antonio rossini

  1. Shaken Not Stirred

    The infamous lines by the legend him self, Mr. James Bond. A phrase that has been repeated in bars and restaurants sense its debut in 1958 and a cocktail that has become as famous as Mr. Bond himself. Even today, 50 years later, restauranteurs name and serve 007’s martinis in honor of the man who made the drinks famous, classy and above all dangerous.

    But, what makes a dirty martini? What entices clients to purchase the drink repeatedly night after night? Does the name of the drink draw guests attention in? Or is it the perfectly balanced favor of vodka, vermouth and olive brine that make it perfectly delectable?

    Martini

    One thing is for sure, if you enjoy vodka this classic cocktail has a certain something about it which gives its consumers a sophisticated yet ahead-of-the-times vibe. Many times in todays bars and restaurants, when you see a group of young professionals walk through the bar and one of the friends orders a dirty martini, you better get ready to make many more. A trickle effect will more than likely occur and half will end up ordering the beverage. Its almost as though consumers believe they are seen in a brighter light when drinking a dirty martini with a group, and may slightly feel more mystical when one in hand.

    Finding a bartender who can make this libation is with the correct proportions of ingredients, is not as easy as one would think. In fact it seems as though every consumer prefer their dirty martini, just slightly different, one “extra dirty”, one “extra dry” and one may simple want that perfectly balanced cocktail they have come to love. Bartenders are able to play around with the cocktail, adding more or less of the brine, as every consumers has a different palate and distinguish what the standard amount for their cocktail should be.

    Our consumers personal favorite seems to be the martini is the “Extra Dirty”. To make sure you are able to serve the classic cocktail, at its best we want to share our recipe with you!

    EXTRA DIRTY MARTINI
    Ingredients

    • 2 1/2 ounces vodka
    • 1/2 ounce dry vermouth
    • 5 teaspoons olive brine

    Special Equipment

    • Cocktail Shaker
    • Chilled Martini Glass

    Directions

    1 In cocktail shaker, mix ingredients together over a generous amount of ice. Shake, and then shake some more..
    2 Pour mixture into chilled martini glass, garnish with a few olives and sip away!

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  2. Tips to a healthy work/ life balance

    Being in the hospitality industry we know the curse of a long hours, spending more time at work than at home. Typically small business owners spend 65 hours or more a week keeping their business running properly and to standards. Most owners/managers feel as though they are perpetually racing against the clock to do all they need to accomplish and most have a looming feeling that there are not enough hours in the week. This underlying stress causes most owners/managers to feel as though they do not have a work-life balance and a balanced life is an illusion.

    This illusion can translate into a hatred towards the work place and typically causes break down and the need to take exuberant amounts of time off away from the business. Because most hospitality professionals tend to be extreme protectionist it becomes increasingly difficult for owners/ managers to spend time away from the business and learn simple time management skills that offer a balances between work and life.

    There are however tips that we have found to be extremely helpful in creating a lifestyle that is conducive happiness! Keep these tips in mind if ever you find yourself stressed and spending too much time at work.

    1- Scheduling - Scheduling properly is a huge proponent in running a successful operation. We tend to say scheduling two weeks in advance is an adequate amount of time to schedule properly and make any changes if needed. If you do not use a scheduling tool already, we recommend trying HotSchedules, the programing is easy, comprehensive and a wonderful tool to use.

    2- Manage social media better- If your restaurant has a strong social media presence and you have a strong marketing team you will find your stress levels diminish. If customers view your establishment in a positive light you will have steady stream of customers continuously coming to your restaurant.

    3- Ask for help- Many owners/ managers forget to ask for help, to ask for help with small tasks that can be done by an administrative assistant. Most forget that they did not go into business to do the books, do the marketing and miscellaneous paper work. Don’t be afraid to hire outside help and do not be ashamed to outsource tasks that you simply do not have time for.

    There are of course many other ways to better your work/life balance, but know that you should always look to do the work that is only most important. Focus on building strong relationships with your customers and staff members and know that you are always able to manage your time that is best for you.

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  3. 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

    Ingredients

    • 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)

    Instructions

    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

    Ingredients

    • 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

    Instructions

    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

    Ingredients

    • 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

    Instructions

    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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  4. Zucchini Overload

    One of the best seasonal bounties in this time of harvest is veggies. Gardeners and restaurant owners alike are very likely to either supply locally or grow their own locally, one of our favorite vegetables of the season - Zucchini.

    One of the most obvious receipts that allow zucchini to be put to work and is truly everyones favorite is Zucchini Bread. And like everything else your customers will have their own personal favorite style of zucchini bread. There are the classic takes on the scrumptious treat and then there are totally outrageous over the top recipes that will be sure to delight even your most adventure clients.

    Our personal favorite recipe that we truly think your guest will enjoy as a healthy alternative to dessert is our chocolate zucchini bread! Yes, we know that not everyone will jump in excitement when we recommend trying this new dessert but, it is a great way to be different and to appeal to those who try to eat healthy and would tend to look the other way when offered dessert.

    Our version tastes like a bakery version of zucchini bread, because, well it’s a recipe used and created by a well trained baker. What we love about his bread, besides the double dose of chocolate, is its texture. Many time zucchini breads can taste oily and dense. To prevent this our recipe uses less oil and cream cheese is added, giving the brea it’s rich flavor and tender crumb. Chocolate flavor is develop in two ways: cocoa powder and chocolate chips.

    Because, we know you want the recipe here it is!

     

    This quick bread is a the best of both worlds: healthy thanks to zucchini and a true chocolate cure thanks to a double dose of cocoa and chocolate chips.

    Servers : 1 Loaf

    Ingredients

    •3 ounces cream cheese

    •1½ cup sugar

    •2 eggs

    •⅓ cup canola oil

    •2 cups all-purpose flour

    •¼ cup cocoa powder

    •1 teaspoon baking powder

    •1 teaspoon baking soda

    •1 teaspoon vanilla or 1 vanilla bean

    •¾ teaspoon salt

    •2 cups grated zucchini

    •1 cup pecans, chopped

    •1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

    •**For high altitude baking, decrease the sugar by 2 tablespoons and reduce the baking powder and baking soda to ¾ teaspoon each.

    Instructions

    1-Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare a 9½ X 5¼-inch baking pan with cooking spray. Beat the cream cheese and sugar with an electric mixer until well blended. Add the eggs one at a time and blend, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl as you go. Mix in the canola oil and the vanilla.

    2-In another bowl or on a piece of parchment paper, sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the flour mixture to the cream cheese mixture and blend well. Mix in the zucchini, pecans and chocolate morsels and spread into the prepared pan. Bake for 55-65 minutes or until the edges of the bread begin to pull away from the edges of the pan. Cool for 30 minutes and then remove from the pan.

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  5. Best Practices for Restaurant Lighting

    Did you know there is a best practice for restaurant lighting? Similar to choosing the right lighting and placement for your home, there are recommended guidelines for restaurant lighting. Sometimes it’s based off of the atmosphere the owner wants to accomplish. Other times it’s based off of the time of day and the meals being served. It can also be a mixture of both.

    While the aesthetics of the lighting is an important aspect, functionality is of higher importance. This means putting the needs of the workers and customers before decorative purposes. Some of the most common choices include track lighting, recessed lighting, utility lighting, wall lighting, pendants, chandeliers, and ceiling fans.

    • Track lighting is a beneficial way to illuminate the majority of the restaurant space. The lighting attached to the track can be pointed in all directions, which is helpful for illuminating the tables, the bar and the lobby all at once.
    • Recessed lighting is typically used in a location that doesn’t need to highlight anything in particular. This general lighting can be found in a location like behind the register.
    • Utility lighting is specifically for areas of high function, such as the kitchen. This task lighting is responsible for illuminating the entire room, which usually consists of many cleaning and preparation stations.
    • Wall lighting is ideal for eye level needs, such as eating and drinking at the table. They’re also commonly used for highlighting the decor on the walls.
    • Pendants can serve as a decorative element, but they’re also a source of overhead lighting for reading menus, enjoying the meal and engaging with others at the table or bar.
    • Chandeliers are more for achieving a specific feel, usually symbolizing elegance. Popular locations include the entrance and the main dining areas.
    • Ceiling fans provide a combination of light and air circulation. These can be utilized inside and on dining patios.

    Lighting plays an important role in a restaurant. Take advantage of the different types of lighting to make the most out of the atmosphere.

    Author: Frank Capasso of Valley Lighting & Home Decor.

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  6. Ramen take over!

    You may have noticed in the last few years a growing popularity in Ramen Noodle styled restaurants. Consumers can’t seem to get enough of the Japanese soup dish, consisting of Chinese-style wheat noodles served in a meat- or fish-based broth, often flavored with soy sauce, miso and topped with sliced pork, dried seaweed, and green onions. Other cultures, such as Vietnamese Restaurants serve similar dishes, called pho. These large bowls of broth and noodles are typically served with basil, bean sprouts and topped with sriracha sauce.

    By and large, most concurs in pho/ramen restaurants have been first and second generation Vietnamese, with a handful of American foodies trying the delectable meal and loving it. Suddenly in the 2000’s buzz on the internet about pho become so strong that is become a “new discovery” by many Americans look for new tastes that was easy, inexpensive and delicious. Consumers loved taking photos of the oversized bowls of soup.

    It has been fifteen years sense the buzz truly stared and the tasty noodle soup has truly taken on a life of its on. People still can’t seem get enough and the restauranteurs who are able to offer authentic pho/ramen can absolutely make a decent profit and expand their bottom line with no problem at all.

    So what’s the bottom line? Why shouldn’t everyone who can cook open there own pho/ramen restaurant? It’s simple, this dish and style of food is becoming increasingly popular to the point that it is too popular. As we all know popularity and hype of any restaurant can die as quickly as it can start. This being said it it is crucial that restaurants offering these food items to keep to the basics and stay to true to the original cooking/ serving styles of the dish.

    As in any authentic cultural food, it is important to learn how to properly cook and serve the food. There are numerous websites where you can find traditional cooking styles, recipes and cooking styles. One we truly love is lovingpho, a resourceful page that will help soup lovers and entrepreneurs alike.

    We look forward to seeing others find that they love this sensational dish as much as we do. So go out there try ramen/ pho and see if it may be a dish that would fit your restaurants brand!

     

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  7. Is the cold brew trend the way to go?

    It seems that the cold brew trend has been hot these last few months, no pun intended. The delectable concoction that is smooth and easy to drink but, hosts a substantial wallop of caffeine. Yes, cold brew is definitely attracting new drinks and converting old ones to love its low level bitterness, acidity and suite sweetness.

    It has become all the rage, and it customers can’t seem to get enough! It is an edgey take on a true classic that has been around for so many years. Cold brew is simple, but extremely time-consuming to prepare. The process to produce a perfect cup of cold brew is to steep ground coffee in cold water for 16 hours or more and then strain it. Since it is near heated, different flavors are extracted than with a hot brew. Bitter flavors tend to be left out or reduced and acid levels are lower, while chocolate-like elements are more pronounced, making cold brew seem sweeter than others.

    You are able to serve cold brew sweetened or unsweetened. It has increasing been served in kegs with nitrogen gas, this north coffee creates a creamier mouthfeel and, if dispense at high enough pressure, comes out with a head that is similar to a stout beer. Because, this coffee offers such a unique tasting experience many consumers have even started using tin their favorite late and cappuccino.

    The question is though, should you serve cold brew in your establishment and is it worth the hassle? Our short answer, its only worth it if your existing customers have shown interest in you supplying the beverage. With its lengthy process it truly is not worth the hassle if you are not going to be able to sell the beverage. It is also must align with your brand, this means if you are a fast casual establishment you may want to think about an alternative menu item than cold brew.

    We welcome those trying to sell cold brew and know that knew menu items are always fun. Make sure that you are able to sell it at a profitable margin, knowing that it will take 16 hours per batch or cold brew you must also realize you can’t go through it as quickly as you would with normal coffee. The great thing about cold brew coffee is that you can always try it and see if it works. If its a hit with your clients stick with it and if not find another delicious coffee delight.

     

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  8. The true importance of true customer service

    How many times have you heard that saying, “The customer is always right.” Or how about, service does more than just serve guests, it is the building blocks that keep customers coming back. This being said if you want more customers you better train your food service professionals and you better make sure that your managers stay focus on the quality of service being executed on a day to day basis.

    The fear of giving subpar service should truly make you worry, it is a growing concern industrywide and the weakness of giving poor service can lead even the nations top brands into the ground. It has become vital to hold your managers accountable on focusing on service standards that will lead to better sales and customer retention.

    Restaurants reporting high turnover rates typically are sadly the ones that give poor service. The reason for this is that staff members are typically not in the establishment long enough to create strong client relationships. On the contrary the top-performing brands are less likely to receive negative service scores on all social media platforms. There are fewer complaints pertaining service, food and/management.

    Too many times as owners we will blame poor service on the market being over saturated with new restaurants, the lack of adequate service professionals or even the tremendous lack of customers on the recession. It is fact that the hospitality industry has been week for years since 2008 and even though the industry has generated positive sales through higher prices, traffic has declined. Customers demand only the highest level of service, rightfully so, the nations average check has climbed 13.5% in the past four years and guests not only demand but, deserve the best!

    It is a key performance indicator that top-performing brands are more likely to have top online review scores. Top brands make service their top priority and consistently train both managers and hourly employees alike. Owners know that it is important not to turn over their managers and keep them happy, well trained and prioritize listening to them if and when something in the restaurant needs reevaluation. Remember your management is your defense line between you and customers, they are the people you should trust and invest in the most!

    To the last point, as owners, you should always be looking into new service techniques, new programs to enhance your service professionals knowledge base and continuously look for the top notch hospital professionals in your area.

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  9. The Importance of Safety Equipment for Restaurants

    emergency-exit-restaurant-supply

    An establishment such as a restaurant typically has a high amount of foot traffic. Between employees and customers, there are many people in one place at one time. While safety is an important element for all types of buildings, there are specific pieces of equipment that are especially important for restaurants.

    A busy kitchen is one of the main reasons restaurants should have a large focus on safety. Some of the items restaurant owners should have in their kitchens include kitchen hood fire suppression systems, fire extinguishers, emergency lights, exhaust fans, thermostats, and fire and smoke detectors.

    Along with this equipment, Restaurant.org also reccomends preventative maintenance and staff training. While having the right equipment is half of the battle, the other half of the battle is maintaining, having backups, and having a properly trained staff who is aware of the establishment’s safety plan.

    As for emergency lights, owners should look for ones that live up to these standards:

    • Highly visible illumination
    • Long LED lighting lifespan
    • Able to withstand damp locations
    • Flame rated thermoplastic

    LED lighting overall is a benefit for restaurants, and not just for safety purposes. They’re eco-friendly, cost-efficient, 100% recyclable, free of toxic chemicals, and durable.

    Along with being aware of the importance of restaurant safety equipment, it’s important to be aware of the laws and regulations, including the ones specific to youth workers. Being that a restaurant position can be a popular first job among youths, the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), laid out guidelines that relate to restaurant equipment. For example, “child labor laws do not permit workers younger than 18 to operate, set up, adjust, clean, oil, or repair power-driven equipment such as meat slicers or bakery mixers.”

    Health-related hazards are another concern for restaurants. There is always a need for washing equipment, refrigeration units, ice machines, preperation tables, freezers, and grills. This may depend on what type of food items are on the menu, but this list can apply to the most basic establishments. In order to prevent bacteria from spreading, tables, work stations and utensils must be sanitized and food items need to remain at their recommended temperatures. If not, both customers and employees are at risk of foodborne illnesses.

    While many of the most important matters are covered above, it’s still advised to review all of the laws and regulations for your specific establishment and state. At the same time, you should implement standards. The standards can include dress code, cleanliness, customer service, and so on. This way, your restaurant will contain everything it needs to be considered a safe, healthy and successful environment.

    Author: Frank Capasso of Valley Lighting & Home Decor.

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  10. Think Outside the Burger - New Fast Casual Restaurant Concepts to Try

    Falafel and fresh vegetables in pita bread on wooden table

    Fast casual food is fun, easy, and done correctly - a great money maker with potential for multiple locations. Burgers and fries have dominated the fast casual scene, along with pizza, for decades, but there's no reason not to branch outside of these well known concepts when looking for your inspiration. Give your customers something new to taste, and talk about - with something a little different than your average burger/fries/milkshake menu.

    Falafel - a beloved staple of the Middle East, falafel is simple street food, consisting of fried chickpeas and sauce wrapped in pita. Simple to execute and delicious, falafel is growing in popularity and would make a great anchor for a fast casual restaurant. Add vine stuffed grape leaves, hummus platters, and gyro to your menu to round it out.

    Ramen - we've talked about ramen before, and we will talk about ramen again. This hot new concept - literally - is sweeping the US, and with good reason. Ramen is almost universally liked, simple to execute, and cost effective. Different toppings to your bowls brings your concept to life. Create a fun, quirky brand identity which honors the Japanese roots of this concept, and watch your sales skyrocket.

    Poke bowls - ramen's new, cool, Western cousin, the poke bowl is Hawaii's answer to sushi, and has the advantage of being very health conscious as well as colorful and attractive. As you're dealing with raw fish, make sure you have the kitchen skills, knives, and prep space to execute this dish safely and accurately, and also advertise that they are gluten free and low fat, yet flavorful - a rare find in fast food.

    Donuts and chicken - this idea won't stand up to the health food test, but it certainly is tasty. A twist on chickens and waffles, donuts and fried chicken is a simple, cartable, and fun restaurant menu idea. This sort of concept may work better in a big city where people want and look for more variety in their offerings, but as both donuts and fried chicken and liked by, again, just about everybody, chances are you'll hit a home run with this fun combo.

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