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  1. Reducing Food Waste

    Reducing Food Waste

    The past couple of years have showcased the trend in making more of an effort to create a positive environmental impact. If you’re not trying to be environmentally conscious, you’ll lose the respect of your market, especially millennials. Reducing your food waste not only helps the environment and puts your food to good use, but it can help your bottom line! Here are some ways that you can use to help reduce your restaurant’s food waste:

    Big Data and Analytics

    Technology is revolutionizing the food industry! Food analytics software allows you to monitor your food and its freshness. This software will alert you when the food is about to go bad so you in turn can either use it right away, or you can find another way to put it to good use instead of throwing it away.

    Packaging

    Temperature-controlled packing is extremely important! When food goes bad, most times it’s because of the packaging it’s in. With new smart packaging technology, all reusable crates and temperature-sensitive items will come with a thermostat that can communicate the temperature in real time. With this, you can now keep track of the temperature of your food items making sure they don’t go to waste.

    Donations

    This seems like a fairly obvious way to reduce your food waste, but with the analytics software mentioned above, you have the ability to spot food that’s going to be wasted before it spoils. If you don’t have a chance to sell it to your customers, you can always donate to a local charity that accepts food donations (as long as you make them aware of the expiration date!).

    Reducing your food waste should be one of your top priorities as a restaurant. It not only helps the environment, but also makes your customers happy, which in turn positively impacts your bottom line!

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  2. Equipment Guide

    Equipment Guide

    As we’ve discussed in past blog posts, commercial equipment is the essential backbone to your restaurant, but it’s also a huge investment. With large investments, comes risk, but we’re here to give you some tips and tricks for when you're in need of new equipment!

    Blue NSF Logo

    If you’re looking for a standard of equipment, you should always make sure the product has an NSF (National Sanitation Foundation) logo printed on the product itself or on the packaging. NSF equipment promises food-safe equipment that is easy to keep clean and can be used in a commercial kitchen. All NSF products are vetted by third-parties in a rigorous process.

    Warranties

    Before you actually purchase anything, you should check to see what the manufacturer offers to back up their products. Malfunctions and service calls can add up quickly, so you want to ensure that the manufacturer offers some type of deal.

    Codes

    Know all your local fire, building, and health codes before you start the buying process. Local codes can vary widely across the country, so something that is admissible in the next town over might be banned at your location. Think about partnering with your local government to assure all the equipment you plan on buying is acceptable.

    Inspect Equipment

    When your equipment first arrives, you should inspect it to make sure all the pieces are accounted for and there is no damage to the equipment. Despite one’s best efforts, products can always be damaged during the shipping process.

    Kitchen equipment will allow you to put your restaurant dreams into motion, but purchasing the wrong equipment can and will slow you down and cause you to lose money (no one wants that!).

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  3. Spice Up Your Snow Day!

    Spice Up Your Snow Day!

    Whether you're at home enjoying your snow day, or you own a local restaurant looking to attract people in the midst of a snowstorm (people always straggle in when you least expect it!), having a boozy cocktail in your back pocket for a snow day is essential. Here are some cocktails perfect for a winter day:

    Winter Margarita

    Basically a traditional margarita, but with an egg white!

    Ingredients:

    • 1 oz. reposado tequila
    • 1 oz. mezcal
    • 1 oz. lime juice
    • .75 oz. simple syrup
    • 1 egg white

    Shake ingredients without ice, and then shake again with ice. Strain into a glass and serve with a salted rim.

    Good Tidings

    Includes traditional winter scents and flavors!

    Ingredients:

    • 5 oz. vodka
    • 1 oz. cointreau
    • 1 oz. lemon juice
    • 1 oz. cranberry juice
    • 1 bar spoon with allspice dram

    Shake the ingredients with ice, then strain into a glass over ice, and top with soda. Garnish with lemon wheel.

    Applejack Sazerac

    Ingredients:

    • 2 oz. apple brandy
    • .25 oz. maple syrup
    • 3 dashes Peychaud’s bitters

    Stir ingredients with ice and then strain into a glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.

    These drinks are delicious ways to warm yourself up on a cold day and to make your snow day a little more fun than originally planned!

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  4. Boozy Thanksgiving

    Boozy Thanksgiving

    Holidays aren’t complete without some alcohol consumption (or a lot!), and what better way to celebrate than to add some turkey day inspired drinks! Ditch the boring old drinks you’re used to and give people more of a reason to enjoy the holidays! Here are some drinks to complement your Thanksgiving dinner (or your restaurant menu):

    Cranberry Champagne Cocktail

    Ingredients:

    • 1 ounce sweetened cranberry juice
    • 1 wedge lime
    • Champagne
    • Frozen cranberries

    In a champagne flute add cranberry juice and a squeeze of lime. Top off the glass with champagne and garnish with 3 or 4 cranberries. Check out the recipe here for more details: https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/tyler-florence/cranberry-champagne-cocktail-recipe-1957530!

    Thanksgiving Seabreeze

    Ingredients:

    • 1 cup orange juice
    • 1 cup cranberry juice
    • 1 cup vodka
    • Mint sprigs

    Mix all liquids into a pitcher filled with ice and pour into glasses and garnish with mint. If you’re feeling extra inspired, you can add a small amount of your Thanksgiving cranberry sauce to the bottom of each glass before filling with mixture! Here is the recipe: https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/michael-chiarello/thanksgivings-a-breeze-seabreezes-recipe-1943360!

    Pumpkin Pie Martini

    Ingredients:

    • ½ ounce Stoli Vanilla
    • 1 ounce Pumpkin Spice liqueur
    • ½ ounce Kahlua
    • ½ ounce Butterscotch Schnapps
    • ½ ounce half-and-half
    • Crushed graham crackers
    • Cinnamon stick

    Add all the liquids into a shaker with ice, shake and strain into a glass with crushed graham crackers, and garnish with a cinnamon stick! Here's the recipe: https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/pumpkin-pie-martini-recipe-1958974! We love us some pumpkin pie—this is a great opportunity to have it in the form of a martini and in the form of a pie in the same day!

    Use the holidays as an excuse to experiment with and create some tasty drinks!

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  5. Ice Sculpting

    Ice Sculpting

    We’re always talking about the type of ice that should be used in drinks, but what about some other interesting ice uses? Ice sculptures are a great way to use ice in an expressive and creative way to create beautiful works of art (even if they melt within a few hours). Ice sculptures can take nearly any form, especially if you’ve hired an artist with lots of experience to create the sculpture.

    These sculptures usually cost $300 and up and are becoming more and more popular as decorations for events. Ice sculptures are more often than not used as centerpieces for chilled appetizers and drinks, but companies also use them as an extravagant way to display the company logo. At the right temperature, these sculptures can last for months and for a party at room temperature, you’ll probably have a window of 2-3 hours before it begins to melt.

    Depending on the size and difficulty of what is being created, ice sculptures may be made from multiple blocks of ice used together or from one block of ice. They can become extremely heavy very quickly, which is something else the artist needs to be aware of when making and transporting the sculpture to the venue.

    Ice sculpting began more than 4,000 years ago with the Inuits of North America building igloos meant for shelter and survival. Several years later, the Chinese built lanterns out of ice. Building with ice has evolved from a survival tactic to a decorative purpose and now, there are many competitions and events held in the colder parts of the world to display these ice sculptures.

    Ice isn’t just used to chill your drink, but also as an art form! 

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  6. Tasty Thanksgiving Treats

    Tasty Thanksgiving Treats

    Holiday season is upon us! The holiday season is a busy time of year (and you want it to be for your restaurant too!). First up is Thanksgiving: you want to think about offering Thanksgiving inspired dishes to your menu in the hopes of getting some positive buzz surrounding your restaurant. You do all this with the hopes of increasing foot traffic. Here are some Thanksgiving inspired dishes for your menu (or if you want them for your dinner table on Thanksgiving Day):

    Sausage Fennel Stuffing

    An Italian-inspired Thanksgiving stuffing dish, this dish adds chunks of Italian sweet sausage to fennel and onions for a great stuffing twist!

    Ingredients:

    • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
    • 1 pound sweet Italian sausage
    • 2 small fennel bulbs
    • 2 medium sized red onions
    • 4 thyme sprigs
    • ¼ cup of extra-virgin olive oil
    • 2 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
    • 1 teaspoon black pepper
    • 1 pound sourdough
    • 2 ½ cups unsalted chicken stock

    Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and grease a baking pan with butter. Place the sausage, fennel, thyme, and onions into a single layer on a baking sheet. Drizzle with oil, sprinkle with pepper, and bake in preheated oven until brown (20-25 minutes). Place the sourdough bread (separated into smaller chunks) on a baking sheet and bake at 375 degrees until lightly toasted and let cool for 5 minutes. Whisk together the eggs and chicken stock in a bowl, and then add the bread and sausage mixture. Then add the remaining pepper and salt and scrape into prepared baking dish that was greased with butter earlier. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and let sit for 45 minutes at room temperature. Then bake at 375 degrees until heated through (about 45 minutes). Let stand and then serve.

    Chile Infused Mashed Potatoes

    Add Chile to this familiar Thanksgiving side dish for a spicy flair!

    Ingredients:

    • 3 guajillo chiles
    • 3 dried chiles de árbol
    • 2 ½ cups of half-and-half
    • 5 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes
    • 7 teaspoons kosher salt
    • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

    Place chiles in a saucepan over medium and cook, stirring until lightly toasted (5 minutes). Stir in the half-and-half, and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to very low and let the mixture sit for 30 minutes. Then pour the chile infused half-and-half through a strainer over a bowl. Next, place the potatoes in a saucepan and add cold water to cover by 1 inch and bring to a boil. Add 1 teaspoon of salt, reduce heat to medium, and let simmer for about 25 minutes. Then drain the potatoes over a colander. Stir together butter and the chile mix over medium until butter is melted and remove from the heat. Put the potatoes through a potato ricer into the saucepan and stir until combined. Season with the remaining salt and serve!

    Think about adding twists that fit the theme of your restaurant to classic Thanksgiving dishes, and your customers will be impressed!

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  7. Grandiose Grand Openings!

    Grandiose Grand Openings!

    You’ve got everything in place and you’re ready to open your doors to customers…but how do you get that crowd to come to the opening of your restaurant? Grand openings are more than just a fun party, but part of an important marketing plan. You want to get the details nailed down beforehand and execute those details to stand out. Here are some ideas for your own grand opening:

    Soft Opening

    To work out all the potential hiccups before engaging with a huge crowd, hold a soft opening for family and friends. This soft opening allows you to get honest feedback from the people closest to you and to fix anything that might go wrong.

    Offer Perks

    As we’ve discussed in earlier blog posts, people LOVE free things! Pick some of your favorite appetizers on the menu and offer them to guests. You should also have some free merchandise (sunglasses, t-shirts, etc.) made with your name and logo to serve as a reminder of your restaurant whenever people see this merchandise. Walking marketers!

    Invite Influencers

    Social media influencers will work in your favor! Whether they’re local, regional, or if you’re lucky enough national, influencers will get your name out to tons of people who you might not have reached otherwise. You can also reach out to local politicians and local groups and clubs that are aligned with the type of food you’re offering. Word of mouth still exists and never hurt anybody!

    Charities

    For your grand opening, partner with a charity in some way. This will draw people who not only are affiliated with the charity, but those in the community who are impressed by your support. This partnership will reap benefits for both parties, and it helps bring attention to a great cause of your choosing.

    After all the hard work you've put into building a restaurant, grand openings can come as an added stressor, but they don’t have to be if you use some of these tips!

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  8. Top POS Systems

    Top POS Systems

    POS (Point of Sale) systems are a necessity for your restaurant, and without it, you’ll probably find yourself highly disorganized. POS systems streamline many tasks to make things easier for yourself and your employees.

    Functions:

    • Track inventory
    • Provide table management
    • Faster billing process
    • Track employee activity and performance
    • Create loyalty programs

    And much more!

    The right POS system for your restaurant will make your life significantly easier and allow your restaurant to run smoother and at a quicker pace. While pricing factors into the decision, you should try pick a system that’s best for the long-run.

    Top Rated Systems

    TouchBistro

    This POS system offers two types of software giving you the ability to choose which is best for your business. Their Full Service program is great for restaurants, bars, nightclubs, etc., while their Quick Service program is great for café’s, bakeries, food trucks, etc. TouchBistro is easy-to-use and designed for the Apple iPad.

    Revel

    Revel comes with the easy ability to incorporate discounts, gift cards, online ordering, and loyalty programs because these features are built into their platform. This system is great for management because it delivers information during real-time from multiple locations at once to help make quick, informed decisions.

    Toast

    This system is best for places that want the ability to streamline their ordering and payment process. This system is mobile and allows servers to spend more time at the table with guests. Toast also allows for side-ordering and payment by customers to increase the efficiency of service.

    There are a variety of fantastic POS systems out there, but you should take the time to research which might be best for the type of restaurant you own. Finding a system that caters to the needs of your restaurant is extremely beneficial and helps make your restaurant run as smooth as possible and, ultimately, become more successful.

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  9. Online Review Mania

    Online Review Mania

    Online reviews are the first things people look to when choosing a potential restaurant to satisfy their hunger. Unfortunately, people notice negative reviews and take those into account more than positive reviews. Here are some ways to ensure you’re doing everything you can in regards to your online ratings:

    Responsiveness

    Responding to all reviews, even those that are negative in sentiment, is extremely helpful for your business. Engagement with consumers gives off the perception that you care and you want to give your customers the best service and experience they can get. Responding within 7 days of a post is best practice and for some negative comments, you should default to direct messaging them to make the person feel special.

    Star Ratings

    Actual star ratings matter! People love some great food photos, but they care more about the number rating you’re getting. People are more trusting of 4-5 star restaurants and sometimes will stray from eating at those with even 3 stars because of the actual rating.

    Facebook Matters

    While Yelp and TripAdvisor are considered the top places to view restaurant reviews, Facebook reviews are becoming more important and a more popular platform to visit for reviews. Facebook has the highest growth rate for viewing restaurant reviews in the past year, so make sure to monitor your Facebook page!

    Online reviews can make or break a restaurant because people are relying on those reviews when making their decision about whether to visit or not. Your online presence shouldn't only be limited to your website, but rather anything with your name attached to it!

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  10. Promoting Without Discounts

    Promoting Without Discounts

    Everyone loves free food, but eventually you’re not going to be able to sustain giving away discounts forever before you begin to lose money! How do you keep customers happy without using discounts all the time? You want to promote your restaurant, but how else should you? Here are some ideas:

    Community Sponsorships

    Partnering with others in your community creates opportunities that you never knew existed before. Especially in smaller towns, sponsoring local sports teams is a great way to garner attention from families. This will show community spirit, while also getting you some great publicity!

    Events

    You should consider getting your restaurant involved with all types of events in your area: fairs, parades, etc. These kinds of events typically gather large crowds and they provide a great opportunity for you to get your food out to the public without anyone having to step foot in your physical location.

    Partnerships

    Similar to sponsorships, partnerships are mutually beneficial to all partners involved. Partnerships can exist between completely different markets, but you’ll still be getting some sort of benefit. We just warn you that you want to make sure you’re partnering with a brand with values that align closely with yours.

    There are plenty of ways to get your restaurant on people’s radars without constantly giving away discounts—you just have to get creative and have fun with it! People appreciate efforts to please them and will jump at opportunities that benefit them. These opportunities don’t always have to be helping people save a buck, but maybe providing them with food at events or hosting a live band!

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