Prepare Your Restaurant for the Holiday Season

November 8th, 2016
5 Nyc Bars And Restaurants With Crazy Christmas Decor December 8 - Best Christmas Accessories

5 Nyc Bars And Restaurants With Crazy Christmas Decor December 8 – Best Christmas Accessories

Everyone knows that the holiday season represents a prodigious boon for retailers. All across the country, big-box stores and mom-and-pop shops alike rake in a reported 20 to 30 percent of their total annual sales in the period between Black Friday and Christmas. This is a significant portion of any bottom line.

But retailers aren’t the only ones who benefit from the holidays. Restaurants like yours can also experience a huge increase in customers and sales, either through direct promotion of holiday specials or via residual foot traffic from nearby malls and shopping centers. The catch is, you have to be ready to handle the upcoming surge in a way that is least disruptive to standard operations. Towards that end, here are some tips on how to prepare your restaurant for the holiday season.

  • Get organized: Planning ahead is crucial for meeting the demands of the holiday rush, so getting organized should be your first step. Reviewing your reservation system (or implementing a new one), evaluating your available personnel and planning key shifts, and ordering extra inventory are just a few items that should be on your to-do list.
  • Hire short-term help: Being overstaffed during the holidays is far preferable to the alternative, which is why you should start looking for seasonal help now. Depending on the size of your restaurant and services provided, you may want to consider adding kitchen hands, waitstaff, banquet servers, and delivery drivers to the roster for the next couple of months.
  • Inventory smallwares and check equipment for usability: More customers means you’ll require faster turnover of smallwares (dishes, glasses, cutlery, etc.) and will have your ovens, dishwashers, fryers, ice machines, and food warming stations working overtime. Inventory smallwares now to make sure you have sufficient quantities to serve larger crowds and inspect your commercial restaurant equipment to see if any repairs or replacements are needed.
  • Consider temporarily expanding your services: To really cash in on the season, consider adding services that you don’t normally offer. These may include home and office deliveries, full-service catering for offsite events, onsite parties, and providing to-go sides, pies, and other desserts for customers to enjoy at their own holiday dinners.
  • Sell gift cards or gift certificates: Gift cards and certificates are not only a blessing for people seeking last-minute stocking stuffers, but also a way to continue driving traffic after the holidays. Be sure to have gift cards or gift certificates available, and train your staff to suggest a purchase to every customer.

A strong holiday season can push your restaurant into the black or turn a good year into a great one, but the benefits aren’t automatic. It takes a lot of time and effort to prepare for the influx of customers and provide them with outstanding service, so follow the tips listed here to get started.

Celebrate National Dessert Month

October 4th, 2016

oct-national-dessert-monthOctober is National Dessert Month and features a number of specialty days sprinkled throughout, including National Angel Food Cake Day (October 10), National Pumpkin Pie Day (October 12), National Chocolate Cupcake Day (October 18), and National Boston Cream Pie Day (October 23). With desserts taking center stage all month long, there’s no better time to showcase your restaurant’s tastiest treats and satisfy every sweet-toothed patron that walks through the doors. Here are a few ideas for organizing and presenting your dessert offerings for the month.

By seasonal fruits

Incorporating seasonal fruits into different dishes is a great way to shake up the dessert menu while taking advantage of the freshest produce available. Apples, pears, figs, and cranberries are all in season, so get those apple pies, poached pears, homemade fig bars, and cranberry coffee cakes into your True Refrigerator display case to attract attention and drive after-dinner sales.

By nationwide popularity

Another idea for celebrating National Dessert Month is to provide customers with a selection of the most popular desserts as ranked by nationwide surveys. According to one such survey, current favorites include apple pie, carrot cake, cupcakes, and Jell-O. You can even present these desserts in countdown fashion by beginning with the No. 10 entry (cheesecake), keeping it on offer for a few days, and then progressing down the list until you get to No. 1 (fudge).

By customers’ expectations

If you serve a more traditional minded customer base, then simply meeting their expectations might be the smartest way to approach National Dessert Month. This could mean keeping extra servings of chocolate mousse in the refrigerated display, whipping up a sizable batch of tapioca pudding in a commercial cook pot, or making sure everyone’s favorite pumpkin pie is always in abundance.

By the calendar

As mentioned above virtually every day in October celebrates a different confection, so if you’re striving for variety in your dessert menu, just follow the calendar. Doing so will take you through everything from Apple Betty to Yorkshire Pudding, brandied fruit, caramel apples, and frappes, a journey that is certain to appeal to conventional and adventurous palates alike.

Whether your restaurant is already well-known for its desserts or you want to focus on popularizing this part of your menu to help increase revenues, you should be excited for October. Take advantage of National Dessert Month by using the above ideas to celebrate all things sweet and gooey with your customers!

Think Outside the Pumpkin Spice: Alternative Fall Flavors

September 20th, 2016

fall-flavorsNow that summer is giving way to fall, it’s once again time for seasonal menu changes. Many restaurants and cafes will simply offer trendy pumpkin spice versions of traditional food and beverage favorites and call it a day, but we find that approach to be very limiting. There are far too many other terrific fall flavors out there to stop at just pumpkin spice, so we encourage you to find a way to add these classic alternatives to your new menu.

Apple

Apples are an incredibly versatile fruit that pair well with other flavors and can be served up in a variety of ways. For example, apple cinnamon is wonderfully comforting in breakfast foods like pancakes, waffles, and cereal, and also goes nicely in tea. Apple based desserts are a no-brainer in the fall, so be sure to consider apple pie, caramel apple cake, and apple strudel for your menu. And of course nothing beats warm apple cider on chilly fall days. Brew up a batch and keep it ready to serve (with or without alcohol) in a Bunn hot beverage dispenser for a guaranteed crowd pleaser.

Butternut squash

With its creamy texture and nutty flavor, butternut squash is a perennial fall favorite that can liven up everything from appetizers to entrees. Go-to recipes include a hearty butternut squash chicken stew, butternut squash and kale salad, and butternut squash mac and cheese.

Regular pumpkin

It seems that the pumpkin spice trend has completely pushed regular pumpkin off the radar, which is unfortunate for anyone who loves that satisfyingly savory flavor. Bring it back to your menu in its original form by adding pumpkin cubes to salads, pastas, and chili, or using it as the key ingredient in cookies, cakes, pies, and other desserts. Don’t forget that pureed pumpkin also makes an excellent soup, so find a recipe you like and whip up a huge batch with the help of a Groen table top cooking kettle.

Maple

If you only use maple in syrup form on top of pancakes and waffles, then you’re missing out on the delicious sweetness this key fall ingredient can bring to many other dishes. Maple is perhaps best used as a glaze for desserts such as cakes, doughnuts, and pastries, as well as meats such as ham, bacon, and pork, but is also ideal for flavoring butters and jams. And once you add a touch of maple to yellow pea soup, wild rice soup, or sweet potato soup, you’ll never go back!

Give your customers something more exciting to look forward to this fall than pumpkin spice flavored everything by offering these and other great flavors on your seasonal menu.

Back to School Restaurant Marketing Ideas

August 9th, 2016

Back-To-School-Facebook-Cover-Picture

If the end of summer is typically a slow time for your restaurant, one terrific way to drive sales is to jump on the back to school marketing bandwagon. Offering various discounts and specials aimed at cash-strapped college students and families with school-aged children can help bring in new customers, establish goodwill within the community, and lead to longterm patronage and bigger profits. Here are some ideas to get you started:

Freebies
Everyone loves freebies, especially after spending hundreds of dollars on school supplies and textbooks for the upcoming term. Offer a free appetizer, drink, or dessert to customers that show a receipt for school related purchases or tuition fees. Another option that’s great for bringing whole families into your restaurant is to provide a free kid’s meal with the purchase of an adult entree.

Discounts
If your margin is too tight for freebies, discounts are the next best alternative. For example, eateries located in college towns or near high schools can offer discounts on all purchases for customers who show a student or teacher ID card. If that kind of promotion is unsustainable, consider offering the discounts only at lunchtime or only on a specified day of the week.

Coupons
Many college towns and communities distribute coupon books to students and residents at the beginning of the year filled with promotions from local businesses, so check to see how your restaurant can get in on the action. You can also put printable coupons on your website or Facebook page, or send out offers on sites like Groupon and LivingSocial.

Incentive/Loyalty Programs
A proven way to cultivate repeat business is through incentive or loyalty programs, so this is also a great strategy to try. A stamp card that gives the bearer a free item after “x” number of purchases is easy to implement, as is a free (or discounted or BOGO) item for showing a report card with a B average or perfect attendance.

Promotion
Whatever kind of back to school marketing campaign you implement, be sure to take time to promote it beyond your usual social media channels to ensure you reach new eyeballs. Distribute fliers on campus or at the mall, put up signs in your windows, and place ads in popular local media.

Cold Desserts Your Restaurant Should Serve This Summer

July 13th, 2016

true refrigerator summer dessertsNothing lifts the misery associated with hot, humid summer weather faster than a refreshing dessert. So as the heat index rises to unbearable levels all across the country, be sure to have the following cold and frozen desserts on the menu to ease your customers’ suffering.

Ice cream & sorbet
While it’s perfectly acceptable to serve ordinary ice cream in standard cones, it doesn’t take that much more effort to offer your patrons something different and exciting. We suggest:

  • Making your own custom ice cream flavors or teaming up with a local producer of artisan ice creams.
  • Giving sorbet a kick by blending it with sangria, rum, merlot, or even champagne for a blissfully boozy treat.
  • Creating awesome ice cream sandwiches by wedging ice cream between two giant cookies, brownies, graham crackers, mini doughnuts, or other treat of your choice.

 

Pies & cakes
The true beauty of pies and cakes lies in their versatility. They can be dense and heavy when you wish for hearty fare, or they can be light and airy when the occasion calls for something more refreshing. Some can’t-miss ideas that fall into the latter category include:

  • Pudding-based pies in popular flavors like vanilla, chocolate, and banana creme served chilled from your True commercial refrigerator display.
  • Concoctions that are heavy on fresh fruit, such as key lime pie, strawberry shortcake, rhubarb cheesecake, pineapple upside-down cake, or raspberry tart.
  • Ice cream-based cakes and pies in virtually any flavor, including cookie dough, mint chocolate chip, espresso, and red velvet.

 

fruit berry parfaitParfaits
There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to creating a parfait. If the ingredients taste delectable and look enticing when layered in a glass, then you’re good to go. Some interesting combinations to try this summer are:

  • Mojito cheesecake parfait
  • Pistachio pudding parfait
  • PB&J parfait
  • Watermelon & coconut sorbet parfait
  • Tapioca passionfruit parfait
  • Cranberry meringue parfait

 

The options for refreshingly cold or frozen summer desserts are limited only by your imagination. Don’t be afraid to get creative with your menu and keep your True ice cream freezer, spot freezer, or display refrigerator stocked with scrumptious and satisfying goodies all season long.

 

Attract Guests with (the Right) Outdoor Seating

June 23rd, 2016

restaurant outdoor seatingThere’s no question customers love outdoor dining in the spring and summer. In fact, many restaurateurs report that patrons would rather wait for a table on the patio than be seated immediately indoors. So if you’re looking for a proven way to attract even more guests to your establishment this season, follow these tips to make sure you do outdoor seating right:

  • Confirm that your available outdoor space is suited to customer seating. At a minimum, this means having enough square footage that the tables aren’t crowded too close together. A pleasant view of the surroundings wouldn’t hurt, either.
  • Select weatherproof furniture that is durable yet comfortable. The pieces should be easy to clean and the general style should fit with your restaurant’s overall decorative concept.
  • Protect your customers from the elements with the help of patio umbrellas, awnings, and natural insect repellents like lavender, basil, lemongrass, and citronella.
  • Add extra lighting in the form of tiki torches, Chinese lanterns, tea lights, and other decorative options so customers and staff for visibility after sunset.
  • Consider putting a portable refrigerator or back bar storage cooler near the outdoor seating area to facilitate serving larger happy hour and weekend crowds.
  • Hire seasonal help (if necessary) to ensure you have enough employees to handle the influx of customers.
  • Get all the necessary permits and licenses required by your state or municipality so you can be in compliance with the law and avoid penalties, fines, or even a shutdown.
  • Advertise your newly opened patio space, and generate even more interest by hosting special events such as live music or game nights.

If you have the space and resources to set up an outdoor seating area this summer, you should be able to attract many more guests so long as you use the above tips to help get things right.

Get Ready for Summer Drinks

May 17th, 2016

summer drinks 2

Summer beverage sales have the potential to contribute big bucks to a restaurant’s bottom line. The profit margins for alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages alike are among the highest in the food service industry, and can provide your establishment with a welcome boost in what might otherwise be a slow season. Check out these great tips on how to get ready for summer drinks:

  • Invest in a Bunn frozen drink dispenser to help cut down on the prep and cleanup time involved in serving perennial summer favorites like daiquiris, margaritas, and slushies.
  • Swap out hot coffee, tea, and other popular beverages for iced and cold brewed versions to allow customers to get their caffeine kick in a more refreshing form.
  • Offer drinks that contain less alcohol by volume. These are often lighter, brighter, more flavorful, less dehydrating and thus ultimately more satisfying than heavier alcoholic beverages in the summer.
  • Add food elements such as candied fruit, edible stir sticks, and interesting garnishes that make drinks more fun and visually appealing.
  • Target your health-conscious patrons with delicious green or fruit smoothies. Peaches and strawberries are especially popular in summer, so be sure to stock your inventory accordingly.
  • Think outside the fruit basket and try using fresh vegetables in beverages to yield a more savory result.
  • Experiment with alcohol infused dessert drinks to increase after-dinner sales. Vodka milkshakes, lemon drop dessert shots, and alcoholic ice cream or sorbet are a few easy ones to start with.

Getting your restaurant, food truck, or kiosk ready for summer drinks can be achieved with a few menu modifications, a commercial frozen drink dispenser, and a willingness to try new things. Put your own twist on these ideas to keep your customers coming back all season.

Get Your Grill On: Lighter Options for your Spring Menu

April 12th, 2016

With spring in the air, it seems that everyone suddenly has a hankering for freshly grilled foods. And while nothing beats a classic burger charbroiled to perfection on a Globe broiler with cast iron radiants, it’s always a good idea to offer your customers a variety of mouthwatering options to choose from. So as you put the finishing touches on your seasonal menu, consider adding these lighter selections that can be prepared on your commercial grill.

grilled foodStarters and sides

Kick things off and whet your customers’ appetites by making these popular starters and sides available on your spring grill menu. All of the food listed here can be customized by mixing, topping, or serving with your own special sauces, seasonings, cheeses, and dips:

  • Shrimp
  • Clams
  • Vegetable kebabs
  • Buffalo wings
  • Whole bell peppers
  • Corn on the cob
  • Potato wedges
  • Artichoke hearts

Main dishes

The great thing about these items besides how easy they are to whip up—just brush with some olive oil before grilling and add salt, pepper, or other seasonings to taste—is that they can be served on bread as a sandwich or on a plate with sides. Either way, your customers will love the result and clamor for more, so be sure to stock up accordingly:

  • Lean pork tenderloin
  • Swordfish
  • Turkey burger
  • Meatballs
  • Thin crust pizza
  • Quesadillas
  • Flank steak
  • Farm-raised pheasant
  • Boneless leg of lamb

Sweet treats

Customers might not be used to thinking of sweets and desserts coming off the grill, but these light and tasty treats will change their mind in a hurry.

  • Fruit, including apples, peaches, pineapple, strawberries, mangoes, and bananas
  • Any variation of S’mores (chocolate or flavored chocolate spread and marshmallows sandwiched between graham crackers or cookies)
  • Grilled ice cream
  • Miniature pastries filled with any of the fruits listed above
  • Grilled pound cake with fruit or whipped cream topping

If you’ve been using your grill only for traditional food like burgers, steaks, and chicken, it’s time to break out of that pattern and offer up something fresh for spring. Choose your favorite ideas from this page, test out a few recipes, and get ready to wow your customers with a new menu.

 

Getting Your Restaurant Ready for Spring

March 15th, 2016

The snow has melted in most parts of the country, temperatures are gradually warming, and the calendar shows that the official start of spring is just a few days away. This means customers are ready to shake off any lingering symptoms of cabin fever and patronize their favorite eateries with renewed enthusiasm. Be sure you’re ready to welcome them back by sprucing up your restaurant with the help of these seasonal tips:

Spring RestaurantMenu

Review your menu with an eye toward replacing heavy, hearty fare with lighter, more refreshing options for spring. Iced versions of popular beverages such as coffee and tea are no-brainers, as are desserts such as Lemon Bar Cheesecake, Key Lime Pie, Orange Sherbet, and other citrusy sweets. Main courses and salads made with seasonal produce should also be featured prominently on your revised menu.

Restaurant equipment

Inspect your cooking, serving, and cooling equipment to make sure everything is in good working order. Refrigerators and ice machines should be a top priority at this time of year, so take this opportunity to repair or upgrade these items. You may also want to consider purchasing a display refrigerator to showcase your new desserts, deli offerings, or daily specials.

Restaurant interior

Cast a critical eye around the interior of your restaurant to see which areas are in need of change. Are the tabletops chipped, scarred, or otherwise damaged? Are the window treatments looking a bit discolored and shabby? Are the carpets worn or hopelessly stained? These can all be major turnoffs for customers, so restore, replace, or deep clean as necessary. For even better results, try adding brightly colored decorative accents such as vases of spring flowers or linen tablecloths to improve table presentation.

Restaurant exterior

If you offer outdoor dining, it’s time to start prepping the area for customers that wish to enjoy their meals al fresco. Pull your tables, chairs, and patio umbrellas out of storage for cleaning, and carefully examine each piece for rust or other problems. If you’ve had the same outdoor furniture for many seasons, updating to a more modern style could be a wise move. You might also wish to create a pet-friendly space in a shaded spot where you can provide fresh water and treats to diners with pets (be sure to check local ordinances first). Finish by anchoring everything down and training staff on how to care for diners in the event of a sudden rainstorm.

Give your customers a fresh dining experience by sprucing up your restaurant for spring. Use these tips to get started and visit ShortOrder.com to purchase any new restaurant equipment or commercial refrigeration solutions you need to get the job done.

Protecting Your Investment: Fryer Maintenance

February 24th, 2016

ShortOrder_Frymaster-FryersAll equipment needs TLC. The “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mindset is really only applicable to prep-tables. Almost everything else in your kitchen needs routine maintenance.

Consider the workhorse of many American facilities, the fryer. Fryers are a pretty simple machine. They have targeted jets of flame that heat-up the underside of a pot that contains oil. The oil heats and is used to cook food. When the oil is used, you filter or replace it and move on. Not much to it, right?

In reality, it does still need some routine maintenance. Daily, the exterior should be wiped down and cleaned. Focus on the  rim, sides and front. This is more than an aesthetic thing. Dripping oil on the floor can be a very dangerous matter for your employees. In addition, make sure to clean the fry baskets daily. Remove them from the oil, wash them and let them dry overnight.

When you filter the oil, make it a habit to clean the elements under the fryer. These can and will get congested with oil mist and other contaminants. Filter the oil, clean the elements.

It’s important to boil out your fryer at least twice a year. Remove the oil. Replace with water and cleaning solution. Allow the water to heat and scrub the fryer pot as instructed by the manufacturer. Be careful not to splash hot water on yourself or others while you scrub. Been there, done that – ouch! Once complete, carefully drain the water and rinse the pot with warm water. Once complete, towel dry and replace the oil. You’ll be good for another three to six months.

Full inspection of the unit should be done annually. Check all electronics and make sure they are free of debris. Look at the legs or casters and make sure they are in good working order and stable. Inspect your fry baskets to make sure the handle is secure to the basket. A basket breaking during agitation or product transfer can cause serious injury.

These simple maintenance techniques will increase the longevity of the fryer, keep the foods prepared in it tasting good, keep your workers safe and maximize your return on investment!   

 

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