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Chefs

Do 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.


4 years ago
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The 50 Best Restaurant Experts and Chefs to Follow in 2018

restaurant experts 2018

It's that time of year again. 

Each year, we strive to equip restaurant owners with the resources they need for a successful new year. 

What better way to stay on top of things than to follow this list of restaurant experts – the owners, chefs, and writers who are shaping the industry?

2017 saw a paradigm shift for many restaurants. Diners are still eating out, but their preferences have changed in many ways. Everything from the menu items they are demanding, to the ways they want to place orders, are new to many restaurant professionals. 

Restaurateurs, in order to stay on top, have been forced to respond – sometimes reactively. 

Following this list of restaurant experts will help you stay on top of the industry, and enable you to make proactive, positive decisions for your business.  

Making the List of 2018's Leading Food & Restaurant Experts

For the past two years, we've made lists for the Top 30 Experts and Top 35 Experts to follow, respectively. This year, we're upping the ante to include the 50 Best Restaurant and Food Experts to Follow in 2018.

While you'll definitely see some familiar faces, read through the list and see if you can spot who's new this year. I believe their presence on your timeline will be most welcome.

To be included on this list, one must be:

  • A chef or restaurant owner.
  • A restaurant chain professional.
  • A restaurant consultant.
  • A trailblazing food or restaurant celeb.
  • A dedicated food blogger.
  • A reporter or thought leader in the food and/or restaurant industry.

Additionally, these restaurant leaders must have been active on Twitter within the past month and have more than 1,000 followers. Their social reach must be great, and they must post excellent restaurant content about kitchen management, industry news, food, and/or restaurant marketing. 

The following is an alphabetical list, by first name, of the most knowledgeable professionals in the restaurant industry.

Open up your Twitter account and be sure to follow these industry professionals for some great day-to-day restaurant insights! 

The Top 50 Restaurant Influencers 

aaron.pngAarón Sánchez

Award-Winning Chef, TV Personality, Cookbook Author, and Philanthropist
FOX's MasterChef / Author / Dad / mexiCAN
@AaronSanchez - Website
 


 

adam.pngAdam Goldberg

Editor-in-Chief, Drift and Ambrosia
@alifewortheating on Instagram/Facebook and @lifewortheating on Snapchat.
@LifeWorthEating - Website


 

Alan Liddle alan.png

Data & Event Content Director, Nation's Restaurant News
Data and event content director. At Nation's Restaurant News since 1984. Also, researcher for Supermarket News Top 75. Formerly: daily/weekly news; restaurants.
@AJ_NRN - Website


 

Allie Tetreaultallie2.png

Food and Restaurant Blogger, Toast
Content Marketing Manager at Toast, Journalist, Blogger, Acapella alto, Wheaton College Grad. Entertainment Buff. 
@aktetreault - Website


 

allison-1.pngAllison Aubrey

Food Writer, James Beard Award Winner
NPR Correspondent, PBS NewsHour contributor, mom, aspiring yogi, lavender lover.
@AubreyNPRFood - Website


 

carlson.pngAndrew Carlson 

CEO of Carson Hospitality
On a mission to bring back the customer experience to restaurants in America. Restaurant Speaker. Author. CEO of Carlson Hospitality.
@andrew1110 - Website


 

bourdain.pngAnthony Bourdain 

Chef, Author, and Television Personality
Enthusiast
@Bourdain - Website


 

april.pngApril Bloomfield

Chef
Holds a Michelin star at two restaurants.
@AprilBloomfield - Website


 

cast.pngBarbara Castiglia

Executive Editor, Modern Restaurant Management
Executive Editor, Modern Restaurant Management. [email protected]
@bcastiglia44 - Website


 

brad.pngBradley Toft 

The Restaurant Specialist
The Restaurant Guy. Husband, Dad, and a work in progress. Risk Specialist at Newman & Tucker Insurance.
@BradleyToft - Website


 

Bret ThornBret Thorn 

Food Writer, Nation's Restaurant News
Follow the adventures of a New York City food writer. Senior F&B editor, NRN & Restaurant Hospitality.
@FoodWriterDiary - Website
 


 

bruce.pngBruce Irving

Chef and Restaurateur
Founder SPM Marketing: The #1 Digital marketing platform for pizzerias  | Speaker | Podcaster | Host of the top rated SPM Podcast : Family First 
@Irvingmedia - Website


 

cheryl2.pngCheryl Bachelder

Former CEO, Popeyes® Louisiana Kitchen, Inc.
Former Popeyes CEO focused on developing purpose-driven leaders who evidence competence and character in all aspects of their lives. Author of Dare To Serve.
@CABachelder - Website


 

chill.pngChris Hill 

Chef, Bach Kitchen 
Leadership and Branding Restaurant Guy - Entrepreneur - Author + 2X TEDx Speaker. (Chris was also a guest on Toast's podcast, The Garnish! Listen here.)
@bachkitchen Website


 

christina.pngChristina Tosi

Chef, Author, Television Personality, and Owner of Momofoku Milk Bar
Hardbody for life.
@ChristinaTosi - Website


 

dan.pngDan Pashman

Host and Creator, The Sporkful Podcast
Creator/host of The Sporkful podcast at Stitcher and the Cooking Channel web series You're Eating It Wrong and The Snackdown. An eater, not a foodie.
@TheSporkful - www.danielboulud.com


 

danny meyerDanny Meyer

CEO, Union Square Hospitality Group
CEO Union Square Hospitality Group. Founder Shake Shack. Always Setting the Table.
@dhmeyer - Website


 

dg.pngDave Gonynor 

CEO/CO-Founder, That's Biz
Helping restaurants, bars, and chains attract new customers and drive repeat visits.
@thatsbiz - Website


 

henkes.pngDavid Henkes

Advisory Group Senior Principal, ‎Technomic Inc.
Global food/beverage industry trendwatcher, consultant, & connoisseur. Senior Principal at . Named 1 of top  experts to follow in 2017.
@davidhenkes - Website


 

dsp.pngDavid Scott Peters

The Restaurant Expert
I own a coaching company teaching independent restaurant owners how to use systems to be successful and profitable. We offer coaching, workshops and software.
@RestaurantXpert - Website


 

dev.pngDevra First

Food Writer, Boston Globe
Boston Globe food writer and restaurant critic. Come for the rabbis, stay for the food.
@devrafirst - Website


 

db2017.pngDonald Burns

The Restaurant Coach™
The Restaurant Coach™, industry expert at  and Toast. Former USAF Pararescue. My motto: All business problems are really people problems in disguise.
@donaldburns - Website


 

eric.pngEric Cacciatore

Host, RestaurantUnstoppable Podcast
Host, RestaurantUnstoppable Podcast. Successful hospitality professionals telling their stories of success and sharing their mentorship.
@EricCacciatore - Website


 

gerry.pngGerry Ludwig

Chef, Gordon Food Service
Representing Gordon Food Service through culinary research and development, restaurant trend tracking, food writing and public speaking.
@GFSChefGerry - Website


 

gordon.pngGordon Ramsay

Celebrity Chef, Restaurateur, and Television Personality 
Check out an awfully British experience in the heart of London York and Albany this festive season.
@GordonRamsay - Website


 

graha.pngGraham Elliot

Chef
Chef, Restaurateur, Cookbook Author, TV Personality
@grahamelliot - Website


 

heather.pngHeather Lalley

Editor, Restaurant Business Magazine
Editor at Restaurant Business Magazine, new restaurant concepts. Medill + Washburne Culinary grad. Previously at Spokesman Review. 
@flourgrrrl Website


 

hudson riehleHudson Riehle 

Senior Vice President, National Restaurant Association
National Restaurant Association - SVP, Research & Knowledge Group
@HudsonRiehle - Website


 

kenji.pngJ. Kenji Lopez-Alt

Author and Chief Culinary Advisor, Serious Eats
Stay-at-Home Dad. Author of The Food Lab. Serious Eats (NYC), Wursthall, and Backhaus (both San Mateo). Husband to Adriana. Feminist. 
@kenjilopezalt Website


 

oikle.pngJaime Oikle

Owner, RunningRestaurants.com 
Owner, Restaurant Report and  - Helping Restaurants Succeed and Profit
@JaimeOikle Website


 

oliver.pngJamie Oliver

Celebrity Chef and Restaurateur 
The latest from Jamie Oliver HQ.
@jamieoliver Website


 

jean.pngJean Lee

Restaurant Social Media & Events Consultant
Restaurant PR + Social Media + Events | Food + Drink + Travel | NYC Native
@jeaniusNYC - Website


 

broughton.pngJenna Broughton

Freelance Food and Restaurant Writer
Made in Florida. Former American Idol auditionee. Onetime sweepstakes winner. Freelance writer covering impact of tech & policy on food & agriculture.
@JennaBroughton - Website


 

telesca.pngJenna Telesca

Editor-in-Chief, Nation's Restaurant News
Editor-in-Chief of Nation's Restaurant News. News tips? [email protected]
@JennaTelesca - Website


 

jim-1.pngJim Sullivan

CEO and Founder, Sullivision.com
All about restaurant & retail Leadership Strategy at  Author: Multiunit Leadership & The Fundamentals. Speaker, Writer, Omnivore, Dad, Lad, Grad.
@Sullivision - Website


 

jonathan mazeJonathan Maze

Executive Editor, Restaurant Business Magazine
Executive Editor with Restaurant Business Magazine. Egghead. Married up to Haila Maze. Opinions pre-approved by a blue ribbon panel of experts.
@jonathanmaze Website


 

waxman.pngJonathan Waxman

Restaurateur and Chef
Chef and owner of Barbuto & Jams NYC, Adele's Nashville and Brezza Cucina Atlanta
@chefjwaxman Website


 

jose.pngJosé Andrés

Author and James Beard Award–Winning Chef
When they go low, we go high...
@chefjoseandres - Website


 

julie.pngJulie Jargon

Restaurant Reporter, Wall Street Journal
Wall Street Journal restaurant reporter, mom of three. LA via Chicago via Denver. Hiking, running, West Coast rap.
@juliejargon - Website


 

ken burginKen Burgin

Founder, Profitable Hospitality 
Helping restaurants, cafes, clubs & hotels to be more profitable - marketing, management, cost-control, training, staff. Plus the Profitable Hospitality podcast.
@KenBurgin - Website


 

keith.pngKeith Nunes

Executive Editor, Food Business News

4 years ago
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4 Distinct Restaurant Themes (And What Customers Think of Them)

restaurant themes

Deciding on the perfect restaurant theme is no small task. It takes a careful blend of creativity, planning, and insight into the market where you intend to open your business.

There are countless restaurant themes to choose from; whatever you decide to go with will be unique to you, your business, and your clientele.

While diners do cite ambiance as an important element of their dining experience, it’s not everything. Cool lighting fixtures and intricate murals won’t make up for excessive noise, poor service, or low quality food. 

Here are four real examples of restaurants with distinct themes, accompanied by real online reviews of their businesses.

1. Bohemian With An Edge

restaurant theme ideas

A bohemian-themed restaurant is a great way to take your guests back in time, or transport them to parts unknown around the world.

Beatnik, located in Chicago, is designed to resemble the Bohemian lifestyle of 1950’s America and Europe. They incorporate exotic music, lush enteriors, and elements of old world elegance to bring guests back to the time of Kerouac and Ginsberg. 

What Their Customers Say

Alka Maheshwari, a Google local guide, writes “A beautiful place in West Town. The decor alone is worth the visit: ornately carved wooden panels to the opulent chandeliers to the checkerboard floor. Multiple small plates and sides on the menu making it easier to order a variety of dishes. All three sections of the establishment have their own charm.” 

Hunter G, another Google local guide, has a different opinion on the vibe.  Accompanying his two star review, he writes, “Horrible hostess staff. Requested a nice table because it was a special event in the reservation. She sat us at a high top in the bar area. Inside is really artsy and the atmosphere is awesome.

What Can We Learn From Beatnik?

Beatnik’s bohemian vibe is counter-culture coolness, but an experience with poor service is always sure to ruin a night out.

2. Locally Sourced

Incorporating your values into your restaurant's theme can be a great way to connect with customers on a deeper level.
The Marshal, in New York City, is a great example of a locally-sourced, sustainability-focused restaurant that has oriented their entire business operations to reflect their values. By emphasizing the importance of locally-sourced ingredients, The Marshal sends a message to customers that they support their community, value local small businesses, and want to protect the health of the environment and their customers. They source all of their menu items from local farmers, local wineries, and local distilleries to reduce carbon emissions when shipping. 

restaurant theme

What Their Customers Say

Noah Choi writes, “Quite possibly the best burger I have ever had: smoky flavor, very juicy, and with a bun that was literally oven-fresh.” 

Bob Kirksey, a Google local guide, writes, “Farm to table at its finest. I travel 230 days a year. Good health makes my living. Food quality and tremendous flavor are what I seek.”

Susan Rosenthal, another Google local guide, writes, “A delicious gem of Farm to Table scrumptiousness.”

What Can We Learn From The Marshal?

 Supporting your local community is always a great restaurant theme and business practice. No Farms, No Food, after all. 

3. Keep It Simple

restaurant theme

Centering your restaurant theme around one food item is a simple and effective branding tactic. It’s also a great way to generate repeat business with customers who will view you as their “go-to” for that specific product. 

At Bang Bang Pie & Biscuits in Chicago, the name says it all; pies and biscuits are their game.

What Their Customers Say

Matthew Martin, a Google local guide, writes, “The Key Lime was probably the best I’ve ever had!

Another reviewer's experience was a bit of a mixed bag. They write, “Food was good, not great. The biscuits were the best I’ve had at any restaurant period. Servings are terribly undersized, flavor was good.

What Can We Learn From Bang Bang Pie & Biscuits?

Keeping your theme and menu simple can be a successful strategy, but it’s nothing if the quality of your product is so-so. 

4. Vintage Upscale

resturant dining themes

If you want to incorporate some upscale flair in your restaurant theme, attention to detail is key. 

Invest in some fancy bells and whistles to make your customers feel utterly aristocratic.

El Gaucho and AQUA by El Gaucho, both in Seattle, have a taste for the finer things. In addition to jazz on the piano and top-of-the-line service, this upscale restaurant serves a 28-day dry-aged steak and has a classy tuxedo staff. 

What Their Customers Say

Jeanie writes, “The food and the view were amazing. The service was awful. We were there to celebrate our anniversary and our-less-than-attentive waiter didn’t add to the experience. Maybe they don’t care since their tip is already included in your bill.

Here’s how El Gaucho responded: “Thank you for taking the time to review AQUA, Jeanie. While we are happy to hear you enjoyed the views and food we are terribly sorry to hear that you experienced sub par service. We strive to create an all-around memorable visit and we apologize we were wide of the mark in this regard.

Jonji, another Facebook reviewer, writes, “Not my first rodeo here, and I must say service and food are always top notch!

El Gaucho’s response: “Glad to hear it Jonji. Hope to see you again soon!

What Can We Learn From El Gaucho?

Customer relationship management is essential to the success of your business. Responding to both positive and negative reviews, like El Gaucho does, is an easy way to show existing and potential customers alike and that you value their input, and their business. 

If You Only Take One Thing Away From This Article...

Creating a phenomenal experience for your guests is so much more than just having a really cool restaurant theme. Didn't your mom teach you to never judge a book by its cover?

Your goal should be to have every guest walk away with great memories they’ll cherish and forever associate with your business. 

This article is compliments of Toast.

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

4 years ago
1 view(s)

Recipe: Pumpkin Gnocchi

Pumpkin Gnocchi

Here in Minnesota, we’re in that season now where fall is fully upon us and we’re starting to get days that require our Fall Selves to show up. Full force. Wearing sweaters. Swapping iced coffees for hot ones. Raking leaves out of our yards (I have done this zero times).

When my Fall Self shows up to the party, it does not show up empty-handed. It says: I see you, Sweaters. I see you, Hot Coffees. I see you, People Who Rake. And it says: I am going to feed you something yummy.

Hints:

  • Pumpkin
  • Butter
  • Sage
  • Garlic
  • Parmesan

Pumpkin Gnocchi:

Sage Butter Sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons Land O Lakes® Salted Butter in Half Sticks
  • a few sage leaves and a smashed clove of garlic
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 tablespoon heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup starchy water (leftover from boiling the gnocchi)
  1. Potato Prep: Bake the potato – see notes – and pull off the skin. Let the potato rest for a while to cool down. Once it’s cool enough to handle, grate it until you have about 1 1/2 cups of very fine potato shreds.
  2. Gnocchi Dough: Mix potato shreds with pumpkin puree. Measure flour onto a clean surface and put the potato/pumpkin mixture in the center. Make a well and crack your egg into it. Sprinkle salt on top. Grab a fork and whisk up the egg real quick. Using your hands, mix all ingredients into a dough. Don’t overmix. When it starts to come together, form the dough into a mostly-smooth, rounded little loaf.
  3. Gnocchi Prep: Cut off slices of the mound and roll each one into a long rope. Cut the rope into bite-sized pieces. Place the gnocchi pieces on a plate (make sure they’ve got a little flour coating so they don’t stick).
  4. Cooking the Gnocchi: Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add the gnocchi, carefully, one at a time, to the water. You may need to work in batches. When the gnocchi rise to the top of the pot of boiling water, immediately remove them with a slotted spoon. Set aside. Melt your butter in a large nonstick skillet. Pan fry the gnocchi, undisturbed, to get one side lightly crispy and leave the other side soft. Remove from pan and set aside to wait for sauce.
  5. Butter Sauce: In the same pan, add butter, sage leaves, and garlic clove. Let the garlic and sage cook for a few minutes over low heat. When the sage leaves are starting to get crispy, remove from heat. Remove garlic as well. When it’s melted, add the flour and whisk. Add the heavy cream and whisk. Add the starchy water slowly, whisking to make a sauce that is the consistency you want. Toss with gnocchi, top with sage leaves and Parmesan, and BE HAPPY AND PROUD BECAUSE LOOK WHAT YOU MADE! Now pour yourself a glass of wine and feast.
4 years ago
1 view(s)

Advice from Chefs, for Chefs

anthony bourdain

Being a chef isn't easy. But is creative, passionate, and - for those at the top - a very lucrative game indeed.

Here are some words of advice from top chefs, to chefs everywhere.

Bobby Flay (Bobby Flay Restaurant Group): don't cut corners

"A lot of times I will strip new cooks of their 'tricks' for getting food to the plate to make sure every step is taken to get it right."

Daniel Holzman (The Meatball Shop): taste is king

"Always ask yourself why you're doing something that particular way. We can all learn how to do things, but if you figure out why, you will be way ahead of the game. And remember, if it doesn't taste good, nothing else matters. Taste is first."

Michael Ferraro (Delicatessen): take your profession seriously

“It takes a similar amount of time to become a chef as it does to become a doctor. To get the executive title on your coat, you need to be prepared to train and study in the right establishments for eight to 10 years before being fully able to run your own show. I feel that recent culinary school graduates these days are too eager to prematurely run their own restaurants.”

Anthony Bourdain (Author/TV Host/Chef): be in shape

Am I too fat to be a chef? Another question you should probably ask yourself.

This is something they don’t tell you at admissions to culinary school, either—and they should. They’re happy to take your money if you’re five foot seven inches and two hundred fifty pounds, but what they don’t mention is that you will be at a terrible, terrible disadvantage when applying for a job in a busy kitchen. As chefs know (literally) in their bones (and joints), half the job for the first few years—if not the entirety of your career—involves running up and down stairs (quickly), carrying bus pans loaded with food, and making hundreds of deep-knee bends a night into low-boy refrigerators. In conditions of excruciatingly high heat and humidity of a kind that can cause young and superbly fit cooks to falter. There are the purely practical considerations as well: kitchen work areas—particularly behind the line— being necessarily tight and confined . . . Bluntly put, can the other cooks move easily around your fat ass? I’m only saying it. But any chef considering hiring you is thinking it. And you will have to live it.

If you think you might be too fat to hack it in a hot kitchen? You probably are too fat. You can get fat in a kitchen—over time, during a long and glorious career. But arriving fat from the get-go? That’s a hard—and narrow—row to hoe.

If you’re comforting yourself with the dictum “Never trust a thin chef,” don’t. Because no stupider thing has ever been said. Look at the crews of any really high-end restaurants and you’ll see a group of mostly whippet-thin, under-rested young pups with dark circles under their eyes: they look like escapees from a Japanese prison camp—and are expected to perform like the Green Berets.

If you’re not physically fit? Unless you’re planning on becoming a pastry chef, it is going to be very tough for you. Bad back? Flat feet? Respiratory problems? Eczema? Old knee injury from high school? It sure isn’t going to get any better in the kitchen.

6 years ago
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