobile cash register stands to fit your restaurant’s ever changing needs.

        Cash register stands are great to use as a centerpiece while hiding POS materials from customers’ view. These stands offer front and back storage to optimize space and are easily transportable, allowing for your restaurant to have fluidity if necessary while maintaining a professional atmosphere. You can find all of our cash register stands here.

        Serving carts have many different uses, and can even be used for the home. If you don’t own a restaurant, you can still benefit from adding a beautiful serving cart to your collection. Serving carts can function as bookshelves, attractive towel holders for the bathrooms, ways to display seasonal fruit and vegetables, exposed pantries, and for office supply storage. To view all of our serving carts, click here.

        Condiment carts are essential items for your concession stand, cafeteria, dining hall, food kiosk, or other quick-serve establishment. Condiment carts can relieve congestion in high traffic areas, and are a great way to spread out the functionality of your concession stand by adding a serve-your-self area. Condiment cart pumps are convenient and easy to clean, and all of our condiment carts are extremely durable so you can rely on them for high volume usage. View all of our condiment carts here.

        Food and beverage carts are a great addition to any restaurant, concession stand, or home. It’s important when shopping for a food and beverage stand that you understand the unique needs of your restaurant. Our food and beverage carts come in a range of sizes and functionalities, so that you can find the perfect fit for your needs. Visit our website or speak to a customer service agent to get you started.

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